North West Counties League first divisionAttendance: 176
Normally when I park for a step six league match I expect to be within Ralgex-sniffing distance of the changing rooms. Not today. The queue of cars on the approach road at 2.30pm stretched back over 100 yards from the ground almost to the site of Nelson’s original Football League ground (see ‘Some history and geography’, below). Demolished in 1980 to make way for the M65, today the site is just an area of bare gravel surrounded by a high brick wall. Despite my best efforts I found no trace of the site’s previous usage and decided against doing too much David Bellamy-ing in the rhododendrons on the other side of the wall (part of the public Victoria Park) for fear of being apprehended.
The best view is from the bedrooms of the 18 fine Victorian cottages that run along one side of the pitch. In fact, Holme Terrace is so much the focal point of the ground it’s like a sort of surrogate main stand. All that separates the accommodation from the action is 20-yard sward of grass and temporary Heras fencing with a couple of gates within it for ball retrieval. Looming immediately behind the terrace and giving a wonderful sense of Pennine place is a chimney from an old cotton mill.
As the light faded (very early on such a dank and squelchy day) two Christmas trees and an open fire in the sitting rooms glowed all the brighter making this surely the cosiest, most domesticated backdrop to a football ground in the country. I was hoping for a door to open and a call of “anyone for tea and crumpets?” but it sadly never came. Darkness and floodlights often improve the atmosphere at a match and particularly so on a winter’s afternoon at Nelson.
The Admirals sailed into the match in third place in the division just one behind Northwich and on the back of six straight wins last month which won the manager the manager of the month award. That proved not to be the curse it often is and, indeed, Nelson very much picked up where they had left off by opening up a three-goal lead within just nine minutes. The last of them was a penalty, unmerited in the eyes of the boisterous Northwich fans, who went ballistic at the officials. Their side was quickly awarded a penalty, though, which was converted (see below).
The match continued to be a cut and thrust, end to end encounter chockful of chances and feisty challenges. I expected Northwich or just “74” as their fans call them, to level the match but Nelson continued to give as much as they got – in more ways than one.
Bacup, Clitheroe and now Nelson have provided a hat trick of vintage Lancastrian outings this season and there’s more to come.
Crook Town. In the 1920s they played in the second division of the Football League achieving wins against Man United (away), Leeds and, in a pre-season friendly, Real Madrid. In the 1950s they were managed by Joe Fagan who went on to lead Liverpool to European Cup glory in 1984. See here for more.
here for more in an article from When Saturday Comes.
Highlights: To find them I initially Googled “nelson tv” and was presented with a list of footage about the activities of another, slightly more high profile Nelson currently in the news. I like the way you can hear the rain dripping on the camera’s hood.
The Cup’s up: The FA Cup is well and truly over for another year. Not a single shock in the second round not a tie of any novelty in the third.
Consett have opened their new ground. A Newcastle United XI provided the first opposition, Peter Beardsley featuring in the line-up.
The ultimate northern outpost: I took great interest in Tottenham’s Europa League match against TromsØ at the northernmost ground in the world. Lots of great scene setting pics here, the pic of the bunch reproduced below.