Squires Gate vs West Didsbury & Chorlton, North West Counties Football League Premier Division, 04/03/17, Brian Addison Stadium
With another wet weekend underway, my eyes were firmly glued to Twitter as I attempted to work out which games would be on and which ones would fall foul of the weather. I was disheartened when my first choice game at Radcliffe Borough was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, however I was soon cheered up when I noticed the Squires Gate had passed a pitch inspection and would be hosting West Didsbury & Chorlton in the North West Counties Football League Premier Division.
I set off from Chorley at 2pm, and pulled into some street parking at 2.45pm, I would have arrived earlier however the parking at the ground was full as both Squires Gate and Blackpool Wren Rovers were at home, and I had to explore the area to find some parking. Once at the ground I paid £6 for entry and a further £2 for a programme. I made my way straight to the clubhouse before the game and bought a can of Diet Coke for a £1, before finding some cover for the first half. The rain was falling and the pitch was beginning to show signs of standing water, however the referee was happy to start the game, and that’s all that matters.
Squires Gate play their home games at the Brian Addison Stadium, named after their groundsman, and is a typical non-league ground. Along both touchlines are stretches of covered terracing, with the touchline opposite to the dugouts, containing some seating. The touchline, with the dugouts, is tight, as the border is shared with Blackpool Wren Rovers, who play next door. Behind the goal nearest to the touchlines stand the changing rooms, and a small covered stand. Behind the far goal is a stretch of uncovered terrace, which was occupied by some hardy souls who braved the rain.
Squires Gate were formed in 1948 as Squires Gate British Legion and began life in the Blackpool & District Amateur League. In 1953 the club changed their name to Squires Gate, they won the league’s First Division in 1956 and 1957, before moving to the Fylde District League for the 1960 to 1961 season. In 1961 they moved up to the West Lancashire League, where they spent the next thirty years. From 1961 to 1980 they were in Division Two and in 1981 they were promoted as champions. Squires Gate joined the North West Counties Football League in 1991, and joined Division Two. Gate were promoted to Division One in 2003, as they missed out on the runner-up spot on goal difference, however the demise of Stand Athletic led to them being promoted. There has been talk of Squires Gate, Blackpool Wren Rovers and AFC Blackpool merging into one club in an attempt to reach the Northern Premier League, but all three clubs seem happy as they are, and although they are all in a short walk of each other, it seems to work, so why fix something that isn’t broken? Gate came into this match in 17th place in the league, with their last game ending in a 3-3 draw with Winsford United.
West Didsbury & Chorlton began life as Christ Church AFC in 1908, and joined the Manchester Alliance League, where they remained until 1914. The club became West Didsbury AFC in 1920, and joined the Lancashire and Cheshire League. West played at the top of this level of this league for many years, however they were relegated in 1952 but bounced back the following season. Again they were relegated in 1960, and this time it took six years to regain a place in Division One. However this again was to be short lived as they were relegated again in 1969, and achieved promotion back to the Division One in 1971. Two relegations in three years saw West playing in the Lancashire and Cheshire League Division Three, in which they stayed until the late 1980s. In 1988 and 1989 the club achieved back to back promotions as champions. They became West Didsbury & Chorlton in 2003, to reflect their new location following a ground move. In 2006 they joined the Manchester League Division One and were crowned champions in 2011, gaining promotion to the Premier Division. In 2012 the club were accepted to the North West Counties Football League Division One, and were promoted for the 2013 to 2014 season, as they finished third in the league in their first season at level 10, and as Formby failed to meet ground criteria, West Didsbury & Chorlton were promoted. Coming into this game, West find themselves in 10th in the league with their last game resulting in a 3-0 win at Barnton.
As I have mentioned, this match was played in parts in torrential rain, with the rain only easing for periods. As a result of this I took cover under one of the terraces, and felt sorry for the players on the pitch. West Didsbury & Chorlton started the game in white shirts with black sleeves, and finished the game in brown shirts with black sleeves. Despite the poor conditions both sides attempted to play some good attacking football, with the ball spending a lot of time on the floor.
