Saturday, 9 October 2010

Burscough 0 – 2 Halifax Town; 05/10/10.


Another record of away travelling for me (Burscough must be 75 miles away from Leeds), at least for a Tuesday. But when the opportunity comes up I'm prepared to gamble on me being able to concentrate on a 9am Wednesday lecture for the lads. In the gathering dark, the car ignores all signs to Skelmersdale, and instead we're lead into a very surprisingly quaint land of poshly distressed brick, village shops, and coming up to Victoria Park, a row of trees decorated in white fairy lights. A Tesco (Tescough?) is open nextdoor, open until 10pm tonight so unhappy fans can quickly nip in to buy a six-pack of diabolical Fosters to forget about the past two hours. Other than the terraces lining two corners of the ground there are unlit fields and it feels as if Victoria Park sits on the corner of the flat earth.

The bar is pseudo-old timey and a comfortable place with warm Burscough fans who tend to be getting on a bit and draped with a green and white scarf. Scarves of clubs from across Europe cover up the walls. No real ale though, sadly. As we go over to the turnstiles, kids on BMXs start to congregate. Inside the ground is an elevated stand that seats over 200 on one side of the pitch, a terraced area opposite it and one behind the goal with a neat little pitched roof, but at the time of snapping it the local kids, being the loudest in the ground at the time, had made it their home. At the end of the main stand is the snack bar, accessible from a big white room on the inside too which gives it the appearance of a works canteen. The ground has an old-fashioned feel but is kept very tidily, with the grass to the left of the main stand kept at least as well trimmed as Ashton United's entire pitch. The chap at the club shop kindly gives me an Evo-Sticker for free to slap wherever I please and gives another Shayman a Farsley Celtic scarf for two quid.

Burscough unveil new plans for undersoil heating.

The first half was one of the most low-key ones yet. There were enough moves in the midfield to keep it interesting, Tom Baker in particular always going that bit extra to dispossess his man; the way he'll launch through them or dash to the other side is a rare phenomenon when done so often, and he in particular was responsible for keeping us safe from the league's lowest scorers. Similarly with both our plays and theirs, who were consistently good at closing down play but with no decent striker to boot. At the half-time whistle the worry was whether we'd be unable to crack them and a stray goal would steal the points from us.

And in the second half the Linnets did score. As soon as substitute Ashton Bayliss got a touch of the ball from an interception, he deftly flicked the ball and lobbed . . . his own keeper. I've no idea whether I've watched 100 or 500 football matches (professional, semi-professional), but I've never seen such a gift of an own goal. We went mental in the stand behind.

The onus was on us now we had a roof to bring out the acoustics of the Shaymen choir, as well as because the hordes of Burscough kids had decided to see if they could stir up anything. Unfortunately for them, they were (metaphorically) dragged by their ears to the side of the terrace by the stewards who formed a human wall that the kids nevertheless pressed up against, despite getting nowhere near any aggro throughout the match. Sad how things go, and props to the stewarding that came when it was needed, provided by B'cough-supporting volunteers. Could've used that stewarding when a similar amount of Clitheroe kids tried to attack me, etc. Not everything went unscathed however, as after a perfectly good-hearted post-match brick-throwing, one of the supporters' coach windows broke through. Under 16s are now only allowed into Victoria Park with an adult, a grim thing to have to impose on a struggling club, but the right amount of action.

Oh, then there was another goal. Garner took a corner kick and scored from it. Another new goalform for me to cross off and something I can't quite comprehend when watching the replays. Coming with just a few minutes left, it sealed a game that was bound to be low-scoring from far out of the Linnets' reach.

Notable banter:
Burscough kids: "We love you Burscough, we do!"
Town fan: "I've got an ASBO, for you!"

"Past your curfew, duh duh duh-duh!" (to Papa's Got a Brand New Pigbag)

"Children! What's the score? Children, children, what's the score?"

We need to pick on fans our own size.

Burscough 0 – 2 Halifax Town; att. 494
Ground: 7/10
Pitch: 8/10
Programme: 2/10 (Robbery at £2. In its entirety was nine paragraphs of content, and 14 pages of adverts on the trot)
Talent: 0/10
Non-partisan entertainment: 6/10


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