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Saturday 5th March 2022 ko 11:00

North West Counties League Division One North

BACUP BOROUGH 6 (Sherriff 7 Mellor 25 45 Hall K Siddle 77 Fallon 90)

ST HELENS TOWN AFC 1 (Korie-Butler 15p)

Clarke sent off 34 (foul & abusive)

Att 460

Entry £5

Programme £2

If Friday’s game at Golcar felt like we were in Northern Counties East then Saturday morning felt we’d crossed over the border into what I’d call traditional North West Counties territory. Bacup lies on the Lancashire side of the tripartite boundary of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester. As the advance party we had the all-important pre-booked programmes and advanced tickets to distribute- not everyone went to the Golcar game.

We travelled through the borough of Rossendale, who could forget the wonders to be found at Dark Lane in Rawtenstall and the sadly defunct Rossendale United, but we soon found Bacup Borough’s ground in Cowtoot Lane. It’s fair to say West View does come with the reputation of being prone to waterlogging and I know they’d postponed their Tuesday night game with half an eye on this game. Again, I pondered the influence of a successful event, would this game have taken place if the anticipated crowd had been 150? 

The glory of Bacup Borough is partly due to its backdrop and that did give everyone issues with getting a massive crowd in. The ground is tucked away in narrow streets, making parking for cars difficult and the hop coach drove up, dropped off its passengers then rather awkwardly had to reverse back down the hill. Robyn, Craig and I formed the advance party to distribute programme packs and troubleshoot where needed, and here we were.

Most clubs on his hop opted, or more accurately tried, to run just one turnstile for all patrons. That I’m sure works adequately for the vast majority of games, but here Colin on the gate was swamped. We managed to open a separate gate for advance ticket holders and after the coach party had passed by us, a gate for those with the correct entry fee in cash . It helped, but there was still a queue outside at kick-off. 

It is a good problem to have though isn’t it? As a general rule on these events I’d certainly recommend early arrival but going forward it is something that will need to be looked at, I want clubs to get fans in quickly and get them buying food, merchandise and so on. But once we got everyone in, what a treat the place is, to the point where it ticks every box I can think of when you list what a groundhopper likes, both in terms of those stands, and that wonderful backdrop. 

The sadness was the predicament visitors St Helens Town find themselves in. The club are rock bottom of the league, and mathematically speaking are already relegated. Now a lot can happen between the games finishing and the League AGM but to make things even worse the side that are top of the Cheshire League are FC St Helens… Sad to say St Helens showed why they’ve struggled this season, Phil Clarke’s dismissal was as disastrous as it was pointless and Bacup rolled in goal after goal.

I hope, perhaps against expectation that St Helens Town will stay in the North West Counties League but this morning unquestionably belonged to Bacup Borough. We may have come close to swamping them but they managed to cope, even if the system did creak at times! The fact of the matter that after the game we picked our way back through narrow streets we did so with Bacup Borough’s reputation enhanced. You can’t ask for much more than that can you?