It took until the 36th minute for the opening goal to arrive, West Didsbury & Chorlton had put Squires Gate under some sustained pressure, and finally Nic Evangelinos netted following a good through ball, which saw the keeper leave his line, however Nic got to the ball first and guided it home.
Half Time: Squires Gate 0-1 West Didsbury & Chorlton (Evangelinos 36)
At half time I headed back to the clubhouse, and bought another can of Diet Coke for a £1, before heading around to the opposite touchline, where I watched the subs warm up. Blackpool Wren Rovers’ match against Fulwood Amateurs had kicked off and I had a peek over the fence to watch until the Squires Gate game kicked off again. (The Wren Rovers match finished 3-3.)
It took a minute for Squires Gate to pull level, the ball was worked down the left wing and put into the box, where Ben Seear was on hand to bundle the ball home.
The rain had increased at this point, and I made my way back round to the cover on the opposite touchline. As I reached the cover, the rain turned torrential, and I felt pleased with myself for my decision to move.
West made their first change in the 73rd minute, as they switched their number 10 for their number 15. They followed this change with another in the 75th minute as their number 9 left the pitch to be replaced by their number 14.
An even game looked to be heading for a draw, as both sides had chances to get themselves into the lead, however it was to be West Didsbury & Chorlton who got their noses in front in the 84th minute. The ball was drove in from the right wing, and Nic Evangelinos fired it goal wards, the ball was diverted into the back of the net by the Squires Gate number 8, however the North West Counties website has it down as a second goal for Nic Evangelinos.
West made it 3-1 in the 86th minute, as Nic Evangelinos secured his hat-trick, technically. The ball came down the left wing, and was played onto the edge of the area for Nic, who took a touch and fired the ball into the bottom left hand corner. Following this goal, West made their final change with their number 8 being replaced by their number 12.
Final Score: Squires Gate 1-3 West Didsbury & Chorlton (Seear 46 – Evangelinos 36, 84, 86)
An even game was decided in the last ten minutes, as West showed a clinical touch in front of goal. I think they were helped by the fact that Squires were down to their bare bones for the game with Gate not making any changes in the second half. Maintaining a good level of fitness must have been difficult given the heavy pitch, and I feel Squires should have come out of the game with at least a point.
Following the final whistle, there was a bit of a row between one of the linesmen and some of the Squires’ players, however this disagreement was half a dozen of one and half a dozen of the other. The linesman in question hadn’t been shy and retiring when it came to dealing with the players and had told some of the players to “shut up and get on with the game” on a number of occasions. Whilst I would encourage officials to stick up for themselves, I do feel as though the linesman may have crossed the line.
A win for West Didsbury & Chorlton sees them move up to 9th in the league, with 33 games played they find themselves on 48 points, and are two points ahead of 10th placed Abbey Hey, who have a game in hand over West. I feel West should be happy with a top half finish for this season, and should use it as a chance to build. I was impressed with how West played, as they played a positive attacking game, and I want to make the trip down to their place soon.
Defeat for Squires sees them remain in 17th place, they’ve played 36 games this season, and are only a point above Barnton in 18th, who have three games in hand. Worryingly for Squires, they are only fifteen points ahead of Nelson who occupy 20th place, whilst fifteen points may be a good cushion, Nelson have five games in hand over Squires. However just because Nelson have games in hand, it doesn’t mean they are guaranteed the points, and I feel Squires should survive this season.
I enjoyed my visit to the Brian Addison Stadium, however I just wish it hadn’t rained as it had, as the rain definitely had an impact on the match, with the ball holding up on the touchline in particular.
Finally, I have recorded my trip to Squires Gate, and this video will be uploaded shortly. I’ve decided to start to show my groundhopping adventures alongside my gaming on my channel, and would appreciate it if you would have a watch of the video and let me know what you think of it, all feedback is welcome! Video here!
Movember Total: £24 (£7 from today’s game)
Hat-tricks seen so far: 1 (Well done to Nic Evangelinos!)
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwALgmjeZV7OMP8euGBOi5A (Reminder the gaming videos on this channel contain NSFW language and those that are offended by swearing or violence should avoid these. The groundhopping videos are clean however.)