16 November 2010
The boy is now at University up near Liverpool, and this has opened up a whole new area for watching football on our occasional weekends up there. He's based at Edgehill, Ormskirk, a town with no official club themselves, but surrounded by non-league and league clubs, all within a few miles. Apart from the obvious Liverpool and Everton, where you need far more than a student grant allows, to get in, there is Wigan Ath (cheapest in the Premier), Preston NE (we really must visit there for the National Museum of Football) and Blackpool. The non-league circuit throws up far more possibilites with Burscough, Skelmersdale, Maghull, Formby, Southport and Marine all on the doorstep.
The boy really has fallen on his feet. He shares a house with no less than three very attractive young ladies. Nothing like this ever happened to me when I left school. It was just a brief stint at college and then work! Anyway, we spent the weekend with him a while back and on the Saturday, whilst the good lady was shopping, we decided to visit the nearest of the non-league sides - namely Burscough of the Evo-Stick Premier Division. This entailed a car journey from Ormskirk of just ten minutes. Burscough is described as a village, but its sprawling nature and busy railway gave it the air of a largish town. The ground nestles among back to back streets and with its floodlight pylons reaching above the rooftops gave a very 'Lowryesque' feel to the place. The ground and social club is located on Bobby Langton Way, which takes its name from an old ex-player who also turned out for Wisbech Town in his time. The old feller on car park duty waved us down to a sports centre and we walked back up to the ground and entered the clubroom where Everton were playing Spurs on the big screen. Having bought pints and crisps we settled down with the Burscough players to watch the closing stages of the game. The air was blue every time Peter Crouch got anywhere near the ball!
You can't see the walls inside the clubroom at Burscough because they are covered, and I mean covered with hundreds and hundreds of club scarves. One of the first I noticed was from King's Lynn! If only I had known about this tradition I would have brought one of our own. And probably stuck it over the one from Lynn! (Just joking!) At last the home players disapeared to get changed and we made our way to the turnstile. It was £8 each, plus £4 for two programmes. These were glossy and in full colour, with plenty to read, which was just as well as there was nearly forty five minutes to kick off! We entered the ground behind the village end goal. To our left was a large grandstand that looked older than it really is. Behind the far end goal was a large cover with terracing and facing the grandstand, on the opposite side was more covered terracing. Altogether a very pleasant, traditional football ground.
The boy said he was still hungry so we found the snack bar and perused what was on offer. Two very pleasant and chatty ladies behind the counter recommended the peppered beef pies which we tried and I can honestly say, apart from the delicious pastys we serve up at Deeping now, these were the tastiest pies I have ever consumed at football. Tender, succulent meat in a rich gravy made spicey with subtle amounts of pepper, yum,yum!!!!. The programme shop was now open, so I went for a delve whilst the boy went back for another pie. The shop at Burscough is housed in a portacabin lined with shelves full of hundreds, if not thousands, of old programmes. The guy who runs it was very friendly and quickly recognised another nutter. I could have spent all day in there rooting through his stock, like a pig after truffles. But I still managed to come out with two bags full. Including around forty old programmes from Bourne Town! I wonder how they ended up there.
The game itself, against Northwich Victoria didn't quite live up to expectation. There were plenty of chances created from both sides, but despite all their efforts, the game remained goalless. What a friendly crowd they were. We got into conversation with several of the home supporters who were curious about the Deeping scarves we were wearing. Of course we were pleased to fill them in with the details of our club and I promised that the next time we came up I would bring them some Rangers programmes for the shop.
So that was it, our first taste of non-league football in the north east. A three year course is plenty long enough to get to all those other grounds iv'e mentioned.
The following day we spent in Liverpool and a lifetime ambition was achieved when I stood on the stage at 'The Cavern' The club where the Beatles began their road to fame. What days! What days!
C'MON YOU RANGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!