Penrith vs Atherton Collieries, FA Vase Third Road, 03/12/16, Frenchfield Park
I think we can all agree that 2016 hasn’t been the greatest year ever, we’ve seen multiple celebrities pass away, and we’ve seen some catastrophic news in the world of politics. But the events of this week have put it all in to perspective for myself, this life is short and there isn’t time to wonder about what may happen. When I heard the news that the flight carrying the Chapecoense team had crashed on their way to their first ever Copa Sudamericana, I was shocked and saddened. I hadn’t heard of Chapecoense before, however after reading their story, and seeing the videos of their celebrations, after reaching the final of the Copa Sudamericana, I couldn’t help but feel upset by what had happened. But then the footballing community began to show their true colours. Footballers get a lot of stick in the press, some of it deserved and some of it not, but the tributes, donations and general goodwill has been heartwarming, with leading Brazilian teams offering players for free, and demanding that Chapecoense be exempt from relegation, and Atletico Nacional, Chapecoense’s opponents in the Copa Sudamericana, stating that they want the trophy to be awarded to Chapecoense, along with the other stories that have emerged, football has shown that it is a family, we may not always like each other, but at the end of the day we all share the same love.
As I’ve said in previous blogs, I am now aiming to get to as many FA Vase and FA Trophy games as possible, and when I noticed that Atherton Collieries were travelling to Penrith for their FA Vase Third Round game, I decided that this would be the game I would attend. Before today, I had never been to Penrith, and I must admit I had to look it up on Google Maps, which told me that it would be an hour and twenty minute drive up the M6, which in all fairness didn’t sound too bad. The Colls’ fans were also excited by this trip as they announced they were taking two coaches with them to the game, and from what I’ve read and seen of Colls’ away days, they always seem like fun. So after replacing my car’s headlight bulb, there’s always something wrong with this car, I headed off to Penrith, with my fingers crossed that there wouldn’t be a late pitch inspection.
After a clear run up the M6, and after driving through some beautiful scenery, I arrived at Frenchfield Park, home of Penrith. For some reason I parked outside of the Frenchfield Sport Centre, a busy facility which houses the changing rooms for the park pitches by it, I’m not sure why I decided to park where I did, but to be fair I was glad to be out of the car, and it was only a short walk to Penrith’s ground. The Collieries’ coaches had already arrived, and I headed to the turnstiles. After paying £7.50 to get in, including a programme, I made my way up to the back of the Main Stand, where Penrith’s clubhouse is. The clubhouse itself is a smart affair, and after paying £3.20 for a can of Fosters and a Twix, I took a seat and watched the remainder of the Man City vs Chelsea match.
I believe, and please correct me if I am wrong, that Penrith moved to Frenchfield Park in 2007, and the ground is a smart one. The turnstiles are next to the main stand, which provides the only seating in the ground, and as I have already mentioned the clubhouse is at the back of this stand, the views from the stand are good. The main stand straddles the halfway line, and is all in cover, either side of this stand are the dugouts, with the changing rooms housed underneath. Opposite the main stand, is a covered terrace, which again straddles the halfway line. Around the rest of the ground is hard standing, with the refreshment hut standing in a gap in the fence, next to the turnstiles. The ground is in a very picturesque area, with rolling hills behind one goal, and snow covered hills/mountains (?) in the distance.
Penrith FC were formed in 1894, and began by playing in local leagues, before joining the Carlisle and District League, which they won on a number of occasions. In the 1948 to 1949 season the club joined the Northern League, where they remained until 1982, during their time in the Northern League, they finished as league runners-up in 1962, and were twice finalists in the league cup, however they lost on both occasions. Penrith then became founder members of the North West Counties League in 1982, and in the 1983 to 1984 season they finished as runners up in the First Division. Penrith then joined the newly formed Northern Premier League First Division. Penrith were to win the Tennants Floodlit Trophy in the 1994 to 1995 season, beating Atherton Collieries in the final. Penrith were to re-join the Northern League in the 1997 to 1998 season, and have seen their fortunes fluctuate. After finishing sixth in their first season back in the Northern League, the club were relegated in the following season, and spent four seasons in the Second Division, and in 2003 the club were promoted back to the First Division as champions. Penrith as a club have won a number of honours, including the Cumberland Cup on 16 occasions. Recently the club have been on an okay run in their last five games, with two wins, one draw and two defeats, Penrith haven’t played competitively since the 19th of November, as the weather has begun to affect their ground, and this means that the club have only played 16 games in the league this season, and currently sit in 18th in their league. However Penrith do have eight games in hand over Jarrow Roofing who currently occupy 17th, and if Penrith were to win each of their games in hand they could climb the table rapidly, as they have at least three games in hand over teams in their league, and have nine games in hand over a couple. To reach this stage of the FA Vase, Penrith have beaten, Durham City 5-3, Team Northumbria 4-2, Easington Colliery 3-1 and Newcastle Benfield 1-0.
I’ve covered the history of Atherton Collieries before, here, so I won’t cover that again. Recently the Collieries have been performing well, and find themselves in 3rd in the league, five points behind league leaders Runcorn Town. In their last five games, Collieries have racked up five wins, and to reach this stage of the FA Vase, Collieries have beaten; Jarrow Roofing 5-0 and 1874 Northwich 3-0.
Before the game I bought a cheeseburger and a Diet Pepsi from the refreshment hut, and to be honest I would have happily paid more than the £3.70 I paid, as the cheeseburger alone was well worth the money I paid, it was gorgeous, and if I had had more money, I probably would have bought another one at half time.
