Hesketh Bank AFC

Hesketh Bank AFC vs Charnock Richard, Bay Radio West Lancashire League Premier Division, 19/04/16, Centenary Sports Ground, Match 34

It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these, and to be honest it feels good to be typing these words. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, a change of jobs has seen my family and I relocate to Chorley, and my last few weekends have been spent moving from the old house to the new one. Whilst we’ve still got some work to do in Wrexham, hence why there won’t be a blog at the weekend, we are now living in Chorley, and I’ve settled in at work. However, the lack of football has sent me a bit crazy, and my wife was glad that I found a match to attend.

I have seen Hesketh Bank already this season, when they played Coppull United, and after that game, someone from Hesketh Bank had left a comment on one of my Instagram posts, inviting me to attend their next home game, unfortunately that was the weekend I attended FC United vs Chorley, but I had made a mental note that I wanted to go and visit Hesketh Bank. This fixture leapt out of the Non-League Paper at me and after consulting Twitter, I found that it would be an 18.45pm kick off. Which was great as I would have time to get home, get changed and have a quick bit of food, before driving for half an hour to get to Hesketh Bank’s Centenary Sports Ground.

Following a nice drive through the Lancashire countryside, I arrived at the Centenary Sports Ground, and parked by the gym. The sounds of workout music greeted me, and I quickly headed to the shop down the road to pick up a bottle of diet coke and a Kit Kat. Healthy thoughts banished, I walked back to the ground and stood beside the pitch and watched as the two sides warmed up. I began to look around for any signs of a teamsheet, and I spotted a Charnock Richard fan near me, who was writing into a notebook, on further inspection I realized he was copying from a teamsheet, and he very kindly allowed me to take a photo of the teamsheet he was copying from, I also managed to get a photo of the teamsheet he had created in his notebook, as his handwriting was lovely, and as a former teacher I appreciate good handwriting!

The Centenary Sports Ground is a basic affair, but it is well kept and presented. There are no seats at the ground, but I did notice that some people had bought their own camping chairs. Along one touchline is a small covered stand, which straddles the halfway line and would probably be very busy in the rain. On the opposite touchline stand the dugouts with the changing rooms situated in one corner of the ground next to the bowling green. The toilets and refreshment bar are housed in the Sports Bar which is housed in the same building as the gym. There are no floodlights at the ground, which explained the need for the early kick off time.

I’ve already mentioned that I have seen Hesketh Bank this season, so I won’t go into their history again, but from the last time I watched them they have won their last two matches, with a 2-1 victory over Vickerstown and a 2-0 victory against Garstang. Hesketh came into this match sitting in 10th position on 32 points from 24 games, they do have some games in hand over the teams above them, but that doesn’t mean guaranteed points, however if they were to win their games in hand, they could overtake Garstang and Slyne-with-Hest which would see them climb to 8th in the league.

Charnock Richard were formed in 1933, as they entered a team into the Chorley Alliance League, the outbreak of the Second World War saw the league temporarily suspended, and following the end of the war, the league was reformed along with Charnock Richard. In the 1947 to 1948 season, the team won the league title, scoring 107 goals and losing only two games. This success prompted them to try and run two teams, but they ran into difficulties and the club closed at the end of the 1948 to 1949 season. The present club were formed in 1955, and once again played in the Chorley Alliance League, but in 1957 they moved to the Preston & District League, and apart from a brief flirtation with the Bolton Combination, they spent most of their time in this league. The club have a good history in the Lancashire Amateur Shield, winning it in 1968, 2002, 2007, 2011 and 2012. In 1993 the club moved to the West Lancashire League, and have won it on several occasions, in 1998, 2004, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Recently Charnock Richard have announced that they have applied for promotion to the North West Counties League, and I can only hope that they are successful in their application, as it would be brilliant for the club to advance to a higher level. Charnock’s last five league games have seen them win twice and lose three times. Their last league game against Slyne-with-Hest, saw Charnock emerge with all three points following a narrow 1-0 win. Coming into this game, the club sat in 3rd position, with three games in hand over Fulwood Amateurs who sit in 1st, however there is a ten-point gap between the two sides, and Charnock will need to win each of their games in hand, as well as their last remaining games, if they hope to retain the league title.

Hesketh lined up in their wonderful yellow & black quarter shirts, and I spotted that their shorts were numbered as well, which I thought was a touch of class to an already fantastic kit.

The pitch didn’t look to be in fantastic condition, as it has obviously been battered by the elements, and probably could have done with being cut, but it could stage a game of football and that was all that mattered.

Partway through the first half, a Hesketh Bank volunteer wandered round offering programmes for a donation, there was no minimum fee, so I paid £1.50 for what has turned out to be a great programme.

Against the run of play, Charnock opened the scoring in the 20th minute. Hesketh had had the majority of the possession, but had failed to make anything of it. Lewis Swarbrick picked up the ball outside of the box, and fired a low and hard shot past the Hesketh keeper. This goal seemed to shake the Charnock team into life, and they began to take control of the game.

