Skelmersdale United vs Kendal Town, FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round, 29/10/16, Stormy Corner
In all honesty this may actually be the first FA Trophy game that I’ve ever attended, unless during my childhood I went to one at Uxbridge, and I’ve since forgotten, but for the purpose of this blog, we’ll call today’s match my first game in the FA Trophy, and although I missed the Preliminary Round I may try and get to a game in every round of this competition, however last year I decided I was going to complete the Welsh Premier League and that didn’t happen, so I may not set myself a challenge, seeing as how I’m not great at keeping to challenges.
Back in Chorley, following a weekend in London, it was down to the Groundhopper App on my phone to decide today’s match, and it came down to either a visit to Skelmersdale or Ramsbottom, and in all fairness Skelmersdale won due to the name of their ground, Stormy Corner. Although given the weather I was rather hoping that it wouldn’t be stormy down at Stormy Corner, as we’re getting very close to the usual couple of months of postponements.
Happily the game was on, and following a quick trip down the M6 and M58, I arrived at Stormy Corner for around 14.27, at the turnstile I paid £9 for entry, and as soon as I was in the ground I paid a further £2 for a programme. From the turnstile I decided to head to the clubhouse, and had a pint of Carlsberg for £3, and I marveled at the memorabilia on the walls, one piece that caught my eye was donated by a certain Mark and Alfie Lund, but more on them later. Whilst in the clubhouse a man came round with teamsheets, but he was heading to the programme hut, and rather sensibly instead of selling them in the clubhouse and potentially losing money, they were selling them for 20p each at the programme hut, so that all the money was together. Once I finished my pint I headed round to the hut and purchased a teamsheet. During my lap around the ground I decided that today would be the day I would win a raffle, and bought a ticket for a £1. I didn’t win, I never win.
Skelmersdale United were formed in 1882, and in 1909 they joined the Liverpool County Combination, and in 1911 they won the first of their Championship titles. The club played in the Liverpool County Combination until 1955, and during their time in this league they finished as champions on 10 occasions, with the club also picking up the Liverpool County FA Challenge Cup on 8 occasions, and the George Mahon Cup 5 times. The club were to reach the Amateur FA Cup on 1967 & 1971, which saw the club grace the hallowed Wembley turf, with the club losing against Enfield in 1967, and winning in 1971 as they beat Dagenham. In 1971 the club joined the Northern Premier League, but this was to be an unhappy time for the club, with financial problems crippling the club, and performances on the pitch being less than impressive, the club joined the North West Counties League in 1982, but spent three seasons avoiding relegation to the 2nd Division in the early 90’s before the inevitable happened and the club slumped to their lowest level in 1996. The club were to soon recover, and promotion to the Northern Premier League Division One North occurring in 2006. The club then won the title, and promotion to the Premier Division, in 2013. However in recent times the club has again experienced financial difficulty, and have recently found themselves around the bottom of the league, with the club currently occupying 24th place in the Northern Premier League Premier Division.
Kendal Town were formed in 1919, as Netherfield AFC, when employees at K Shoes Netherfield factory were encouraged to form a football team. They were provided with land near to the factory at Parkside and began to compete in local leagues. In 1925, the club won the Westmorland County Cup, its first notable success. The club became a member of the Lancashire Combination League in 1945, and in that year played their first game against professional competition as local rivals Barrow visited in the FA Cup. The club were to gain recognition in the FA Cup as they reached the first round on a number of occasions, with the club playing Watford in the 2nd Round in 1950, Gainsborough Trinity in the 1952 to 1953 season, Wrexham in 1954 to 1955, and Grimsby in 1956. In 1968 the club accepted the challenge of becoming a founder member of the Northern Premier League, however the club spent the majority of the 70’s languishing around the bottom of the league. The club then moved to the NWCFL Division One in 1982, however in 1987 following expansion to the Northern Premier League with the creation of Division 1, the club moved back to this league, and in 1998 they changed their name to Netherfield Kendal. However the 2000’s saw a demise of shoe making in the town, and with the Netherfield site now a shopping centre, the club rebranded as Kendal Town. In 2006 the club won promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier Division, following a nail-biting play off final against Gresley Rovers where former manager Peter Smith scored the winning goal to seal promotion. Recent times have seen the club playing in the Northern Premier League Division One North, with the club currently occupying 9th.
Skelmersdale moved into Stormy Corner in 2004, and the ground is a smart one. There is plenty of parking at the ground, and it is rather easy to find with it being well signposted from the M58. Stormy Corner is a smart ground, upon entering through the turnstiles, the clubhouse is to the right, with a covered terrace in front of it, this seemed to be where the majority of Skelmersdale fans stood, to watch their team from behind the goal. Along the touchline, to the right of the turnstiles, is the Main Stand which provides the only seating in the ground, it is a smaller stand, which is raised giving a good view of the pitch. Behind the far goal is a stretch of hard standing, bordered by grass banking, which is the same along the other touchline.
Before the match there was a minute’s silence, however the tannoy seemed to be having some technical issues, and I didn’t catch the reason for the silence, but nevertheless it was impeccably observed.
The game didn’t actually kick off until 15.05, as the goal net, at the Kendal end, had come lose from the support. However someone soon fetched a ladder and after a short delay the game kicked off, with Skelmersdale taking the early attacking initiative.
