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Saturday 4th March 2023 ko 13:00

North-West Counties League Division One South


MAINE ROAD 1 (Keyworth 68)

Livesey (gk) sent off 13 (foul & abusive)

Att 303

Entry £6

Programme £1

For Saturday’s second game we headed to Stoke-on-Trent, for what was, for me at least, the most surprising visit on the hop. I’d visited Whitcombe Road back in 2010 when the club were still just Foley FC for a Staffordshire County League game. The ground was just as basic as it gets, albeit with a wonderful vista of Stoke from behind the near goal. I just couldn’t imagine that the club could get the place fit for pyramid football. I am wrong on occasion…. just ask my wife Robyn!

Here’s my photos from May 2010 when Foley drew 1-1 with Congleton Vale.

The ground is accessed through the back of Whitcombe Road, a cul-de-sac, and boy did that create an issue. The club’s idea was to park the coach in a little driveway just off the cul-de-sac but that proved to be rather a tight squeeze! But once we got everyone in, you saw what a good club Foley Meir are.

They’ve added both “Meir” and a new stand since I visited all those years ago. That stand was a godsend, as the cold weather threatened a shower or two. Elsewhere I felt sorry for the club- they’d obviously thought long and intelligently about how they were going to host but were swamped by the sheer volume of hoppers. The issue was the size of the clubhouse, you simply couldn’t fit enough people in at a time, but there on the wall were the plans for the clubhouse extension.

You have to love a club like this, no kit stands, no short cuts, doing it all self-funded. Did you spot the quirk of the door to the ladies’ loo? Have you ever used a convenience with a letter box? Or the painted “Foley” logo above the clubhouse door, with the Meir artfully added later. Half the fun of this place is the exploring!

Sadly, Foley Meir are in a similar relegation battle to Rocester but at least here, their destiny is just about in their own hands. This game didn’t help them, though even though they were given a distinct advantage. Opponents Maine Road saw their keeper Ryan Livesey sent off early on. There was a tussle with saw he and Foley’s Jayden Shepherd booked. But Livesey had clearly lost the plot completely, and refused to give his name to the referee, and so was sent off in a stream of expletives. To make things worse Maine Road had no keeper on the bench, so player-manager Rees Welsh took the gloves, shirt and even the socks. It did take a little organising!

What followed was a fairly dull slog with Foley trying to attack, but not testing the stand-in keeper enough, and Maine Road looking to hit on the break. We looked like we were heading for a nil-nil draw which might just have suited Maine Road, but a home error saw the visitors nick a goal and try as they might, and believe me they did try, they couldn’t force an equaliser.

I suspect that is their season in microcosm, which makes a potential relegation tragic. You see all that’s happening off the pitch to improve the place, and that is all there to help keep them at this level. On that level at the very least I hope they do stay up.