Warrington Town vs Scarborough Athletic, Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One North, 30/01/16, Cantilever Park, Match 27
Last week’s failed attempt at watching a game of football meant that I had not attended a game for a fortnight, with the last game being Stafford Rangers vs Leek Town. Following the disaster of last weekend, I had decided to play it safe, and I chose a ground with plenty of other options. As the title of the blog shows, my first plan was Warrington Town’s match against Scarborough Athletic, but I also had the backup of Runcorn Linnets vs Nelson. I also made sure that I left early so as to give myself chance to get to the backup game if needed, luckily there wasn’t to be a repeat of last week though, and I was able to watch a game of football.
Cantilever Park is a ground that I have wanted to visit since Warrington’s fantastic run in the FA Cup in the 2014 to 2015 season which saw them beat League Two side Exeter City in the First Round before losing to Gateshead in the Second Round. With it being an FA Cup weekend I felt that this would be the perfect time to visit the home of last season’s giant killer.
There was also the fact that I had noticed that a one-time Shrewsbury Town player had signed for Warrington Town, Alex McQuade. McQuade had joined in the April 2013 from Bolton Wanderers, however he only ever played one game for us, making his debut in August 2013 against MK Dons, before moving on to Hyde FC on loan in February 2014. He left Shrewsbury in May 2014, and since then has gone on to play for Guiseley, Hyde and Farsley before joining Warrington.
The journey to Warrington from Wrexham was an easy one, with a drive down the M53 and M56 taking about 45 minutes, it would have been quicker, but I took a few wrong turns much to the annoyance of my Sat-Nav. I arrived at Warrington at about 2.40pm, and parked on a nearby street, on my walk to the ground I passed the Scarborough Athletic Coach which was parked at a bus-stop. I was pleased by how friendly the people of Warrington Town FC were, as I was greeted warmly by the steward by the main gate, and the steward by the turnstiles, who helpfully directed me to the correct turnstile. At the turnstile I paid £8 for entry, and once in the ground I paid a further £2 for a programme.
Cantilever Park, known as The Winner Recruitment Stadium, has been home to Warrington Town FC since 1956, and as of November 2014 it has a capacity of 2,500, it stands on the northern bank of the Manchester Ship Canal, and offers good views of the Cantilever Bridge that towers over the ground to the east. From the turnstiles I emerged near to the changing rooms, and decided to take a walk around the ground. From the turnstiles I walked behind the goal, behind this goal runs a stretch of hard standing, and in one corner there is a fenced off 3g pitch, which proved to be very popular. On the opposite touchline to where I had emerged, stands the only seats in the ground, this covered stand straddles the halfway line, and the back row of seats are reserved for the directors. Behind the goal opposite to the 3g pitch, stands a covered terrace, where the Warrington and Scarborough fans gathered for the first half, behind this terrace stands the Cantilever Bridge, and to get the best view of this you need to stand by the 3g pitch. Along the final touchline stands the club’s facilities, including the Club Shop, Warrington Town Supporters Club Fanzone, refreshment hut, social club and changing rooms. Sandwiched between the Club Shop and the refreshment hut stands a covered terrace, which is stood back from the pitch, and at an angle. Along this touchline also stand the dugouts, and rather oddly the home dugout is situated on the halfway line with the away dugout being halfway into the half of the pitch closest to the changing rooms, I’m assuming that at one point the halfway line was directly between the dugouts, and that the pitch has been moved.
Warrington Town were formed in 1949 as Stockton Heath Albion, and adopted their current name in 1961. From 1949 to 1953 the club competed in the Warrington and District League, and in 1953 they moved to the Mid Cheshire League, and under the management of Freddie Worrall the club won the league in the 1959 to 1060 season as well as the League Cup in the consecutive seasons during the 1950s, in 1954, 1955 and 1956. At the club’s 1961 AGM the decision was made to change their name to Warrington Town. In 1978 the club were founder members of Division Two of the Cheshire County League, when the Cheshire County League merged into the North West Counties Football League in 1982, the club became founder members of Division Three. In their first season the club finished as runners-up, and earned promotion to Division Two, the club then spent a couple of seasons in Division Two before finishing as runners-up in 1987, which meant they earned promotion to Division One. Warrington finished as champions of Division One in 1990, and won promotion to the Northern Premier League. In the 1996 to 1997 season the club finished second bottom of the Northern Premier League, and were relegated back to the North West Counties League Division One, Warrington were to be relegated again in the 1997 to 1998 season. They were to spend three years in the North West Counties League Division Two before they finished as champions in the 2000 to 2001 season. As part of the restructuring that led to the creation of the Conference North and South, the club were promoted to the Northern Premier League Division One, as they finished fifth in the North West Counties League Division One. In 2013 to 2014 the club finished third in the Northern Premier League Division One North, but were beaten in the Play-Off Semi Finals by Bamber Bridge. Currently the club stand in 1st place in the league, and are nine points clear of 2nd placed Northwich Victoria, however Victoria have five games in hand over Warrington.
