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Saturday 5th March 2022 ko 16.00

North West Counties League Division One North

NELSON 3 (Lloyd 13 47 Foster 28)

CHADDERTON 1  (Dean 87)

Att 351

Entry £5

Programme £2

I’m sure that for many on the North West Counties League hop, the trip to Nelson FC was the most anticipated of the 7 clubs we visited. Part was the club’s illustrious history and part was the evocative backdrop of the terraced cottages with the factory chimney jutting out from behind.

Nelson, are of course a former Football League club, although there’s been a couple of insolvencies since those days. They were elected as founder members of Division Three North in 1921, and stayed until they failed to be re-elected in 1931. A high point was a 1923 tour where they famously became the first English team to beat Real Madrid in Spain!

It is worth noting that the Football League years weren’t at the Victoria Ground, as the Seedhill Ground was lost to the construction of the M65 in 1980. Oddly but most of the site is still visible – it’s on the other side of Carr Road as you turn into Lomeshaye Way towards the new ground, but as we did so I quickly had other things to think about. 

The road was filled beyond capacity, and with cars double parked I wondered how on earth the coach would get down there. The planned parking point for the coach was nowhere to be seen, so I called in a the gate to see what could be done. There was space behind one goal so Plan B was to park the coach there, but someone had parked (illegally) on the corner down to the ground making it impossible to turn down there. In the end the coach dropped off as close as it could and parked well away from the ground. It was handy that the driver wasn’t a football fan. 

Elsewhere a notably friendly club was swamped by the huge crowd. I managed to get advanced ticket holders waved through- that helped to reduce queues, but by the time I turned my attention to the lack of team line-ups posted, I’d been overtaken; thanks Eddie for helping out! The catering like everywhere else was stretched to breaking point, but they did just about cope, and I did enjoy my pie! 

It all got a lot simpler when the game kicked off. Those heroic volunteers were given respite, and Chadderton will wonder what the score would have been if they’d had someone, anyone who could finish off the chances they created. Their officials said as much in hospitality at half time, and to give you an idea of how hard Nelson’s volunteers worked- the only people having a sandwich and a cup of tea were either from the league, GroundhopUK or Chadderton. It really was all hands to the pump.

At least Nelson’s volunteers got a win to celebrate and I’ve no doubt a healthy windfall for their efforts. Eventually the coach managed to pick up and I ducked out in front of it, and headed still further north.