There was to be a minutes silence before the game in respect of all those that had been involved in the Chapecoense plan crash, this silence was impeccably observed, and I hope that it was well observed up and down the country.
With the game underway, Collieries began to threaten down the left wing, with their number 11, Mark Truffas, providing a constant threat. Despite the fact that Penrith hadn’t played for near on two weeks, it wasn’t easy to tell, as they played well and didn’t show any signs of having not played for a while.
It was unfortunate that the game was on level terms at the break as both sides had had good opportunities to open the scoring. I’ve got to be honest, as I do feel Penrith were lucky to have not had a man sent off, as their number 4, Grant Davidson, was lucky to only see yellow for a poor challenge on Mark Tuffas which left the Colls player in a heap on the floor.
Half Time: Penrith 0-0 Atherton Collieries
Just before half time I had walked round to the clubhouse, and had purchased a can of Fosters, so at half time I stood and drank my can, before finding a space to stand for the second half. At half time, Colls made a change with their number 10, David Sherlock being replaced by their number 14, James Brooks. Also at half time, Colls’ number 6, Daniel Lafferty, changed his shirt, and emerged for the second half in the number 16 shirt, although to be fair, he may have actually been wearing the number 16 shirt at the start of the game, and I just didn’t notice.
In the 53rd minute Penrith made their first change of the game, with their number 12, Kevin Connelly, replacing their number 7, Jamie Street.
As I said in the first half, both sides had had chances to open the scoring and it was clear that this game was not going to be a 0-0, it was just a case of when they would score, not if they would score. Until the 58th minute when Colls opened the scoring. Colls had won a corner on the right hand side, and the ball had been delivered into the box, the ball then ended up on the byline, and it was put into the near post, where Colls’ captain and number 5, Matthew Grimshaw, was on hand to bundle the ball home. The Colls fans, players and bench went wild, and I found myself celebrating as well. I try to be neutral for every game I go to, unless it involves Shrewsbury or Chorley, and although I have a soft spot for Colls, I didn’t think I’d celebrate the way I did.
Penrith made another change in the 62nd minute, with their number 11, Bobby Atkinson, leaving the field to be replaced by their number 16, Andrew Murray-Jones.
Colls doubled their lead in the 68th minute, as Mark Truffas broke down the left wing, and passed the ball into the centre for number 9, Jordan Cover, Cover took a touch before guiding the ball home with a deft finish. Again the Colls bench, players and fans went wild, myself included, with Cover picking up a booking for celebrating with the fans stood on the touchline. (The Atherton Colleries’ twitter has some fantastic photos of the celebrations, the link for their twitter will be at the bottom of this blog)
Cover was the man to make it 3-0 to Colls in the 75th minute, as he broke through the centre of the pitch, and eluded the Penrith defence, before firing the ball past Jonny Jamieson in the Penrith goal, to send the Colls lot wild again. Following the goal Penrith made their final change, with their number 14, Richard Faustino, taking to the field in place of their number 6, Benjamin Jackson.
A couple of minutes after the third goal, Colls made another change, with Jordan Cover leaving the field to be replaced by number 15, Justin Pickering, I must admit that I felt sorry for Cover as he was replaced, seeing as how he was a goal away from a hat-trick. Colls made their final change in the 81st minute, with the brilliant, Mark Truffas leaving the field to be replaced by number 12, Liam Wood.
Final Score: Penrith 0-3 Atherton Collieries (Grimshaw 58, Cover 68, 75)
At the final whistle I made my way around to the Main Stand, and clapped the Colls’ players off of the pitch, they had played well all game, but had definitely upped their game in the second half, and Penrith found it difficult to contain them. It was whilst I was clapping the players off, that I saw possibly the greatest thing I’ve ever seen at a football ground, as one of the Colls’ fans, who I am guessing had had a bit to drink, had bought a Christmas Tree, and was proudly waving it around, now this wasn’t a big tree, it was just a small one in a pot, but it was still quite a sight.
Once the players had left the pitch, I made my way back down to my car, and set off home for Chorley, the drive home was uneventful and I was soon back in the warmth, which was a welcome thing, as it was bloody cold in Penrith.
Despite the cold, I was glad that I visited Penrith, they have a fantastic set-up and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the game at Frenchfield Park. The ground is brilliant, and would serve Penrith well if they were to advance up the leagues. Good luck to Penrith for the rest of the season, and to anyone reading this, if you find yourselves near to Penrith, as they are near the Lake District, I would certainly recommend popping down to Frenchfield Park to watch a game.
Collieries’ win today sees them make history, as they advance to the 4th round of the FA Vase for the first time in their history, and I will be keeping an eye out for their next tie in this competition. As I expected the Colls’ fans were fantastic from start to finish and made plenty of noise, cheering their side on. To be honest, when I say I have a soft spot for Colls, what I really mean is that they are my second favourite team in Lancashire, after Chorley, and to be fair when I’m finished with groundhopping, if I’m still living in Lancashire, I might end up splitting my time between Shrewsbury, Chorley and Atherton Collieries. I’m not sure why I like Colls as much as I do, there is just something about them.
Movember Total: £7.50 (£1.50 from today’s game)
Hat-tricks seen so far: 0
Atherton Collieries’ Twitter: https://twitter.com/ACFC1916
Penrith AFC Twitter: https://twitter.com/penrithfc