Saturday 9th March 2019 ko 13.30
North West Counties League Premier Division
LITHERLAND REMYCA 1 (Foy 44p)
CITY OF LIVERPOOL 2 (Dalton 61 Clair 70)
It really didn’t take long for the coach to pick its way through the Sefton district of Liverpool to Litherland Sports Park. The district has the distinction of appearing in the Domesday Book while Liverpool didn’t! I was pleased it looked busy at the Litherland Sports Park, even if we did have to exit the bus rather quickly to let others in!
It’s fair to say the venue isn’t ideal for football, although a 6 lane running track needn’t preclude a venue for being a quite wonderful place to watch a game try the Olympic Stadium, in Stockholm as a prime example. The problem here is apart from a slightly raised grass back, there is virtually no elevation, and as such the wide open spaces feel bleak, and the distance from you to the pitch is obvious. Perhaps the view to take was that if you’re going to aim to complete visits to all the grounds of the North West Counties League then at least place it as part of a 4-game day.
The other way to look at it was to look at the these next four hop games in exclusion. Remyca, Lower Breck, St Helens and Rylands are all either new to the league, or their grounds are. Scheduling games at these games would always attract more hoppers than at better established grounds, the hobby is based around “Everywhere once” after all, and the proof of the pudding was the volume of 2,000-plus grounds visited groundhoppers we saw at these 4 games.
The club dates from 1959 as St Thomas FC and were based in Seaforth, but soon moved to Moss Lane in Litherland as they forged links with Bootle YMCA and the Rem Social Club (who helped finance them). They adopted the name REMYCA in 1967 as a portmanteau of the two sets of abbreviations. The club moved to Maghull High School in 1976, and moved to Litherland Sports Park in part to return home to Litherland and in part to move to somewhere they could adapt with ground gradings for pyramid football. Remy was elected to the NWCFL in 2014.
It would have course be all to easy to grumble about the facilities, and the club are looking to build a ground of their own. But here’s the significant bit, after a few minutes in the club’s company I stopped looking at what they haven’t got, and started looking at what they had.
The printer was churning out teamsheets, the bottle bar was selling real ales and craft beers by the dozen, and the choice of Chicken Curry or Scouse stew for lunch, was a tough choice. There was an infectious buzz about the place helped by the opposition being City of Liverpool.
There’s is an interesting case. Playing in purple as a mixture of the red of Liverpool and the blue of Everton, they were set up in 2015 to be the only fan-owned non-league club playing within Liverpool’s boundaries. The set-up is very similar to FC United of Manchester but instead of the formation being anti something specific, FCUM’s being the Glazer family’s ownership of Manchester United, here its the more general removal of the game from its working class roots.
Whatever their reasons, they certainly draw a crowd, GroundhopUK have been involved in three 500-plus crowds that I can recall. There was Bridlington on the 2013 hop that drew 1,569, this and Sawtry on the Peterborough & District Hop that drew 534. The first Chris and I don’t take much credit for, it was a case of us adding perhaps a couple of hundred on top of an already bumper crowd, but Sawtry was an incredible afternoon when a tiny club took our ideas and took them into a different dimension.
This I suspect was somewhere between the two, we certainly significantly boosted the attendance, but we certainly weren’t the sole reason for this huge crowd. All credit to Remy for coping with a crowd far in excess of normal, it was always busy, but the queues always kept moving.
The game formed a neat pair with the previous Bootle game. With the title a two-horse race between CoL and Bootle, the visitors here must have seen a win as a means of keeping ahead of their landlords. Foy’s penalty just before half time was certainly enjoyed by the Bootle continent that has followed the coach here, but CoL roared back in the second half. The two goals won them the points but Remy gave them a real scare late on. It was a remarkably good game to watch.
We trooped back aboard the coach, and the talk was on what we’d seen and the hosting. I don’t think anyone had arrived expecting anything much, a game at a municipal athletics stadium was how I think we all framed it. On that basis other than the obvious financial reward I think Remyca’s great achievement here was to change their first time visitors’ view of them. I know some people opted to miss this and the next game and do a “Better” ground. As the coach pulled away heading for Stanley Park I knew they’d missed something worthwhile.