Date: Wednesday Nov 09 2011
Ground: Valley Road
Comp: North West Counties League (step five)
Match: Flixton 2 Maine Road 0 HT: 0-0
Matthews 73, Smith 90
ATT: 45
Additional: Entrance £5.00, Programme £1.00

Valley Road in pictures
Ground Statistics (marks out of ten, maximum 40)
Character 4, Structures/Terracing 6, Hospitality 6, Backdrop/Scenery or aesthetics for larger stadiums 3
Total 19

More Tuesday night fodder for me, with another sub 40 miler, the like of which I’m fast running out of. It’s only sub 40 if I enter surreptitiously by the A34 through the neck of Manchester, up the oesophagus and throat of the M60, past the tonsils and uvula of Sale and Stretford and out on to the tongue of Urmston, just up from Flixton. It is very near Irlam’s ground, lying the other side of the Manchester Ship Canal.

Valley Road, the road, is very dark (in the sense of lack of light and also maybe in the latter Harry Potter books sense) and sits at the back of  a housing estate, with the canal the  boundary the other side.

Skirting two sides of the dimly lit ground you come to the entrance next to the sizeable and new looking clubhouse. For a pound I was presented with the worst programme you have ever seen – an A4 production 6 sheets long, single sided, stapled together in the middle. A pixelated image of the NWC League badge adorned the front, with no date, fixture or any writing to give a clue as to the evening’s entertainment. Page 2 – history of Flixton, Page 3 – Roster table? – a list of Flixton players, Pages 4,5 & 6 printed directly from Maine Road’s website.

It is difficult to conceive of a worse programme; it was desktop publishing circa 1980, and it sits ugly and conspicuous among my other mostly A5 glossy programmes from this season. Surely there is a Flixton fan that could knock up something better than that?

This bad start kind of set the tone for the evening. The very new looking clubhouse sat at odds with its surroundings. The main stand next to it had seats missing or damaged and as you wend your way round there is the tangible feel of decay and neglect and (not for the first time at a NWCL venue) a large pile of dogshit sat on the thin corrugated-roofed terrace on the far side.

Across from the main stand and clubhouse a huge power pylon is much more at home, looming and buzzing over proceedings with a faintly menacing air. The crowd of 45, most of whom seemed connected to the club in some way, cemented my feeling that this was a dying club. Maine Road, the visitors, is on the same side of Manchester and far from being a derby atmosphere, there was no atmosphere at all. No ‘Songs from a Dying Club’ to be heard, just the faint hum of electricity.

The match-noir was played at a furious pace in the first half, with neither side gaining much advantage. Flixton ended up deserved winners thanks to better approach play and creating more chances.

Maybe it picks up for Saturday games, but I wouldn’t recommend a Tuesday night game here.


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