Monday 25th February 2013
National Football Museum
then at 19.45
North-West Counties League Premier Division
MAINE ROAD 6 (Warburton 42secs 85 Chappell 23 61 Bentham 27 51)
ALSAGER TOWN 1 (Aspinwall 84)
Programme (excellent) £1.50
Sometimes everything conspires to allow a quite wonderful day out. I’d wanted to visit the National Football Museum for some time, and with Maine Road kicking off in the evening that made the decision to head north a simple one. Fareham Town secretary Paul “Splodge” Proctor offered to drive too, making it an even easier day’s hopping. Many thanks Splodge, and for those who haven’t visited his club, and the excellent Cams Alders here’s why you should go.
The National Football Museum moved rather controversially from Preston North End’s ground, Deepdale and now occupies the former Urbis Art Gallery close to Manchester Victoria Railway Station. Surprisingly, its free to visit (although they suggest a £4 donation), and for my thinking double that donation would still represent excellent value for money. The scope of the exhibitions is huge, covering non-league right through to the international game from the cradle of the game in the 19th century right through to the present day. For younger fans, for an additional fee, there’s “Football Plus” sections, where you can try your hand at commentating on “Match of the Day” or testing how accurate your passing is. For me, its the sheer volume of simply irreplacable artifacts on display, some I managed to photograph. Overall, when going a game in Manchester I’d recommend finding a couple of hours first to visit, it really is that good.
The museum closes at 5pm so there was time to kill before heading over to Brantingham Road, in Chorlton. I’d done some research on Maine Road FC, and discovered they’d started life in 1955 as the Rusholme district Manchester City supporters club Sunday League team. For me Rusholme is famous for one thing, “Curry Mile” with virtually every business a tandoori! It’s changed a little since I last visited around 10 years ago, with a slightly wider range of cuisine available such as Afghan, Eygptian and Persian. You certainly won’t go hungry!
Brantingham Road used to be the Manchester FA ground, but is still owned and operated by St Margaret’s Church, which does explain the pews in the clubhouse. What was abundantly clear was that what the City fans created was a friendly, vibrant club, whilst maintaining links with the larger club, although the excellent programme does comment that since Manchester City’s move to Eastlands, they are now the premier club in South Manchester!
The ground is low slung, just hard standing behind each goal with a benched stand one side, and a small terraced stand the other, It does the job for the level but no more. The team however looked utterly irresistable, scoring through Matthew Warburton in the first minute. From then one the goals came at regular intervals with the Bullets’ hapless defence without any idea of how to cope. Alsager did manage to score completely against the play, Sam Aspinwall netting late on.
It was a cracking encounter, at a friendly club, and it was great to catch up with John from Horwich, and the NWCFL committee members. Massive thanks to Splodge for driving too, Portsmouth to Manchester via Oxford and back is a marathon stint. I should know!