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Saturday 14th September 2013 ko 15.00

Midlands Regional Alliance Premier Division

ROWSLEY 86 2 (T Baker 29 Roome 85)


Att 8

Entry FREE


No Programme

Head north on the A6 from Matlock and in around 6 miles you’ll reach the pretty village of Rowsley. It’s at the confluence of the rivers Derwent and Wye, and was the site of an extensive marshalling yard for the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway. The station was frequently used by King Edward VII when he visited nearby Chatsworth House. The station became a goods depot until 1968, when it was closed and converted to a contractor’s yard. It then became the centrepiece of a shopping development which is still open today. Perhaps it goes without saying I didn’t pay it a visit!

Usually when I arrive at a new ground my first thought is, “How do I photograph this?” With School Lane, this one was straightforward. Pull back the long lens and get as much scenery in as possible! The Derbyshire Dales are arguably the foothills of the Peak District, and whilst in purely footballing terms School Lane features little more than a rope and a rather dilapidated pavilion, the vista is one of those places where even an atheist appreciates the insignificance of 22 men kicking a bag of wind around when set against the backdrop.

Other then the view, the only reason to go was Newhall, and their general manager Dan Bishop. He’s one of the big personalities of the non-league game in the area. Newhall has managed to be peripatetic in the last few years, playing in the Midland Combination, Leicestershire Senior League and the Midlands Regional Alliance without leaving their home at The Hawfields. That ground is well worth a visit, and Dan does produce a programme too.

The trouble is that like so many other clubs I develop a soft spot for, I am a jinx! I’ve watched Newhall around 6 times, and a return for them of just one win, away at Desford-based Caterpillar is a poor return by any standards.

And this game simply added to the misery. Newhall fought hard, but were unlucky enough to lose to a substitution! They’d matched Rowsley but when midfielder Billy Lobley limped off, he was replaced by Tim Baker,who changed the game. Baker it transpired had missed over a season with a knee injury but proved that when fit, he was head and shoulders better than anyone else on the pitch.

It took him a mere 6 minutes to make a difference, and in that time Newhall took the lead. Some suicidal Rowsley passing in defence led to a pointless penalty being conceded which James Ward converted with little fuss. But then Baker headed home from an inswinging corner which had left Newhall keeper Simon Baldwin horribly exposed. That was rough on him, he’d just arrived from a twelve-and-a half hour shift in Measham, and after the game was returning to complete another. He looked tired, and Dan commented that if a goalkeeper was meant to be agile and cat-like, then the only cat he resembled was Bagpuss!

For all of Rowsley’s pressure it looked like Newhall would salvage a point, but with a mere 5 minutes left the tired legs betrayed Newhall and Baker’s erudite through ball found Andy Roome and he had the space to fire past Baldwin. It was probably justified on the balance of play, but the manner was rather cruel on Newhall who will undoubtedly play worse this season and win.

I left Dan collating the MRA results for the league (he’s press officer now!) and made my way to my hotel in Matlock Bath. I had illuminated boats to watch, but more on that next time!