Bamber Bridge vs Chorley, 18/7/15, The Sir Tom Finney Stadium, Match 3
Whilst perusing preseason fixture lists at the start of July, this was a fixture that caught my eye, and probably the first fixture that I pencilled into my schedule. It conveniently allowed me to arrange a visit to my in-laws, and gave me an opportunity to escape said visit.
Chorley FC have become my second team, they would never rival my passion for Shrewsbury Town, but there is something about Chorley FC that grabbed my interest from the off. I first visited Victory Park in November 2011, for a match against Harrogate Railway Athletic. It was at the time that Chester FC reformed and found themselves in the same league as Chorley. As a Shrewsbury Town fan, I immediately found myself drawn to another team that claimed to hate Chester FC. With my wife being from Chorley, and us making visits to see family, I’ve spent a lot of time at Victory Park, and have always enjoyed it. However, if it came to a game between Shrewsbury Town and Chorley, I would have to support Shrewsbury Town.
Coincidentally, Harrogate Railway Athletic provided the opposition for Bamber Bridge for the first match I attended at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium, and after my first visit, I was looking forward to going back, as if my first visit was anything to go by, then I would be attending a game at a well-run, friendly club.
After having a walk around Chorley, I left my wife and kids, who were heading off to Astley Park, and headed off to Bamber Bridge. A short drive up the A6 later, I pulled into a side street, and parked my car. I then wandered down to the ground, where signs were already stating that the car parking at the ground was full, with cars parking on the road towards the ground.
The cost to get in was £5, which when we consider that that wouldn’t buy ¼ of a ticket at most Conference/League 2 grounds is a bargain. After getting through the turnstiles, I found the programme seller, and parted with a £1 to receive a well laid out programme. It was at the turnstile that I noticed that they were selling team sheets in the club shop for 20p, so as soon as I had my programme, I headed to the club shop, where I parted with 20p, and received my team sheet.
Plenty of Chorley fans had made the trip up the A6, with special mention going to the Chorley FC Supporters Trust who had walked the distance between the two clubs to raise money for charity, (https://twitter.com/CFCST).
I took my usual walk around the ground, heading past the smart, covered seating on the touchline, and headed round the ground. One thing that did make me smile was the lad getting the Chorley players to sign his new shirt, with many of the players taking the time to have a chat with the lad.
The Sir Tom Finney Stadium is a lovely ground, as you emerge from behind one goal. As you walk in you can either head straight down the touchline which houses the dugouts, or you can head right and walk past the refreshment hut, the social club and the club shop (which is an absolute treasure trove), the Main Stand stands opposite the dugouts, with plenty of space beside, and behind the stand for any future expansion. Behind the far goal is a small, three step terrace with a low roof, which looks like it would create a fantastic atmosphere, if it was ever full.
Once I’d finished my lap of the ground, I settled to watch the match from beside the Away dugout, where I’d hoped to see Matt Jansen, however I was to be disappointed as he never made an appearance in the away dugout.
Now let me pre-face this next paragraph by saying that I am all for well thought out, well controlled pyro. I like flares, and chanting, and the general atmosphere that seems to be lacking nowadays, but I will never, ever understand why, at a pre-season friendly, a group of teens decided to set off a flare, barely a minute into the game, and throw it onto the pitch behind Sam Ashton. From their chanting it wouldn’t have taken a genius to work out that they were Chorley fans, and a couple of the people around me made comments about how long it would be until the lads got themselves thrown out.
Chorley started the game off the better of the two teams, with some bright attacking play, which matched their bright, green kit. Andy Teague was his normal commanding self at the back. What was good to see was Chorley’s determination to build the play up from the back, with some slick passes being played between the players.
That passing play was to lead to the first goal, with Chorley building a great attack from the back, which led to the ball being crossed into the box, where Chris Almond managed to power home a header, in the 9th minute.
This is where the lads from before come back in, as the ball nestled in the Bamber Bridge net, following Chris Almond’s powerful header, some of them got a bit too excited and ran onto the pitch, behaviour which I would understand if say this was an FA Cup match, or maybe a playoff final, or any match with any kind of importance, but a pre-season friendly? Get a grip.
Sam Ashton laughed the pitch invaders off, and to their, slight, very slight credit, they did get off of the pitch quickly, with no disruption to the restart. However their antics had not gone unnoticed, and some Bamber Bridge stewards made their way round to the group, along with some Chorley fans, who obviously did not want to see anyone misbehaving whilst claiming to be supporting their team. The game continued and there were discussions behind the goal involving the lads and the people who had gone to calm them down/deal with them. Soon enough one of the lads was running away from the terrace towards the dugouts, and the rest of the group followed suit. They were marched out of the ground, and received some choice words from some unimpressed spectators. It was clear to see them set off a flare in the carpark, just to round off their antics.
With the entertainment now departed, and probably on their way back to Chorley, all attention now focussed back on the pitch, where Chorley continued to play a patient, passing game. Both sides did have chances to score, but neither seemed able to take them, with neither Sam Ashton nor Lee Dovey have too much to do.
Chorley’s second goal came in the 40th minute, under controversial circumstances. Play built down the right wing, and one of the Bamber Bridge players seemed to be fouled, however the ref waved play on and the ball went out for a corner. The ball was whipped into the box, where Andy Teague got his head to the ball, powering his header against the underneath of the crossbar, the ball seemed to bounce clear, but the ref noticed his linesman flagging, and awarded the goal, much to the annoyance of the Bamber Bridge bench.
Half Time: Bamber Bridge 0-2 Chorley (Almond 9, Teague 40)
I made the decision at half time to go and get something to eat, and headed down to the refreshment bar, however, as I had eaten before the game, I decided to only get a packet of crisps and a drink, so I can’t really comment on the food, but if it is still as good as my first visit, then the Meat & Potato pies are very good. On my way back round the ground, I spotted people drinking beer, and soon worked out that there was an “Al-Fresco” Bar at the back of the Main Stand. A pint of Fosters was a reasonable £3, and I made my way back to my spot by the dugout with my pint.
The second half lost any of the goal scoring ability that the first half had, with neither side impressing in front of goal. The second half also bought the usual pre-season raft of substitutions, which weren’t made easy as the Chorley subs seemed to be like children on a school trip, as they misplaced their shirts, with players inevitably entering the action wearing the wrong number.
With no goals in the second half, the only thing worthy of any comment was the handbags between Chorley’s Harry Winter and Bamber Bridge’s Paul Alexander. Alexander had gone in hard a couple of times during the match, and on this occasion he was no different. Alexander wasn’t solely to blame as Winter also flew into the challenge, with the aftermath seeing Alexander having to be restrained. The ref, showing some common sense, warned both players.
The final whistle followed soon after, drawing an even half to a close. Chorley FC had the better of the game, and took their chances.
Full Time: Bamber Bridge 0-2 Chorley (Almond 9, Teague 40)
Attendance: ? (No official announcement was ever made, if anyone knows the attendance, please leave it in the comments!)
Hat-tricks seen so far: 2
Next Weeks Plan: Mold Alexandra vs Droylesden, 25/7/15