Following the goal, a young lad came round selling raffle tickets for a £1, and when I heard the prize I was instantly sold, a crate of beer. I didn’t take much persuading to buy a ticket, and to be fair the money was going to a good club.

Charnock Richard were playing well down the left wing, with their left back Joshua Norgate linking up well with the left winger, Damian Dashti. Dashti seemed to be a focal point for Charnock, as most of the game was played through him, and to be fair he appeared to be a good player.

The 40th minute bought a yellow card for Charnock Richard’s number 9, Carl Grimshaw, and the referee seemed to indicate that it was for persistent fouling. Also in the 40th minute, Charnock were forced into an early sub as their number 5, Liam Hayton was forced off through injury and, number 16, David Fisher came on to replace him, this led to a tactical change with Dashti dropping back to left back, Norgate moved to centre back, and Fisher moved into central midfield, with goal-scorer Swarbrick moving out to the left wing.

Half Time: Hesketh Bank 0-1 Charnock Richard (Swarbrick 40)

At the break I decided to head round to the toilets in the Sports Bar, and I did contemplate having a beer, however I decided against it, and I’m glad I did, as the break only last ten minutes, with the ref keen to resume before the light was lost. Hesketh had stayed out on the pitch for the break, so once Charnock reemerged the game restarted. One thing that did catch my eye at the break was an advertising board in the corner, on which there was a very faded Chelsea FC logo.

Charnock made their second change of the game, as they bought their number 10, Danny Nolan off for their number 14, David Burrows.

Hesketh thought they had equalized in the 53rd minute, as they put the ball into the Charnock net, but the linesman’s flag was raised and the goal was ruled out for offside.

The 54th saw a yellow card for the Hesketh number 4, Adam Thompson, for a poor tackle.

David Burrows was to make an almost instant impact as he bundled the ball home from a corner in the 59th minute. Charnock won a corner on the left wing, and Lewis Swarbrick swung a cross in, which Burrows headed in at the near post.

Following the goal Charnock made their final sub with number 15, Keiran Mawdesley coming on to make his debut, as he replaced number 7, Danny Nolan.

Hesketh made their first change of the game as their number 11, Jack Brierley, came off to be replaced by number 12, Jordan Smethurst. Following this substitution Hesketh’s number 10, Daniel Birkby picked up a yellow card for his second foul after being warned.

The 72nd minute saw Hesketh make their second change as their number 9, Chris Nation, came off to be replaced by number 16, Josh Roberts. At some point after this substitution, Hesketh made their third and final, but honestly I didn’t notice it happen, and I only noticed when I spotted that there was a number 14, David Hogg, running around, after a quick bit of thinking, I realized that the Hesketh number 6, Richard Wilson, had gone off.

Hesketh’s number 3, Ian Dickinson, was turning out to be a proper character, in the sense that he was amusing to watch, after being fouled in the 87th minute by Charnock’s number 9, Carl Grimshaw, who was already on a yellow card, he joked that he should have made more of it, to get Grimshaw sent off, sportingly he didn’t and even more sportingly, he apologized to a female spectator for swearing, now I can’t imagine Wayne Rooney doing that!

With the light fading, the match pulled into added time, and Charnock added a third goal. Carl Grimshaw chased down an overhit cross, and managed to keep the ball in, he then got past Ian Dickinson, and delivered a cross into the box, which David Burrows met at the far post.

Final Score: Hesketh Bank 0-3 Charnock Richard (Swarbrick 20, Burrows 59 & 90)

At the final whistle I quickly headed around to my car, and drove back to Chorley, I had only had a bowl of cereal before the game, and I decided to pop into Romeos takeaway for some chips. Soon enough I was in bed, reflecting on what had been a great game at a great club.

The win for Charnock Richard sees them stay in 3rd position, and they are now level on 58 points with 2nd place Blackpool Wren Rovers, Rovers however have the better goal difference, and a game in hand. Charnock have closed the gap on Fulwood to 7 points, but even if Charnock win both of their games hand they will still be a point behind Fulwood, so Charnock will need a bit of luck if they are to win the league, in what could be their last season in this league.

Defeat for Hesketh sees them remain in 10th, and they are now on level games with 9th place Garstang, and are a point behind. However they do have two games in hand over Slyne-with-Hest, and are only two points behind them, so they could climb up the table if they win one of the games in hand.

Hesketh Bank is a brilliant club, run by friendly volunteers, and I would recommend any groundhoppers reading this to pay them a visit, I’ll certainly be back again in the future. I’m torn whether to visit Charnock Richard’s ground this season, or wait and see whether their application to the North West Counties League is successful, as if it is, I would like to see their first home game in that league. I’ve got my fingers crossed for them.

Attendance: 114 (Thanks to Wiktor, for providing the headcount!)

Hat-tricks seen so far: 3

Money spent: £2.50 (Programme and raffle ticket)

Next game: Blackpool Wren Rovers vs Royton Town, Lancashire FA Amateur Shield Final, Lancashire FA County Ground, 21/04/16

Hesketh Bank’s twitter: https://twitter.com/HBAFC

Charnock Richard’s twitter: https://twitter.com/CharnockFC

Photos: My Flickr

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