After months of nagging from Joseph Gibbons, I finally caved in and took the trip to Alder House to see his beloved Atherton Collieries.
Despite Northern Rails best attempts to mess the day up completely, I arrived about 15 minutes into the game and immediately found Gibbo behind the goal snapping furiously away on his camera as Colls were attacking a corner. Gibbo was already accompanied by Zach, who I’d met previously at Cheadle Town v Dinamo Bucharest and Rob Clarke, who despite being in the same ground as numerous times we’ve never quite met. We exchanged greetings and I made the all important trip to the food hut for pie, peas & gravy washed down with a nice cold lager. I had planned to use public transport rather than drive so I could enjoy a few beers with the Colls Crazy Gang, and after my troubles with Northern Rail, which included being kicked off the Piccadilly to Salford Crescent train at Oxford Rd as the train could go no further, the beer was very much needed.
Nothing much happened on the field for the remainder of the first half, Colls had a shot which came back off the post and that was about it. So as the HT whistle was blown with the score 0-0, we headed to the media hub where Zach does his HT announcements. Including the winning raffle number and the winner of the Meat draw.
After another pint, a 15 minute recharge of the phone and a discussion on various topics, including Meat, Match programmes and Blackpool FC failing to field a squad of players we returned pitch side and headed to the far end behind the goal Colls would be attacking.
A personal highlight of the second half was seeing Gibbo narrowly missed being hit from a Colls corner, yet not even flinching as he was still snapping away on the camera. A true pro.
At least in this second half we did see some goals. Former Curzon player Andy Heald put Colls 1-0 up with a fantastic strike from just inside the box. Squint hard enough, and in this picture you can just make out, him celebrating with his teammates.
However the lead didn’t last long, Curzon defender Jono Hunt headed powerfully home from a corner to level up at 1-1. There were chances created by both teams as they both looked to find a winner, alas it was the home side who managed to take one of theirs as Matty Boland found himself one on one with Curzon keeper Hakan Burton before slotting the ball past him and into the back of the net to ensure that Colls would win the battle of ‘The Snapchat Friendly’
For those that don’t know, this friendly was organised between Curzon manager John Flanagan whilst in the bath and exchanging snapchats with Joseph Gibbons.
Atherton Collieries 2-1 Curzon Ashton
After the game, of course, back to the clubhouse for another beer. We then caught up with Curzon fans Oliver Newall and Lucas Flanagan before being joined by Aaron Flanagan and Joe Lawton, who despite their Curzon allegiances officiated the fixture superbly. Aaron the referee and Joe as linesman.
I then had the honour of helping to make the Colls weekly lotto draw. No winner so it rolls over. Sorry folks.
Once the players had arrived in the clubhouse, it was my chance to head into the changing rooms and get a good look behind the scenes. Here’s a selection of photos from inside the Colls changing rooms.
Also in the changing rooms were next seasons new NWCFL official match balls. I took the opportunity to quickly take one on to the pitch for a photo.
Back to the clubhouse and Gibbo is busy filling in forms as Colls are currently applying for Chartered Standard status from the FA. We’ll go into that a bit more soon as we talked to secretary Emil Anderson about that in our latest podcast recording.
After a bit more chat and a sneaky peek at Colls new kit which is due to be revealed soon, we got the chance to sit down and chat with Manager Michael Clegg and secretary Emil Anderson. Have a listen to what they had to say about the future of Atherton Collieries here:
All in all a fantastic day out at Alder House and I got to meet the faces behind the scenes who are hoping to get Colls promoted this year. From what I’ve seen and heard I wouldn’t bet against it happening. A friendly club in which I’ll be looking forward to returning to. I’ll leave you with a few more pictures from my day.