Fulwood Amateurs

Fulwood Amateurs vs Coppull United, West Lancashire League Premier Division, Lightfoot Lane

After six weeks of being unable to drive I was itching to get behind the wheel of my Focus and travel to a ground that I had not been to before. My original plan was to head to Bacup Borough, but I didn’t fancy the drive, given that it had been a while since I had driven, so instead I opted for a journey to Fulwood, as with working in Preston I know the roads pretty well. There was to be an issue though, as there was an accident on the M6, and I began to doubt that I would get to the game on time, with traffic crawling along. However, typically of British roads, the traffic soon cleared and there was no sign of what caused the original issue.

Fulwood Amateurs play next door to Preston Grasshoppers Rugby Club, and the only signs outside are for the Rugby Club, so if you ever go to watch Fulwood play look for the Rugby Club, as if you look for the Football Club you’ll probably get lost. Fulwood’s ground used to double up as a Driving Range, so I can imagine at one point a volunteer has had to trawl the pitch looking for any golf balls. I believe that the Driving Range has now closed, which can only be good news for the pitch, as I can’t imagine that being hit by golf balls is good for a football pitch.

Speaking of the pitch, it looked immaculate, with a lot of hard work going in to making sure it was perfect for the season ahead, this was evident by the sight of a ride-on mower parked next to the pitch. From what I saw, Fulwood have a number of volunteers to help around the club, and I enjoyed the warm welcome that I received. With ridiculously over-inflated transfer fees flying around at the top of the game, it was refreshing going to a game where the players would have worked a full time job before playing on the Saturday. Also with over-inflated transfer fees being propped up by ever increasing ticket prices, I was more than happy to find that today’s entry price would be £2, including a programme.

As a ground at this level goes, Lightfoot Lane is a lovely little ground. There isn’t a seating to speak of, but there is a bench by the home dugout, and there are plenty of garden chairs dotted around, so if you do need a seat, I’m sure you could find comfort on one of those. There is cover, by the home dugout, and on the Driving Range, however the Driving Range end looked to be closed off, so I didn’t venture down that side. The rest of the ground is open, hard standing, but there is plenty of room to expand if the need ever arises. Although saying that, if Fulwood were to climb the leagues I would imagine that they could look into sharing with the rugby club. The dugouts at Lightfoot Lane are situated opposite each other, with the home dugout being closest to the changing rooms.

Finding the history of Fulwood Amateurs has been a difficult job, although I can say that they were founded in 1924, and have a number of trophies in their trophy cabinet. The first trophy that I can see the club have won was the Manchester & Salford Medical Charities Hospital Cup in 1937. The club joined the West Lancashire League Division Two in 1993, after spending the majority of their history in the Lancashire Amateur League, where they won the Premier Division in 1987. In their first season in the West Lancs League Division Two, the club finished as runners up and were promoted to Division One, which was renamed the Premier Division in 1998. Fulwood were to remain in the Premier Division until 2014, when they were relegated back to Division One, where they played one season and finished as Champions. The Amateurs have won the Premier Division on one occasion in 1995, and have finished in third place for the past two seasons.

I’ve seen Coppull United play before, so here is a link to that blog: https://davidsadventuresingroundhopping.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/coppull-united/. Coppull finished the 2015-2016 season in 8th, and the 2016-2017 season in 10th.

Both sides have already played two games this season, with Fulwood opening the season with a 3-2 victory at Vickerstown, and a 1-1 draw with Southport Hesketh meaning they entered this game with four points on the board. Coppull have started by beating Thornton Cleveleys 2-1, and in their second game they suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Garstang.

The game started brightly, with both sides having good opportunities to open the scoring, with only good defensive work and a lack of luck preventing one of them taking the lead. With the way the dugouts are arranged at Lightfoot Lane, I had a good opportunity to observe Tony Hesketh, the Fulwood manager, and I’ve got to say I was impressed with how he conducted himself, there was very little swearing and he didn’t question the referee’s decisions, which was good to see. In fact on a couple of occasions Tony actually reminded his players to respect the ref, which is excellent leadership.

