Apologies again for the lack of activity on my part. I don’t know what it is, but this year I can’t seem to motivate myself to write many posts. I could blame work, I could blame several things but it’s just bone-idleness on my part quite frankly.
It was the 1st round proper of the FA Vase last weekend. Last year the Vase gave me three of my most enjoyable football matches of the season when I watched both legs of the semi final between Tunbridge Wells and Shildon, plus Newport IOW beating Brighouse Town. There’s something quite magical about the Vase. Relatively speaking the standard of football is very good. It’s open to teams who play below Step 4 or Level 9 of the English Football League. Five divisions below Torquay (four by the end of the season). 535 teams entered this season with 2 preliminary rounds before the 1st round begins. I guess for these 535 clubs, it works a little in the same way that the Johnson’s Paint Trophy works for League 1 and League 2 clubs after they’ve lost out in the whatever the frig they called the Carling Cup or the FA Cup, just as the FA Trophy is seen as extra flavour for clubs who fail in the last hurdle of the FA Cup first round proper qualification. For clubs below Step four it’s a very good chance to win a bit of silverware and crown themselves in a bit of glory and it’s my belief that the motivation to win it is so much higher.
Last year’s FA Vase was won by Spenymoor Town who beat Tunbridge Wells 2-1 in the final after both teams knocked Guernsey (on the crest of a Crawley Town style bankrolled wave) and Shildon respectively. Teams from the North East have been particularly dominant in the competition for the last 6 or 7 years, but the Northern League is probably the strongest Step 5 league around.
They’ve got used to me at work now. Colleagues ask me where I’m off to and give them the name of a place they’ve never heard of, or they don’t believe the place I mentioned even has a football team. Bromsgrove. Staveley Miner’s Welfare. Belper Town. Desborough. Beer Albion. Seaton Town. Plus a couple of glory trips in the FA Cup to see Harrogate Railway Athletic and Hemel Hempstead. I’m sure that they think I’m a little odd. Last Friday the vacant looks I got when I said “Glossop” meant that I had to add references to the Peak District, Snake Pass and somewhere in between Manchester and Sheffield. Vacant faces. The product of too much armchair football. Too many Super Sundays.
So off to Glossop we went. The long suffering wife of the designated driver (and fellow photographer) did us mighty proud by packing us up with Ham and Salad rolls (with chopped spring onion), imitation monster munch (which tasted absolutely fine), Lemon Drizzle Alpen bars (79 calories), Iced Gems (rather more than 79 calories) and cartons of Ribena and a Tesco own brand Orange Drink rather naughtily called “Fruit Splash”. We belted up the M1 at a reasonable rate. The Citroen Xsara Picasso loyally clinging to the middle lane with the briefest of forays into the other 2 lanes. Love you Andy. Then a brief stop over in Chesterfield to try and buy 35mm camera film as I’d packed the old Minolta 7000. No joy in Tesco or Lloyd’s Pharmacy but I did point out the North Sea Fish Bar to Andy. We shall dine there sir. Haddock the length of a computer keyboard. Humongous portions of Haddock that are harpooned rather than “line-caught”.
We set off again cross country going through the village of (Ken) Barlow before emerging at the fantastically over-elaborate Owler Bar Roundabout. The Hanger Lane of the Peak District. Before driving through the quite well to do Hathersage en route to Bamford and the Ladybower Reservoir. After that it’s a brief left onto Snake Road and the Snake Pass. The very same Snake Pass made famous the world over by John Shuttleworth’s “Incident on Snake Pass” and where the Inspiral Carpets shot their video for “This is how it feels”. It’s lovely scenic road and when you pop over the summit and descend towards Glossop you get to see the Manchester skyline in the background rising up like it belongs in the Game of Thrones opening credits. You also get to see the derelict Ferro Alloys chimney which towers 250 feet above Glossop standing like some gritty version of the Washington Monument. It was at one point attached to the Armament factory and only built in 1977, but now it’s standing alone in a pile of rubble whilst various authorities and groups try to work out if it should be demolished and who’s going to foot the bill when it does and more importantly who gets the proceeds if they find out it’s got a bit of Titanium in it.
