Burscough vs Ossett Town, Evo Stik Division One North, 10/12/16, Victoria Park

With Christmas rapidly approaching, this probably would have been a good day to do some Christmas shopping, as I still haven’t bought the majority of the Christmas presents that I need to buy. Luckily my wife has sorted the presents for the kids, and I think she’s sorting out the presents for everyone else as well, so with that in mind I headed off to Burscough today.

Burscough are a team that I’ve heard of before, thanks to Football Manager, as they appeared in the official version during their time in the Conference North, and thanks to the hardwork of a couple of modders, they’ve appeared in the unofficial add-ons, and to be fair they’ve always been a team that have intrigued me. To be fair, I’ve no idea how to pronounce the name of the place, I’ve been pronouncing it as Burs-cough for a while, but recently people have corrected me and it’s, apparently, supposed to be Burs-cow. This is just like the Atherton pronunciation thing again, so if anyone with the ability to pronounce Burscough correctly is reading this, please feel free to attempt to teach me how to pronounce Burscough correctly in the comments.

After a short drive from Chorley, I arrived in Burscough, and parked up on the Tesco car-park, as recommended by the Burscough website. From Tesco I walked around to the High Street, and found my way to Victoria Park, and soon discovered that there is a quicker way to get to Victoria Park, instead of walking up to the High Street, just head to the car-park entrance, and turn left, there will be a sports complex in front of you and the ground is next to this. I found it a little strange that the turnstiles on Mart Lane were closed, but as I was later told, these are closed due to the fact that someone drove into them, rendering them unusable. Fortunately the club have other turnstiles, and I paid £8 for entry, and £2 for a programme. Once through the turnstile I paid £1 for a raffle ticket, and had a walk around Victoria Park, partway through my walk, I decided to stop for a drink and headed in to the refreshment hut by the Main Stand, the main entrance for this refreshment hut, is tucked away at the back, and I had to rely on the signs dotted around for guidance on how to get in, however once inside I was pleasantly surprised by the large space I found myself in, with plenty of tables and chairs, I was quickly served at the counter and paid 70p for a can of Pepsi Max.

Victoria Park is an old-fashioned Non-League ground, and to be honest I really liked the place. To my right, through the turnstiles I had emerged through, was a covered terrace, which straddles the halfway line, and on my left was the club house. Next to the covered terrace were a number of fences, which blocked access to a strip of grass. Behind the goal, to the right of the covered terrace, is another covered terrace, which provided some very welcome cover in the second half. Along the other touchline was a strip of hard standing, with some low garden walls, which must be a perk for those living by the ground, as they can just sneak in, not that I encourage that. On this touchline stand the dugouts, and on the other side of the halfway line stands the Main Stand, which provides the only seating in the ground. The changing rooms are housed under this stand, and by the looks of it the elevated Main Stand provides good views across the pitch. Just passed the Main Stand, as I have already mentioned, stands the refreshment hut. Along the other byline, is hard standing, with the out of action Mart Lane turnstiles, after taking a look at them, you can clearly see where the accident happened, as the brick work is starting to separate, and I hope Burscough are able to get this fixed soon. Behind Victoria Park is a Tesco Extra, which I’m sure has been hit with a number of wayward shots!

