Charnock Richard vs St Helens Town, North West Counties Football League Division One, 27/08/16, Mossie Park
The last time I saw Charnock Richard play was when they faced Hesketh Bank, back when they were in the Bay Radio West Lancashire League, and at that time they were waiting to find out whether they would be successful in their application to join the North West Counties Football League, and obviously they were successful and this would be their first season at this level. Also in the Hesketh Bank blog I had stated that I wanted to try and get to Charnock’s first home game in this league, however that fixture was to fall on one of the Saturdays that I work, the 13th August, a game which ended in a 4-1 defeat to Alsager Town.
But with no work this Saturday I decided that this would be the day when I would head to see Charnock Richard play. With the ground only being 2.2 miles away from my house in Chorley, I decided that I would walk to this game, and began to map out the pubs I would stop in. In an attempt to ensure that I wouldn’t be completely hammered by the time I got to the football I limited myself to a couple of pubs. Joining me for today’s match would be Adam, who as a poor, deluded Liverpool fan wanted to ensure he could watch the Tottenham vs Liverpool match, so we set off from my house at noon, and headed down to the Sebastapol pub, near to my father-in-laws’ house. This bar used to be known as Sam’s Bar Too, and it has been a while since I stepped foot inside. A lot has changed, for the better, in the Sebastapol, and I was delighted by the presence of a dog in the pub. Following a quick pint of Carlseberg, a game of pool and plenty of attention for the dog, we left and headed on towards Charnock.
As anyone that saw my snapchat story from last week’s adventures in Euxton, you would be aware of my dislike of hills. My wife had been warning me about the hill on the way into Charnock, but being a stubborn idiot, I decided I knew best and soon regretted it, as we trekked up the hill. Fortunately the Dog & Partridge appeared in the distance, and I soon gained second wind, and soon a pint of Fosters was in front of me. Unfortunately this pub wasn’t showing the Liverpool match, and we quickly finished our pints and headed off to Charnock Richard’s Mossie Park. With the clubhouse located, we headed inside and found ourselves in a very smart building, where Adam was delighted to find they were showing the Liverpool match, he wasn’t too delighted by Spur’s late equalizer, but that’s football. A 3rd, 4th and 5th pint passed my lips in the clubhouse, before we headed over the road to the ground.
That’s right, the main pitch where Charnock Richard play is across the road from their clubhouse. The club used to play on the pitch next to the clubhouse, however a lack of space meant that they would be unable to develop the facilities by the clubhouse, and so they built a new pitch over the road, where there was space for them. Mossie Park is a smart ground for this level, and to be fair could grace the higher leagues. A cricket pitch stands next to the football pitch, only separated by a fence, and a number of cricketers stood by the fence to watch the football, whilst they weren’t batting. A small seater stand straddles the halfway line opposite the dugouts, and there is plenty of space for this to be extended if it ever becomes necessary. Behind the goal, closest to the turnstiles, stands the changing rooms and a small refreshment hut, around the rest of the ground is hard standing. Entrance for today’s match was to cost £4, and a further £1.50 was spent on a smart looking programme.
As I’ve covered Charnock Richard before so I won’t repeat their history here, and will leave the link to my previous blog involving Charnock (https://davidsadventuresingroundhopping.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/hesketh-bank-afc/). However in the time between the last time I saw Charnock play and this blog, they have been accepted into the North West Counties Football League which exposes them to new teams, new grounds and more of a chance to progress upwards, which I can only imagine is what the people involved at Charnock want. This season has seen Charnock play six league games so far, with four of them being away from home, so far Charnock have won three games, draw twice and lose once, which sees them sit in 2nd place in the league, which is good going for a team playing their first season at this level.
St Helens Town, currently sit in 16th in the league, with four games played this season, which has seen them win once, draw once and lose twice. However it is only August and there is plenty of football to be played. The original St Helens Town were formed in 1901, but despite enjoying early success, they struggled after the First World War and by all accounts they folded in the 1928/1929 season. They were re-formed in 1946, and joined the Liverpool County Combination in the 1947/1948 season. In 1948 Bert Trautmann joined the club, and he helped them to win the George Mahon Cup, the new side’s first trophy. Trautmann joined Manchester City in October 1949, but despite this the club managed to win the Lancashire Combination Second Division in the following season. St Helens were founder members of the North West Counties Football League in 1982, and until recently were the only side able to boast that they had played every season in the North West Counties’ top flight until they were relegated in 2015. The 2015/2016 season saw St Helens finish just outside of the play-off places, as they lost to, eventual champions, Hanley Town in a match they needed to win to get into the play-offs.
