Coppull United

Coppull United vs Hesketh Bank, Bay Radio West Lancashire League Premier Division, 19/03/16, Blainscough Park, Match 32

I’m beginning to wonder why I bother planning which football games I’m going to attend, as I was supposed to be heading to watch Porthmadog vs Buckley, but instead I ended up having to head up to Chorley, and therefore having to change my plans. There was always the option of going to watch Chorley vs Curzon Ashton, but I’ve already been to Chorley once this season, and plan to attend their final game of the season vs AFC Telford, so that wasn’t really an option. After a quick scan of the fixture list at the back of the Non-League Paper, I found Coppull United vs Hesketh Bank, with this game being the third time the two have attempted to played, as it has fallen victim to the weather twice. I’ve driven through Coppull plenty of times on the way to Chorley, but have never noticed the football club. Even my wife, who was born and bred in Chorley, had never seen the football club in Coppull, and after consulting Google Maps, I found that it was tuck away off of the main road through Coppull.

Our reason for visiting Chorley was to view a property, as there is a strong possibility that we will be moving into the area, as I have found myself transferring to a job in Preston, with the same company that I am with, obviously with family in Chorley it makes sense to move there, and there’s also the groundhopping possibilities, with Wigan, Blackburn, Bolton and Manchester, to name a few, all on the doorstep. With the house viewing complete, we headed to the sister-in-law’s house to fill out the paperwork. Which is why I found myself leaving later than I wanted for the match, it was around 2.50pm by the time I found myself on the road to Coppull, and although it’s a short drive, it also happened to be Saturday, which meant traffic.

By the time I pulled into the car-park at Blainscough Park the match had kicked off, and I made the brave decision to park behind the goal. As I’ve mentioned Blainscough Park is tucked away from the main road, situated at the end of Springfield Road behind a housing estate. The facilities at Blainscough Park are basic, with there not being a lot apart from the clubhouse and a fenced off pitch, but that’s not a criticism, as the facilities are extremely well-maintained, and the volunteers at Coppull United obviously take a lot of pride in their club. There isn’t any cover at the ground, so it was lucky that it was a dry day, as I can’t imagine it being too nice in the rain, however it would be easy enough to sit in your car and watch the game. The clubhouse stands in the corner nearest to the car-park entrance, and houses the changing rooms as well as the bar area, the dugouts are situated on the touchline furthest from the clubhouse.

I’ve found it difficult to find the history of Coppull United, despite searching Wikipedia, the club’s website and google numerous times, so I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to provide much of a background to Coppull United. If there is anyone reading this connected to Coppull United who can provide a history of your club then please leave it in the comments, or if I didn’t look hard enough please leave a link to where it can be found on the internet. What I have been able to find is that Coppull United were founder members, in 1998, of the West Lancashire League Division Two, a league they won in the 2001-2002 season, meaning they were promoted to the West Lancashire League Division One. Coppull obviously didn’t fancy spending too long in this league, as they won the league at the first time of asking, which saw them promoted to the West Lancashire Premier Division, where they have stayed ever since. Recently the club have been winners of the Lancashire Amateur Shield in the 2014-2015 season. Coming into this game Coppull sat in 7th place in the league, with their last game ending in a 2-2 draw with Garstang.

Football has been played in Hesketh Bank since the late 19th century with the present side being formed in 1922. Until the 1987-1988 season the club played mainly in the local Southport & District League, but it was in 1987 when they joined the West Lancashire League. In 1995 a new unified club was born from an amalgamation of the senior club and the Hesketh Bank Boy’s club who had been formed in 1972. This amalgamation helps maintain the continuity of youngsters moving through the youth team and into the senior team. Hesketh Bank have a rich tradition, with the club winning a number of competitions, including the West Lancashire Division One on two occasions, with the latest being in 2013-2014, the club have also won the President’s Cup on five occasions, the Fermor Hesketh Challenge Cup eleven times, to name but a few competitions. Hesketh Bank came into this with their last game also ending in a 2-2 draw, with Burnley United.

As I’ve stated, I was a few minutes late for the match, and I arrived in time to watch Hesketh Bank defend a Coppull corner. I was instantly taken by the Hesketh Bank kit, especially the shirts, which looked impressive with the amber and black quarters, and I was even more enamored with them when I realized that Hesketh Bank was written above the numbers on the back. I’m just going to put this out there, but if at the end of the season Hesketh are getting rid of their kit, then I would be happy to purchase one!

Both sides were looking to get the ball down and play football, which was good to see, and the pitch looked to be in a great condition. The ball was hoofed forwards on occasion, but it was more of a case of passing into space, with the ball finding its intended recipient. Hesketh were having the better of the attacking play, and the ball spent more time in the Coppull half.

The deadlock was broken in the 15th minute, the ball was played down the Hesketh left wing, and the Hesketh number 9 found himself with the ball at his feet, the Coppull keeper came out to meet him, but the Hesketh number 9 rounded him, and despite the presence of defenders on the line, the Hesketh number 9 composed himself and fired into the back of the net.