The first Burscough Association Football Club were formed in 1880 and played in the Liverpool & District League, before folding in 1900. Burscough Rangers were then founded in 1905, and moved to Victoria Park in 1908, in the 1920s they won the Liverpool County Combination Championship on three occasions, and in 1926 they purchase a grandstand from Everton and erected it on Victoria Park. In 1927 they joined the Lancashire Combination, but never experienced the same level of success, and in 1935 they folded due to financial difficulties. Following the Second World War, the present club were founded, in 1946, and started life in the Liverpool County Combination, before joining the Lancashire Combination in 1953. Burscough were to win the Lancashire Combination First Division title in 1970, but soon joined the Cheshire County League the following season. As with a lot of clubs in the Cheshire County League, the club were founder members of the North West Counties League, and had the distinction of becoming the league’s first ever champions. In 1986, a new grandstand was built to replace the one bought from Everton FC, as it no longer met safety regulations. In 1990 the club experienced their first ever relegation as they dropped out of the NWCFL Division One, but just a season later they gained promotion back to Division One. In the 1997 to 1998 season the club finished as runners-up in the NWCFL Division One, and were promoted to the Unibond League, and in 2000 they were promoted to the Unibond League Premier Division. Burscough were to become the smallest side to ever win the FA Trophy as they beat Tamworth 2-1 at Villa Park, on the 18th May 2003. During their Diamond Jubilee season, Burscough won the treble, under Liam Watson. The Lancashire Co-Op Trophy was won, after Burscough beat Marine, and the Unibond Northern Premier Division was secured following a victory at AFC Telford, which saw Burscough climb to the top of the table on goal difference, over Witton Albion. Further success came as Burscough beat Buxton in the Peter Swailes Memorial Shield. Burscough were to remain in the Conference North for two seasons, as they were relegated back to the Unibond Premier Division in 2009. Following a turbulent time in the club’s history, with the chairman stepping down, and the Supporters Club raising the funds to complete the 2009 to 2010 season, the club ended up in a groundshare with Skelmersdale United, however this groundshare only lasted for part of the 2010 to 2011 season, and Burscough were back at home halfway through the season, however during the 2011 to 2012 season the club were relegated down to the Evo Stik Division One North. Recent results haven’t been brilliant for Burscough as they sit bottom of the league, with only two wins this season, and five draws, the club currently have eleven points on the board, and are six points adrift of Ossett Albion who sit in 21st.

I’ve actually covered Ossett Town before, when they were the visiting team at the Giant Axe, home of Lancaster City, which you can find here. Ossett currently sit in 4th place in the league, and are two points off of Scarborough Athletic who are top of the league, however Ossett Town have a game in hand over the leaders. However Lancaster City and Trafford who sit in 3rd and 2nd respectively have games in hand over Ossett Town, so this should lead to an interesting campaign in the race for promotion.

For a team bottom of the league, Burscough started the game fantastically, as they conjured up attack after attack on the Ossett goal, and if it hadn’t had been for the Ossett keeper, Leigh Overton, Burscough would have raced into an early lead.

During the first half, a familiar face appeared, and I spent a couple of minutes chatting football with Mark Lund. I first met Mark at Skelmersdale, and to be fair I admire the guy for his fundraising efforts. As you, the reader, may be aware Mark’s son Alfie has MECP2 Duplication syndrome, and Mark has raised over £10,000 for charity. After meeting Mark and Aflie at Skelmersdale, I sent him two Shrewsbury shirts, which I am glad to say have been sold and have raised some money for this fantastic cause, and I also sent a Shrewsbury and a Chorley scarf which have been added to the football scarf chain. If you have any old football memorabilia that you would like to donate, please get in touch with Mark, as everything helps!

Burscough’s dominance was soon to end, and Ossett Town began to show why they are 4th in the league. Ossett began to push forward, and were looking increasingly dangerous. In the 24th minute, they opened the scoring as their number 7, Jake Ellam, picked up the ball on the left hand side of the area, and curled an exquisite shot in to the top right corner. The only way to describe my reaction to this goal, was through a noise. You know the noise, it’s one that you may have made yourself, it’s the noise you make when you are in a restaurant and your food is served, and it’s an amazing looking and tasting meal, or the noise you make when you see a super car, and it accelerates, or the noise when you see a person that you find attractive. The noise of appreciation. If this goal had been scored in the Premier League we’d be seeing replay after replay of it but unfortunately I don’t think there were video cameras at today’s match.

Just a minute after the opening goal, Burscough were to find themselves down to ten men, as their number 2, Deklan Hill, was dismissed for a rash tackle. I’m not being harsh on the lad when I say the tackle was atrocious, it was poorly timed, and it was lucky that he didn’t injure the other lad, there was a bit of handbags afterwards, with Burscough’s number 5, Liam Hollett, getting involved. By the looks of it, Deklan is only a young lad, and I feel that this challenge, and what happened after could potentially be due to his age, and him just getting frustrated. Hopefully the lad will learn from this experience, as from what I saw of him in the first twenty minutes, he does look to be a solid defender.

