Thursday 3rd April 7.45 ko
NWCL One (step six)
Ashton Town 2 Daisy Hill 2 ht: 2-1 att: 33
from Edge Green Street
With an off-white blanket of Sahara dust and pollution smothering the UK, I ventured north for some very rare Thursday night football at Ashton Town. Thursday, normally football’s day of rest, is an April necessity this year in the NWCL, due to the backlog of previously waterlogged fixtures. Water again made an attempt to log this fixture for the second time, but the pitch held up well until the end.
Town would complete my set of Ashtons, the four teams from Ashton-under-Lyne and Ashton-in-Makerfield. Town being the lower division brother of Ashton Athletic of the NWCL Premier, from Ashton-in-Makerfield, near Wigan. The other two being Ashton United, of the Evostik Premier and Curzon Ashton, of the Evostik One North, from the Ashton in East Manchester. It’s just a shame Curzon aren’t called Ashton Curzon; which would be a pristine set of Ashtons that could be written thus Ashton (Town + Athletic + United + Curzon). I won’t lose sleep over it, though.
Edge Green Street is not far off the M6, a couple of miles off Junction 23 and through Ashton town centre. The gate and turnstile lies at the bottom of Edge Green Street. It has been used by Ashton Town since 1964, when they took it over from Stubshaw Cross Rovers. The team was founded in 1953 as Makerfield Mill, playing in the Wigan Sunday School League, but the original Ashton Town were formed 50 years before that and played in the Lancashire Combination.
Edge Green Street, or to give it its official new name the AM Property Group Stadium, has a wonderfully ramshackle stand, sat squat and high up on one side. A Brieze block shell, looking like it was put together by someone flinging mortar at it from a distance, supports long-rusted scaffolding holding up a corrugated roof. Five and a lot rows of 13 seats each nestle snugly inside but with no gangways either in the middle or to the side. Most of the red flip-down seats had an air of not being sat on for a while, as if the seat equivalent of rigor mortis had set in; they did not fill one with confidence about their load bearing abilities.
I tentatively pulled one down and starting sitting down on it one stone at a time until it felt like it would hold. Next door is a longer stand with terrace and more of those seats and equally ramshackle.
This was where most of the 33 strong crowd were congregated.
I was meeting my hopping acquaintance Billy Bristow, who I’d seen at a number of different grounds now. I knew he was now the official Ashton Town photographer (his photos are excellent btw), but didn’t realise quite the extent of his involvement with the club. When I got there he was warming up with the lads and casually told me he was now the assistant manager. He played it down by claiming it just involved a few menial tasks…but then took up residence in the home dugouts, where he proceeded to give instruction and encouragement to the team. Quite amusing but great that a non league lover has quickly become so involved in the game.
Neither team was in danger of relegation or promotion. Ashton were lower middle in the table and Daisy Hill a bit lower still. It was, however, a lively encounter and entertaining to boot. The hosts were dominant for 20 minutes and took an early lead, but Daisy Hill slowing started to have belief and get a foothold in, equalising from a slick move and great finish under the keeper. A header off a corner on the stroke of half time gave Ashton the lead again. The second half was end to end with the only goal a Daisy Hill equaliser; a tame low drive (you could say Daisy Hill cutter!) from 20 yards that went through the keeper’s hands. A soft goal but 2-2 a fair scoreline, all things considered.
A regular shout from the visiting keeper when the ball was in flight was Daisy Head bringing back memories of a Dr Seuss character Daisy Head Maisie. A small quirky ground and entertaining game of football, I enjoyed the trip to Edge Green Street on this murky night. Good luck to Billy Bristow, assistant manager and photographer, doing a great job.