The opening goal came in the 26th minute, with the Fulwood number 9, Danny Parkinson, firing home to give his side the lead. Conceding seemed to knock the wind out of the Coppull team, and Fulwood had a few more opportunities to increase their lead before the break, however the Coppull keeper was playing well, and kept them at bay.

Half Time: Fulwood Amateurs 1-0 Coppull United (Parkinson 26)

At half time I wandered round to the other side of the ground, and took up a place by the away dugout, and had a look at Twitter for the latest scores, I was amazed at what was unfolding at Chelsea, and if the season carries on the way it has started, the Premier League should be interesting, although I doubt I’ll pay too much attention to it.

The second half kicked off slightly late, but it kicked off and that’s all that matters. It took seven minutes for the second goal of the game to be scored, and it was the equalizer for Coppull, as their number 8, Adam Pitstock, netted a looping effort, which I am still unsure of how it managed to hit the back of the net, as I’m convinced that the Fulwood keeper should have gotten a hand to the ball.

Five minutes after the equalizer, Coppull put themselves into the lead, as Pitstock latched onto the ball, and fired it past the Fulwood keeper, to completely turn the game on its head. Fulwood seemed a bit stunned to have conceded two goals in quick succession, and they were to be even more stunned in the 64th minute, as the Coppull number 11, Liam Davies, popped up at the near post, to tap the ball home.

The 72nd minute bought a raft of changes, as Fulwood decided to go for broke and made all three of their subs at once. Off came number 10, 9 and 7 and in replacement on went 12, 14 and 15. Unfortunately there weren’t any teamsheets, so I’m unable to give the exact names of the players replaced, and can only give you the names of the scorers thanks to the West Lancashire League website. Coppull also made a change with their number 14 coming on for the number 7.

Coppull made it 4-1 in the 74th minute, as Scott Hendy fired home. I’m sure Hendy was the number 14 that came on in the 72nd minute, as from where I stood it looked like he was the one being congratulated, although I should probably have been wearing my glasses, as it would make reading the player’s numbers a lot easier.

Coppull made the second of their substitutions in the 76th minute, with number 4 coming off to be replaced by number 12. I had been impressed by the Coppull number 4, as he had put in a real shift, and looked absolutely knackered as he left the field. Coppull then made their final change in the 79th minute, as their number 9 left the field to be replaced by number 15.

Despite trailing by three goals, Fulwood kept attacking, and were unlucky not to reduce the arrears. I was impressed by the fact that at least one of the Fulwood subs looked to be under the age of 18, and as a club Fulwood are attempting to bring young lads through, with one of their lads recently signing for Blackpool.

Final Score: Fulwood Amateurs 1-4 Coppull United (Parkinson 26 – Pitstock 52, 57, Davies 64, Hendy 74)

Following the final whistle I made a quick walk back to my car, as the final scores started to roll in, with Shrewsbury and Atherton Colleries both picking up wins. Chorley on the other hand could only draw with Curzon Ashton.

Fulwood is a wonderful club, and if you are ever in the Preston area I would recommend that you pay a visit to Lightfoot Lane. In fact I would recommend just getting to a game in the West Lancashire League, as this is what football should be, played with passion by a bunch of lads that have worked all week. At this level you won’t find ridiculous wages, ticket prices etc, but you will find the real game.

Three points for Coppull sees them climb to 6th in the league, with two wins and a defeat, Coppull have started the season well. Although this season is only three games old, so everything could change. Fulwood currently find themselves in 11th with four points on the board, however they are only three points off of top spot.

Attendance: Unknown (I wouldn’t imagine that it was more than 20)

Cost: £2

Hat-tricks seen so far: 0

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/139632000@N07/albums/72157684061958962

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