Scarborough Athletic were formed in 2007, as they rose from the ashes of Scarborough Football Club, who were wound up in June 2007 with debts of £2.5 million. Scarborough Athletic were formed by the supporters’ trust known as the Seadog Trust, and they are a continuation of the previous club. Athletic have taken on the same red kit, nickname, motto and official club logo from the original club. Athletic started their live in the Northern Counties East League Division One under the management of former North Ferriby United manager Brian France, as there was a lack of suitable grounds in Scarborough the club have ground-shared with Bridlington Town. In their first season the club finished 5th, but may have finished higher if they had not been hit with a 6 point deduction for fielding ineligible players earlier in the season. The next season was to be more successful, as Athletic embarked on a 27 match unbeaten league run which saw the surge to the top of the table, and on the 21st of March 2009, following a 2-1 victory at Teversal they were guaranteed promotion to the Northern Counties East League Premier Division, and just three days later the club were confirmed as champions after a 3-0 home victory over Brighouse Town. In their first season in the NCELP the club finished fifth, following a season which saw them start with a long winning streak, which saw them top of the league by the end of September, but a series of inconsistent results then followed. Brian France was to leave the club in November 2010 as he had been hospitalized due to a brain injury, first team coach Paul Olsson took charge following France’s departure, but he only lasted until March 2011 following a number of inconsistent results in the league, in his place Rudy Funk was appointed as manager and the club finished the season in 10th place. The 2011 to 2012 season saw the club finish in 3rd position in the league, narrowly missing out on promotion. Athletic were not to miss out in the following season, as they were crown as champions of the Northern Counties East League Premier Division, which saw them gain promotion to the Northern Premier League Division One South for the 2013-2014 season. Scarborough were to only spend one season in the Northern Premier League Division One South, and were moved to the Division One North in time for the 2014-2015 season. Early in November of 2014 Rudy Funk unexpectedly resigned and was succeeded by his assistants Paul Foot and Bryan Hughes who took on the role as joint-managers, the club finished the 2014-2015 season in 6th place, just two points shy of the play-offs. On the 23rd of December 2015 both joint-managers left the club by mutual consent, and were replaced by Steve Kittrick on the 5th of January 2016, currently Scarborough occupy 18th position in the league, and find themselves 18 points off of the play-offs, and 9 points away from the drop zone.
I decided to stand by the covered seating stand, as it meant that I had my back to the low sun. As the teams walked on to the pitch I was pleased to hear them greeted on to the pitch by “All My Life” by the Foo Fighters, who have got to my favourite ever band. It was also good to hear a team emerging to a different song, than the over played stuff they play at league grounds up and down the country.
There was a strong wind blowing across the pitch, and it was to be Scarborough that would be kicking into the wind. I did hope that the keeper would realise that long kicks weren’t going to work given that the ball would get caught in the wind.
From the kick off it was clear that the first half was going to be dominated by Warrington, and it did seem to be a case of when they were going to score, not if.
The 9th minute bought a comical moment, as the Warrington number 10, Ben Deegan, booted his team mate, number 7 Chris Gahgan in the ankles, and completely took his feet out from under him. Gahgan had done well with the ball in the box, but seemed to be being ushered away by a Scarborough defender, and Deegan must have been expecting Gahgan to pass, as if he did, I think Deegan would have scored, as he was in a fantastic position.