A quick drive through the bustling town center and we negotiated our way to Surrey Street past a industrial unit with a several different examples of Saabs including a beige Saab 96 in decent nick. 6 quid to get in. A very friendly welcome from a couple of club officials and the kitman. I bought myself one of their very nice (Award Winning according to club photographer Jim) Steak and Potato Pies with northern ectoplasm and gravy. A bargain at two quid. How in god’s name football league clubs are allowed to charge more for an inferior product I’ll never know. At northern non league grounds you also don’t get 16 year old acne-clad oiks of both genders serving you food either, it’s sturdy ladies with honest smiles and warm hearts.
The club has a fairly unique history. Founded in 1886 they had a pretty meteoric rise from an amateur club, to the Combination in 1894, turning professional, to the Midland League and then finishing up as runners up to Manchester City in their first ever season in the 2nd Division. They were subsequently given the first 2nd automatic promotion spot and became members of the first division. The dropped the North End part of the name in order not to get confused with Preston. They were largely bankrolled in those days by Samuel Hill-Wood who later left Glossop to pile his money into Arsenal and was instrumental in bringing Herbert Chapman to the club from Huddersfield. If he kept his coin in Glossop who knows what might’ve happened. Glossop North End 1 Borussia Dortmund 2 anyone? Instead Glossop have been in steady decline since and now ply their trade in the North West Counties Premier Division (Level 9). Their opponents for the day were a team from called Kinsley Boys who come from Kinsley which is loosely in between Barnsley and Pontefract or in between Hemsworth and Featherstone if you really know your Yorkshire onions. Lots of Miners Welfares around those parts. Kinsley Boys play in the Central Midlands Football League North Division which at level 11 of the pyramid.
It’s a wonderful place to watch a game of football. Peak District scenery, a proud little ground and 250ft Chimney behind “The Trenches”. Poor old Kinsley Boys were 3-0 down before that knew what hit them. To be fair the gulf in class was only evident in the final third of the pitch. Better chances and better finishing the order of the day. The burly Kinsley number 5 got frustrated and started effing and jeffing until the Sergeant Major ref decided to get hold of him and give him the full treatment. They rallied somewhat after a half time bollocking. They created one or two decent openings. They forced a corner. The Kinsley number 8 got all excited and decided he’d try a Spartacus style call to arms. “One goal gets us back in this, just one goal. Come on lads, lets do it for the cunt”. I presume that the cunt he was referring to was the manager or was it an inner demon?
But after that brief interlude, Glossop North End gradually turned the screw and began to dominate. Kinsley Boys looked knackered although the sweary number 5 decided that a man-and-ball type challenge was need. He caught the bloke and the ball right on the sweet spot. The ball flew like an exocet through the open fence and almost took an Alsatian dog through the wall into Surrey Street. The Alsatian let out a Scooby Doo style yelp and then couldn’t work out what to do next. I was hoping for full attack mode but after a minute or so of looking perky and wondering what the fuck happened, he settled back down again. Glossop ended up winning 7-0. “Men against Boys” said the GNE Official Website. I couldn’t sum up it any better.
Anyway it was a really pleasant day out. I’ll certainly keep an eye out for their results now as well as wear the scarf on the commute into work. I like how I can show off the word “Glossop” as the scarf sticks out of the coat. No doubt I’ll find some dullard who thinks it’s a Pompey scarf or, god forbid, a Chelsea one. Although, on a sour note, I read after the game that the social club had been broken into and a fair bit of damage was caused. I hope that the gits who did it get the appropriate punishment. Dangle the buggers from the top of that chimney, perhaps.
Our day finished off with a Sunset over Hope Valley and then Battered Minkie Whale and Chips in Chesterfield. The best chipper in England. Although I think I may have mentioned that before.