West Didsbury & Chorlton 2 Formby 3

Saturday 4th August 2012
West Didsbury & Chorlton 2 Formby 3
North-West Counties League Division One
At: Recreation Ground, End of Brookburn Road, Chorlton, Manchester
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1-50p (20 pages)
Weather: long spells of warm sunshine, brief shower
Attendance: 108
Duration: first-half: 46:00; second-half: 50:00

West Didsbury & Chorlton celebrated their first-ever North-West Counties League game with a hearty warm welcome to everyone who’d headed to the Recreation Ground and almost marked the occasion with a point. West Didsbury came from behind against Formby to eradicate a two-goal half-time deficit then conceded a cruel injury-time winner soon after having a defender sent-off.

During the past few years, it has been something of a growing tradition of mine to watch a promoted side play their first game in a higher league. It started with Stafford Rangers’ first league game at Grays Athletic after promotion to the Conference National from Nationwide North in 2006 and has continued right through to this afternoon.

12/8/06 – Stafford Rangers away at Grays Athletic (Nationwide Conference)
11/8/07 – Farsley Celtic at home to Stafford Rangers (Blue Square Premier)
9/8/08 – Dinnington Town at home to Liversedge (NCEL Premier Division)
8/8/09 – Padiham at home to Alsager Town (NWCL Premier Division)
11/8/10 – Handsworth at home to Glasshoughton Welfare (NCEL Division One)
7/8/11 – AFC Liverpool at home to Alsager Town (NWCL Premier Division)
4/8/12 – West Didsbury & Chorlton at home to Formby (NWCL Division One)

The ‘selling point’ for me of West Didsbury & Chorlton over a number of other clubs was that I could leave the car at the station and let someone else do the driving (i.e. train/tram driver). Travelling via Manchester Piccadilly, I took the tram to Stretford Metrolink for a 20-minute walk to the ground (though I subsequently discovered that the station at Chorlton on the St Werburgh’s Road line was closer).

I bumped into Steve Munday close to the Horse and Jockey pub while walking to the ground and amongst the host of groundhoppers present at the ground were Chris Powell and Bob Powell (not related), Mark Hartley and mate (who asked me for the line-ups) as well as the NLP’s ‘Sad.Hopper’. In fact, the club announced ‘London, Nottingham, Birmingham, Blackpool, Stafford and closer to home, Stockport’ as the home of some of those present. Nice to get a town check!

Promotion to the North-West Counties League for West Didsbury & Chorlton was the culmination of a three-year plan and they moved up from the Manchester League. Inside the clubhouse was display titled ‘A game of two halves, 1908-2008. Here’s to the next 100 years’ and one section of particular interest related to the ground. After their home of over 60 years, the Christie Playing Fields, was redeveloped into an industrial estate, the first and second teams began playing at the Brookburn Road Recreation ground at the start of the 1996/97 season following a period as a nomadic club with no permanent home. Now the ground boasts an impressive clubhouse, 50 seats behind the goal at the clubhouse end as well as the floodlights needed for promotion.

Formby (in yellow shirts with blue shorts and socks) got the game underway defending the clubhouse end in the first half and former Runcorn Town winger Emini Adegbenro fired wide with just 23 seconds on the clock. A 30-yard well-struck free-kick from Francis Smith stung the hands of Steve Mellor and the West Didsbury goalkeeper did well to claim the loose ball.

West Didsbury were certainly given a touch baptism by a lively Formby side who took the lead just before the half-hour mark. Kyle Hamid delivered a wicked corner which Mark Kirby headed against the bar and captain Mikey White smashed home the loose ball.

Formby defender Kevin Pollard rescued his side by clearing shots from both Tommy Walsh and Liam Beckford in quick succession from West Didsbury’s first corner delivered in the 37th minute by Lewis Schofield.

To underline their dominance of the first half, Formby doubled their lead just before the break. Hamid got clear and steered a low shot past the helpless Mellor.

I retreated to the clubhouse at the interval and discovered badges on sale for £3 each.

Even though Formby carried on creating chances at the start of the second half, West Didsbury narrowed the gap in the 54th minute with first-ever NWCL goal. In what looked like a harmless attack, Tommy Walsh fed Liam Beckford who shot low to the goalkeeper Joshua O’Connell’s right against run of play.

However, Formby were awarded a penalty within two minutes of the goal for a foul on Hamid by Schofield. White stepped up only to blast the spot kick over the bar (pictured right).

While West Didsbury provided much tougher opposition in the second half, Formby continued to threaten. Kevin Pollard sent a free header over the bar and the impressive Hamid hit the bar with a quickly-taken free-kick. I watched the second half from behind the goal at the clubhouse, first at pitch-side (and overheard from a tall man wearing a grey shirt that Great Britain women’s team pursuit trio had broken the world record) and later in from the back row of the stand.

To their credit, West Didsbury got back on level terms in the 86th minute and looked to have done enough to earn a point. O’Connell could only block a header by Dave Conlon from Tre Willis’ well-struck free-kick and Walsh hammered home the loose ball.

Joy quick turned to despair as Jones, in my opinion, harshly received a second yellow card and West Didsbury were forced to play the closing stages with ten men.

Football can be cruel and it certainly was at the Recreation Ground for West Didsbury when Formby scored a stoppage time winner. Hamid hit another fabulous free-kick into the area which White touched into the net (such a feint touch that I initially credited Hamid with the goal).

Despite the sending off and Formby’s late winner, West Didsbury & Chorlton’s first North-West Counties League game was a success and I’m sure all the groundhoppers present would agree. Club Press Officer Simon O'Neill said via the NWCL website: “Despite the score, we won several new friends during the day with the many ground hoppers and fans in an encouraging crowd of 108 commenting favourably on the quality of the hospitality, clubhouse fare and match day programme".

West Didsbury & Chorlton (white with black sleeves / black / black): 1. Steve Mellor, 2. Mike Kennedy, 3. Scott Jones, 4. Mark Woodcock, 5. Alex Baird, 6. Dave Conlon (capt), 7. Callum Jones, 8. Danny Summers, 9. Tommy Walsh, 10. Liam Beckford, 11. Lewis Schofield. Subs: 12. Andy Levendis (not used), 14. Tre Willis (for Beckford, 68), 15. Matt Eckersley, 16. Joe Warmington (for Woodcock, 78), 17gk. Ben Simpson (not used).

Formby (yellow/blue/blue): 1. Joshua O’Connell, 2. Marvin Molyneux, 3. Gary Edwards, 4. Kevin Pollard, 5. Mikey White (capt), 6. Joe Walker, 7. Francis Smith, 8. Mark Kirby, 9. Jason Carey, 10. Kyle Hamid, 11. Emini Adegbenro. Subs: 12. Kieron Brislen (for Pollard, 90+1), 14. Joseph McKane (for Walker, ht), 15. Connor Smith (not used), 16. Jason Caraher (for Adegbenro, 78), 17. Connor Murphy (not used).

0-1 Mikey White (29)
0-2 Kyle Hamid (45)
1-2 Liam Beckford (54)
2-2 Tommy Walsh (86)
2-3 Mikey White (90+4)

West: Scott Jones (YC, 15), Lewis Schofield (YC, 56), Dave Conlon (YC, 86), Scott Jones (YC/RC, 89), Mike Kennedy (YC, 90+2)
Formby: Kyle Hamid (YC, 86)