It didn’t take long for the opening goal to come, and following their dominance in the opening stages, it was Skelmersdale who took the lead in the 8th minute. Luke Wall, the Skem number 11, found himself in space down the left wing, and he crossed the ball low and hard into the area, where Max Hazeldine, the Skem number 9, was on hand to divert the ball into the back of the net.
The early goal seemed to shake Kendal awake, as they began to come forward. Both sides were finding plenty of space down the wings, and it was clear at an early stage that this game was going to contain goals.
Kendal equalized in the 16th minute, as their number 9, Oliver Wood, found himself in plenty of space in the area, and his shot was deflected over Martin Fearon in the Skelmersdale goal, to bring the scores level.
Half Time: Skelmersdale 1-1 Kendal Town (Hazeldine 8 – Wood 16)
An even half finished with the scores level, which was probably a fair outcome given how evenly matched the teams were. At half time I headed around to the refreshment hut, and bought a cheeseburger and a Diet Coke for £3.50, the cheeseburger was lovely and I could have happily eaten another. For the second half I decided to take a seat in the Main Seat, as I’m either getting a cold or just getting old, as my back and muscles began to ache. However after sitting down for the opening twenty minutes, I decided that I would go back to standing.
As I’d predicted this game was going to contain a number of goals, and it was Kendal that scored next, as in the 63rd minute, Oliver Wood sprang the offside trap, and after a tussle with one of the Skelmersdale defenders, Wood raced forward, and with Fearon off of his line, Wood took his time, picked his spot and curled the ball round the keeper. The Skem bench called for handball, and my initial reaction was that the ball had touched Wood’s hand as he attempted to break away from the defender, however the touch had been accidental so the ref was correct not to disallow the goal.
The 73rd minute bought the first substitution of the game, with Kendal replacing their number 10, Thomas Kilifin, with their number 14, Robert Bowman. Kilifin looked to have been carrying an injury, and the change also gave Kendal another chance to stretch the Skelmersdale defence.
Skelmersdale then made two changes in quick succession, with Phil Mooney, number 2, leaving the field in the 74th minute to be replaced by number 15, Chris Almond, and in the 76th minute Skelmersdale replaced their number 10, Callum Mahoney with their number 12, Ben Hodkinson.
Kendal made their second change in the 80th minute, with number 16, Ben Thomas, coming on for number 11, Matthew Dudley. I did begin to wonder whether both benches were holding a sub back in case of extra time, but soon dismissed the thought as I realized that this would go to a replay.
With Skelmersdale looking for an equalizer they were leaving the bare minimum back in defence, with the Skem keeper playing as a sweeper-keeper, which meant that Kendal began to threaten from distance, and had a couple of chances to increase the lead from distance, but these chances either hit the post, went wide or were dealt with by the keeper.
There was to be one final goal in the game, and finally Kendal netted a chance from distance. A poor clearance fell to the feet of Kendal’s number 3, Paul Dugdale, who made no mistake from the halfway line, with the Skelmersdale keeper a spectator as the ball made its way into the back of the net.
Final Score: Skelmersdale 1-3 Kendal Town (Hazeldine 8 – Wood 16, 63, Dugdale 90)
Following an even first half, Kendal upped their game and fully deserved the win, with them advancing to the next round of the FA Trophy. So I’ll be keeping an eye out for who they draw in the next round, and I’ll try my best to get to the game, hopefully I’ll be able to see a game in each round of the competition, but I’m not holding my breath.
Skelmersdale were unlucky to lose as their play in the first half was good, however they couldn’t sustain the same level of performance in the second half which ultimately was their downfall. Hopefully results will pick up soon, as relegation is a real threat at this moment in time.
A real highlight of the day though, was meeting Mark and Alfie Lund, now if you don’t know who they are, let me explain. Alfie is a brilliant little lad, who has MECP2 Duplication Syndrome, which means that Alfie requires constant care and special equipment. Back in August 2012, the Alfie Lund Fund was launched with the aim of raising enough funds to buy Alfie a specially adapted bed, and after a successful football tournament and family fun day, the initial expectations were exceeded, and it provided the start of something much bigger. The funds raised through the Alfie Lund Fund have enabled Alfie’s family to purchase a disability trike, travel bed and some sensory toys for Alfie, and also to build a nest egg for Alfie so that he can enjoy the comfortable life that he deserves. As Alfie is one of only 35 children in the country diagnosed with MECP2 Duplication Syndrome, the fund also raises money to support other families through MECP2 Duplication UK. Personally I first heard about Mark and Alfie Lund through one of Matt Harrison’s Lost Boyos blogs, and have followed the charity ever since. Recently Mark Lund has been selling some of the donated shirts and memorabilia on Facebook to help raise further funds for the fund, and I was delighted to meet Mark and Alfie today, and as soon as I got home I had a rummage around and found a couple of bits to donate. If you would like to read more about, or donate to, the Alfie Lund Fund then this is the link for their website here, and if like me, you are a collector of football shirts, this is the link for the Facebook page where the shirts are being sold click here.
On a final note, it is coming up to Movember, and I will be partaking despite the fact that I’ve never had much luck with growing facial hair. As a result of Movember I will be donating 50p per goal seen during Movember, and if I see any hat-tricks I’ll donate an extra £5. If you want to track my progress during Movember, I’ll be posting photos on my Instagram, here.
Hat-tricks seen so far: 0