It’s the Saturday before Christmas so where better for a day’s drinking err sorry football than Manchester. City and United aren’t playing so it has to be …. Salford City!
As usual the train company puts on the oldest single coach train in its rolling stock for the Derby-Stoke route, and the latter station is full of Santa’s heading for Blackburn and a Premiership game. I find a quieter part of the train and we arrive in Piccadilly a half-hour late (something on the line near Macclesfield, inevitably).
It’s persisting it down with rain (well it IS Manchester) and I seek quiet (and dry) solace in the Grey Horse (thumbs up), Circus Tavern (equally good), Drum & Monkey (bit echo-ey), Hare & Hounds (a classic) and Marble Tavern (always too busy for my liking) before making the crass decision to walk to the ground. It’s about two miles out and uphill … and it’s raining. Beers clouds the judgement. I arrive at the Moor Lane ground footsore and wet. Maybe I’ll catch the bus back after the game.
The programme is on sale at the turnstile and is attractive to the eye, although full of low-res images. As that’s the line of work I’m in, they stick out like a sore thumb! There’s no time to visit the clubhouse but by peering through the window I can report no proper beer but there is Sports TV with the live game on. The tea bar is small but – heavens above – there’s cheese & onion pies lurking amongst the dead animal ones and I hungrily wolf mine down along with a mushy pea side salad. Bliss!
The ground is dominated by the substantial-looking main stand. It seems to have been hewn out of a slab of solid concrete and then whitewashed. Despite its size there’s only six rows of seats but plenty of space for the 102 present for today’s game, a dozen of whom decide to patronise the very small covered terrace opposite. I position myself to one end but am soon joined by a trio of local yoathhood who decide to sing the merits of the portly home number 10 as potential manager material whilst continually wellying a ball in front of my nose and off the back wall. I stick it for five minutes than have a word. Grumpy old trout.
Third from bottom visitors Woodley Sports go in front and there’s not a single shout from the terraces. This team from just the other side of Manchester (definitely a local derby) has arrived with NO supporters! Worrying times for grass roots football. Amazingly, rock-bottom Salford manage a rally and turn it round before half time. The three youths get noisier.
It’s not to last, and slack marking eventually tells with the ball in the Salford net several times, two of them actually counting. The players trudge off, they’ve tried their best, but I think it’ll be the delights of the Vodkat League for the home team next season.
So do I get the bus back into town? Not exactly. I decide that going back, being downhill, will be much easier and the rain won’t be the sort that wets you. I arrive in the Smithfield (good old tickers pub) absolutely drenched and promptly hug the radiator. A couple of Belgian brews in the Bar Fringe warm me up and set me up for the journey home.
For some reason best known to myself I’ve decided to add a bit more trivia to my blog by reporting the number of floodlight pylons in the ground. In this case, six.