Groundhop at Squire’s Gate

To the first game of the season, the North West Counties league and a coastal train to the environs of Blackpool. Game One – Squire’s Gate vs Congleton Town.

Beforehand, I had been given the impression that it would be the visitors taking the game to the Fylde, which turned out not to be the case. It was the home team, resplendent in two-tone shirts, who made the early chances count, turning in a very comfortable 4-0 lead by half-time.

It was grassroots stuff, top to bottom, from the tumbledown ground to the confusion caused by referee whistles coming from an adjacent game. The ground had some nice touches – a social club style bar with a TARDIS-effect gents, wooden gantry stands with room for flasks of tea, and the “St Annes Fish Restaurant Stand” with club initials freshly daubed in blue emulsion.

Best goal of the game was a simple freekick turned into an up-and-under which neither wall nor keeper had much chance in stopping. Squire’s Gate had the better pace and space awareness – at times, the only thing Congleton had was a couple of forwards who had very little strength.

Although Congleton did wake up (“They drew the second half, FACT” noted my fellow ‘hopper), it was far too little, far too late. It did shake Squire’s a bit – notably their keeper turned into a right old flapper.

North West Counties has plenty of decent sides who always make for entertaining matches, which this turned into even with the massive deficit. Enjoyable and within walking distance of a fair decent pub. Nowt wrong with that.