Both sides started the game well, with St Helens looking to improve upon their current form, and position in the league, and Charnock looking to pick up their first home win of the season.
The 19th minute bought the first change of the game as the St Helens keeper, Lee Novak, had to be replaced due to injury, with Matty Hodge taking his placed. Novak didn’t appear to be injured, and I had initially thought that Hodge was the main keeper, and had arrived late to the game, but anyway I hope that Novak’s injury isn’t too serious.
St Helens opened up the scoring in the 30th minute, as some neat passing down the right wing, opened up the home defence, and George Lomax, number 10, kept a cool head and slotted the ball past the Charnock keeper.
Ten minutes later St Helens doubled their lead, as Adam Halton, the Charnock keeper, raced off of his line to clear the ball, however his clearance fell to the feet of, number 11, Philip Williams, who spotted the keeper off of his line and with a brilliant finish, lobbed the Charnock keeper from the halfway line.
Half Time: Charnock Richard 0-2 St Helens Town (G Lomax 30, Williams 40)
With the half time whistle, we headed back around to the clubhouse, where the 6th pint of the day was consumed. Happily I saw that Shrewsbury were 2-0 up against Gillingham, and Chorley were still level with Worcester City. The second half had kicked off by the time we finished our pints, and we headed back across the road to the football.
The Charnock manager must have had serious words with his players as they flew out of the blocks, in an attempt to get back on level terms. The Charnock team, in their white shirts and green shorts, began to press forward, and were unfortunate not to score in the opening minutes of the second half.
Charnock did score in the 50th minute, as their number 10, David Burrows, swung the ball in from a free kick on the right of the box. The ball travelled through the crowded penalty area, and despite the number of bodies in the area, the ball nestled into the back of the net at the back post.
In an effort to change things up, Charnock made a switch in the 56th minute as number 3, Anthony Hough, was replaced by number 12, Danny Smith. Charnock’s Damian Dashti dropped back to the centre back role, and Charnock moved in to a 3-5-2 formation to match St Helens.
The change in formation resulted in Charnock having more of the ball, and they began to dominate down the wings, however St Helens were playing well, and coupled with Charnock’s misfortune in front of goal, St Helens remained in the lead.
Another change was made in the 68th minute by Charnock as their number 4, Ryan Thompson, came off to be replaced by their number 15, Stephen Mercer. Charnokc made their final change in the 78th minute as their number 14, Luke Barrow, came on to replace the number 7, Mark Adams.
St Helens killed off any chance of a Charnock comeback in the 81st minute, as Philip Williams popped up again to score his second of the game. Williams capitalized on some poor defending to slot the ball home from close range, to hand St Helens all three points.
The wind seemed to have disappeared from the Charnock Richard sails, and the remainder of the game was played out without too much threat to either goal. St Helens did make some changes to their team, as their number 9, Christopher Lomax, was replaced by their number 14, in the 83rd minute, and in the 90th minute, they swapped their number 2, Daniel Greene for their number 16.
Final Score: Charnock Richard 1-3 St Helens Town (Burrows 50 – G Lomax 30, P Williams 40 & 81)
Following the final whistle a 6th pint was drunk in the clubhouse, and I was grateful for the beer as I found that Shrewsbury had somehow given up their two goal lead, to go on and lose the game 3-2. Happily though Chorley had won, beating Worcester 1-0. Not fancying the walk back to Chorley we ordered a taxi, and soon enough found ourselves in the Ale Station in Chorley, where I enjoyed a fantastic pint of Czech Lager before we headed to the Ale Festival at Chorley Cricket Club. Following an enjoyable evening watching cricket, we headed back to our respective homes, with the result of a day’s drinking being a hangover for myself.
Defeat for Charnock has seen them slip to 7th in the league, however with this being such an early stage of the season, there is still everything to play for. Charnock have played seven games so far this season, which does mean that the teams around them have at least one game in hand, so if Charnock are to stand any chance in the promotion battle they’ll need to continue their good away form, and would need to start winning at home. Mossie Park is a lovely little ground, and I have plans to visit again in the future, next time I do it though, I’ll be doing it sober so that I can properly explore the ground in full.
Victory for St Helens Town sees them climb to 15th in the league, and with two games in hand over some of the teams above them, they could climb into the play-off places if results go in their favour. St Helens deserved the win today, as football is a game of chances and they took theirs when they were presented.
Cost: £5.50 for entrance and a programme
Hat-tricks seen so far: 0
Next game: Atherton Colleries vs Cammell Laird 1907, North West Counties Football League Premier Division, 10/09/16
Charnock Richard’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharnockFC
St Helens Town’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/sthelenstownfc