Around the pitch are a number of trees, and along the touchlines there is a bit of undergrowth. When the ball went out of play it was up to the spectators to play ball-boy, and my turn came around the 20th minute, as the ball ended up in the trees behind me. After picking the ball up I kicked it back towards the pitch, and watched as the ball bounced off one of the fence posts around the pitch, and back away from the pitch. Someone else collected the ball the second time, and the ball eventually ended up back in play.

A poor backpass allowed Hesketh to make it 2-0 in the 35th minute. One of the Coppull players had the ball on the halfway line and went to play a pass back to one of his team, but his pass was underhit, and Hesketh broke forward in a 2 v 2 situation, the Hesketh number 11 soon arrived on the left hand side of the area, and the ball was played to his feet, he found himself with plenty of space and time, and his finish was powerful and well-placed.

Before half-time I decided to take a walk around the pitch to take some photos and as I neared the goal by the car-park, Coppull broke forward and the Hesketh keeper had to be alert as the ball threatened to loop into the back of the net, the crossbar rescued the keeper. Not soon after the half time whistle blew, and Hesketh went into the break with a good lead.

Half Time: Coppull United 0-2 Hesketh Bank (Hesketh 9 15th, Hesketh 11 35th)

At half time I headed round to the clubhouse, and was tempted to stand by the door to the home team dressing room to hear what was being said, however the thought of having a beer was too tempting and I headed to the bar, the service was quick, and I was amazed to see Budweiser on draught, which is a rare sight, as I can’t remember the last time I saw Budweiser outside of a bottle. I ended up buying a pint of Budweiser, £2.85, and a Twix, 60p, before finding an empty table and taking a seat. There was a game of football on the TV, but I honestly can’t remember who was playing.

The sight of the two teams emerging onto the pitch, made me drink my pint as quickly as possible, as I didn’t want to miss anymore of the match. I could have watch some of the match from the windows in the clubhouse, but nothing beats being stood next to the pitch.

Coppull came out of the break needing to score quickly to get themselves back into the game, and their play was encouraging as they attempted to break forward with pace, however the Hesketh defence were having a good day, and they were able to keep Coppull at bay.

Coppull were the first to make a change, as in the 60th minute they bought their number 11 off for their number 15. The number 15 added an extra dimension to the Coppull attack, as his pace was something else.

The referee had started to make a couple of odd decisions against both sides, and both benches could be heard asking the referee to explain his decisions, something he didn’t do. That being said, he was a good referee and always appeared to be in control of the game.

In the 74th minute Coppull made their second change of the game, with their number 9 coming off to be replaced by the number 12. Coppull’s emphasis now appeared to be solely based on attacking, and I did wonder whether if they would have been behind if they’d shown this attacking intent in the first half.

Hesketh made their only change of the game two minutes later, with their number 12 replacing their number 10. Hesketh seemed to be in a pretty comfortable position, and the number 12 seemed to have been tasked with chasing any loose balls at the front down, to try and expose the Coppull defence.

With Coppull attacking in number, they did leave themselves exposed at the back, and they did have their keeper to thank on a couple of occasions. The Coppull number 3, also had to be alert as Hesketh broke forward in a 2v1, with Coppull relieved when the attack broke down.

For all of Coppull’s effort through the second half, they weren’t able to find a way through the Hesketh defence.

Final Score: Coppull United 0-2 Hesketh Bank (Hesketh 9 15th, Hesketh 11 35th)

I’d spent the last couple of minutes of the game perched on the bonnet of my car, and as soon as the final whistle blew, I got in my car, which hadn’t been hit during the game, and headed back to Chorley to pick up my wife and kids.

A win for Hesketh Bank, their first since Halloween, sees them sit in 10th position. Hesketh have now played 22 games this season, which despite numerous postponements, means they’ve played more games than a number of teams in the league, luckily for Hesketh the lowest they could drop to is 13th position, and that’s only if Southport Hesketh win all five of their games in hand, which is unlikely. With eight games left, and 24 points left to compete for, a mid-table finish is possibly the best that Hesketh Bank can hope for. If they continue to play the same way they did today, then they should have no problem in finishing around mid-table.

Defeat for Coppull sees them remain in 7th place, however Coppull do have a number of games in hand over the teams around them, as they have only played 18 games this season. It would be possible for Coppull to top the table, but it would require a lot of luck, and is probably not going to happen. The fixture congestion that Coppull will be left with will be difficult to deal with, and hopefully it won’t put too much strain on the team, it was interesting to read on the Coppull twitter that they were fielding three debutants in today’s match, so obviously the reinforcements are beginning to arrive.

Blainscough Park is a fantastic ground, and I am looking forward to visiting again, potentially in the summer, especially if they organise a game with Chorley FC for pre-season. Whilst promotion to the next step would probably be out of reach at the moment, I feel there is plenty of potential for ground improvements if the club ever did decide to push for the next step in the football pyramid.

Attendance: 40ish (Rough headcount)

Hat-tricks seen so far: 3

Money spent: £3.45 (Free entrance)

Next game: FC United vs Chorley, 26/3/16

Coppull United’s twitter: Coppull United

Hesketh Bank’s twitter: Hesketh Bank

For pictures of today’s adventures follow this link: Flickr

Thanks for reading!