Warrington were launching wave after wave of attacks down the right wing, which was great for me as it was the wing I was stood by, but were unable to turn their dominance into goals. Scarborough were doing very well in defence, and their fans were superb as they continued to cheer their players on. The Warrington fans were also in fine voice, and there was plenty of good natured chanting between the two sets of fans.
The 39th minute bought a fantastic chance for Warrington, the ball was whipped into the box from a corner on the right wing and James McCarten, number 5, got his head to the ball, from where I was stood it looked like it was going in, until Ben Deegan decided to get his head to it, and he flicked it on to the roof of the net, much to the annoyance of McCarten.
Half time: Warrington Town 0-0 Scarborough Athletic
At half time I decided to head round to the refreshment hut, and on my way there I debated with myself whether or not I should pop into the Club Shop to get a scarf, as it was bloody cold. I decided against getting a scarf, and instead carried on to the refreshment hut. At the refreshment hut there was a big queue which stretched out of the hut itself, and onto the terrace outside, which I took as a good sign as it must have meant that the food was good. But after spending fifteen minutes in the queue I had only just entered the refreshment hut itself, and with the players back on the pitch I decided to give up, and left the queue.
Warrington were lucky in the fact that the strong wind had died off, but it had been replaced by a mixture of hail and snow, which meant it was bloody freezing, and I started to regret not getting that scarf, I really should have bought one with me.
In the 62nd minute Warrington made the first change of the game with their number 11, Phil Dean, made way for number 15, Warren Beattie.
Scarborough had started the second half the better of the two sides, in my opinion, but as time wore on Warrington began to take control of the game once more, and the Scarborough defence had to be on their toes.
The opening goal of the game came in the 76th minute, as Warrington won a free kick on the edge of the area, just left of the “D”. James McCarten stood over the ball, and once the ref blew his whistle, he calmly curled the ball round the Scarborough wall and past the motionless Nicholas Draper, the Scarborough keeper.
Warrington made a second change in the 79th minute as their number 2, Liam Turner, was replaced by number 17, Alistair Brown.
Scarborough made two changes of their own, with number 8, Matthew Bloor, being replaced by Peter Davidson in the 85th minute. Their second sub came in the 87th minute with number 10, Thomas Corner, leaving the field to be replaced by number 15, Redmond Lee.
There were to be two minutes added on, but then again I couldn’t really read the board and the tannoy had seemingly given up. Warrington’s twitter states that three minutes were added on, but all I know is that it was cold and the extra time couldn’t have passed quicker for me.
Final Score: Warrington Town 1-0 Scarborough Athletic (McCarten 76)
This game won’t go down as a classic, as Scarborough could easily have emerged with a point, but even the best teams occasionally grind out 1-0 wins, and the ability to grind out wins is the sign of a good team. Today’s result sees Warrington go twelve points clear at the top, but it is worth noting that Northwich Victoria still have five games in hand, and that’s a potential fifteen points. Scarborough sit in 18th position, and worryingly for them Harrogate Railway Athletic who sit in 21st position currently have four games in hand over them, which could see Harrogate RA jump up to 18th, but it will probably take a miracle for them to win all of their games in hand, although anything can happen in football. Even though they lost, Scarborough can be proud of themselves, as they put in a good shift against the league leaders.
My hands were that cold when I got to my car that I couldn’t turn the key in the ignition, and I had to wait for a couple of minutes for my fingers to unfreeze. Once I had mobility in my hands, I turned the ignition, and headed back to Wrexham. The FA Cup magic was in full swing, as Shrewsbury Town beat Sheffield Wednesday, now if only we could do that in the league.
All in all, I really enjoyed my visit to Cantilever Park, as it is a wonderful ground, whilst it was disappointing not to get chance to sample the food, I’m just going to use that as an excuse to pay the place another visit. Although I’ll make that journey in the summer as it was cold today, but then again I think I’ve said that I’ll visit all of the grounds that I’ve been to this winter in the summer!
Hat-tricks seen so far: 3
Next game: Not decided, will play it by ear. If you have a suggestion, leave it in the comments.
Money spent: £10
Thanks for reading!
Warrington Town’s twitter: https://twitter.com/theyellows
Scarborough Athletics’ twitter: https://twitter.com/safc
Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLC94pchpps (I’m the guy stood by the corner flag when Warrington score)