In the 31st minute, Burscough made a change, with their number 7, Ezekiel Bademosi, making way for number 14, Keenan Quansah. The change looked to be purely tactical, with Burscough looking to settle their defence.

Half Time: Burscough 0-1 Ossett Town (Ellam 24)

At half time I made my way back round to the Refreshment Hut, and bought a coffee for a £1, which I proceeded to burn my tongue on. I made my way to the hard standing next to the dugouts, and watched the Ossett Town subs warming up, with one of them putting in a good shift as a keeper. It had begun to rain at this point, which meant that my coffee was re-filling itself.

The game restarted with Ossett Town looking to increase their lead, but to be fair to Burscough they didn’t give up the fight. The Burscough number 5, Liam Hollett, wasn’t making himself popular with the away fans, but I honestly don’t think he would care too much what they thought, he was putting in a number of strong tackles, and was having a good game at centre back. As captain he was looking to lead by example, and he seemed to be the kind of player you would want on your team, but the kind of player you would hate to play against.

Ossett made their first change in the 60th minute, with their number 15, Charlie Freeman, coming on in place of the number 9, Alex Peterson. Freeman looked to be a young lad, but his pace and dribbling put a lot of pressure on the Burscough defence, and he looks to be a good player for the future.

Burscough were forced into a change in the 73rd minute, as they were forced to replace Liam Hollett, their number 5, with their number 12, Ryan Schofield. A couple of minutes before the change Hollett had been involved in a clash with one of his team-mates, as they both competed for the same ball. Hollett came out of the clash with a head injury, and spent a while receiving treatment. He did get to his feet, but he was clearly feeling the effects of the clash, as he was clutching his temple. Although he insisted he was fine, I don’t feel he should have ever taken to the field again, and he should have been replaced straight away. He clearly wasn’t happy when his number was displayed, and he made his feelings clear as he left the pitch.

Ossett made their second change in the 75th minute, with Steven Ridey, number 8, making way for Jason Yates, number 14. In the 78th minute, Ossett made their final change, with Bradley Riley, number 11, coming off to be replaced by number 16, David Brown.

Despite the man advantage, Ossett were struggling to increase their lead, and Burscough were beginning to look like they were going to equalise. With this in mind, Burscough made their final change in the 87th minute, with their number 6, John Holmes, being replaced by their number 15, Conor Smith, as Burscough attempted to force their way back into the match. However this wasn’t to be the case, and Ossett Town saw out the game.

Final Score: Burscough 0-1 Ossett Town (Ellam 24)

Following the final whistle, I made my way out of the ground and back to my car on the Tesco car-park. Whilst driving home, the results were read out on the radio, and I was amazed to hear that Shrewsbury had won away at Millwall, in fact I was so amazed that when I got home I had to ask my wife to check, as I couldn’t believe what I had heard.

A win for Ossett Town sees them climb to 2nd in the league, and they are now level with Lancaster City who now occupy top place. Lancaster have three games in hand over Ossett Town, but those points aren’t guaranteed. Scarborough have slipped to 3rd place, and even this position looks to be under threat, as Trafford occupy 4th and have two games in hand, as well as only being a point behind. At the opposite end of the table, Burscough now find themselves nine points adrift, and must be hoping for a miracle, as relegation would see them fall into the North West Counties League.

Victoria Park is a great ground, and is certainly full of charm, and I would recommend paying a visit if you are able to. I received a warm welcome from those associated with Burscough, and to be fair the ground is pretty much next to the train station which makes travel easy.

Seeing as how this is now the second time I have seen Ossett Town play, I feel like I should probably head down to their place, and take in an Ossett Town home game, so that’s another ground on my list of places to visit.

As this will probably be my last blog before Christmas, unless I can find some football on Christmas Eve, I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, I hope you have a lovely day doing whatever you are doing, and I hope whichever team you support wins on Boxing Day. Unless you are a Bolton Wanderers fan, as the mighty Shrewsbury Town will be giving me a late Christmas present, in the shape of three points.

Attendance: 67

Cost: £12.70

Movember Total: £8.00 (50p from today’s game)

Hat-tricks seen so far: 0

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/139632000@N07/albums/72157677699176975

Burscough’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/BurscoughFC1946

Ossett Town’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/OssettTownAFC


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