Saturday 19th July 2008 (3-00 pm)

Prestwich Heys 3 Hindsford 2
Goldline Trophy Group 1 at Sandgate Road
Attendance: 70 (headcount)

Weather: sunny

For many years, I’ve noticed fixtures for the Goldline Trophy without really knowing much about it. I had an idea it was a competitive competition with the final at Bolton’s Reebock Stadium. In fact it began in 1988 and something the clubs that enter really want to win. Prestwich won the 2006/07 competition with Euxton Villa being successful last season.

Sixteen clubs have entered the 2008/09 competition which begins in pre-season with round-robin group games- four teams per group with the top two in each group going forward to the quarter finals. The group games are competitive affairs with five substitutes available. Unlike a friendly, once a player is taken off in a Goldline game he can’t return at a later point in the game.

Two fixtures were scheduled for Saturday 19th July but the one at Bolton County was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. Fortunately, the one at Prestwich went ahead as planned.

Founded in 1938, Prestwich Heys have a proud history which includes a run to the FA Amateur Cup quarter finals in 1970. They were founder members of the North-West Counties League but dropped down to the Manchester League in 1986. They won the Premier League title for three consecutive seasons, 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07. Originally based at Grimshaws on Heys Road, they moved to the present Sandgate Road home during the early 1990s.

Travelling by car, I approached the ground from M60 Junction 17. From the roundabout, follow A56 northbound then turning right at the second set of lights, by McDonalds and Aldi, onto the A665 signed Crumpstall. At the next set of light by the Mercedes Benz garage, turn left into Thatch Leach Lane. Go under the railway bridge and continue to the Frigate public house. Turn right into Sandgate Road at the mini roundabout, cross the motorway and the round entrance is on the left. I guess the nearest railway/tram station is Besses O’ The’ Barn.

There is a spacious car park with the pitch behind the concrete-panelled fence. The pitch is fully enclosed by the aforementioned fence with hard-standing all the way round. All the facilities are on the touchline nearest the entrance, namely changing rooms and a neat clubhouse. At present there is no cover or lights.

An excellent 20-page programme with full-colour cover was included in the £2 admission charge and it is certainly a credit to Heys, as it the website.

Both Prestwich Heys and Hindsford are members of the Manchester League Premier Division. Last season Prestwich finished a ‘difficult’ season in 7th position after manager Adie Moran tragically died in summer 2007. This season the squad has been completely rebuilt after a lot of first-team regulars had opted for ‘pastures new’, as manager Liam Morrissey acknowledged in his programme notes. Hindsford began the new season with a new management team in control at Squires Lane. Former player Simon Hampson is the manager with Assistants Neil Critchley and Alan Brown.

Prestwich (red and white striped shirts with red sleeves, black shorts, red and white hooped socks) got the game underway defending the car park end of the ground and they broke the deadlock in the 9th minute. A mix-up between the Hindsford keeper and defender allowed Mat Jolly to nip in and slot home from a narrow angle into an unguarded net. An opportunist goal by Jonny Morris levelled things up in the 19th minute. By the midpoint of the first half, the weather started to brighten. So much so that I felt a little overdressed in fleece and cagoule – but it soon turned dull again with the wind still as blustery. The visitors took the lead a couple of minutes before the interval. Andy Grainger latched onto a ball over the top and lobbed the advancing keeper.

Hindsford wore an all navy blue kit but numbers, ‘HAFC’ logo and sponsors details really stood out in vivid pink. Checking the sponsor’s website on my return home, it was as I thought - pink ties in very nicely with the sponsor – a cherry liqueur.

The match was all-square in the 54th minute. Anthony Cutler slipped a pass to Sam Smith inside the area who got past the keeper and slotted home. The goal that proved to be the winner came three minutes later. James Barker was impeded inside the area and Jolly put away the resulting penalty. As the second half progressed, rain looked on the cards but thankfully held off apart from some light drizzle at the end. The game looked like being a rare ‘cornerless’ affair, until the one and only corner was conceded in the third minute of stoppage time at the end!