Curley 5, Russel 84p : Blackwell 24p, Webb 71
from Andrew Street
The Saturday before Christmas and a Saturday afternoon became free for me and the opportunity for a short hop. Short for me now is around the 50 mile mark. Chadderton leapt out as the most convenient; at only 42.1 miles it was my second nearest uncharted club (after Graham Street Prims). With the weather of late a bit damp, the fixtures in the northwest were all falling one by one, around lunchtime. Daisy Hill, West Didsbury, Stockport, Winsford, all fell foul of the weather, but luckily for me Chadderton remained on.
With a population of 35k Chadderton lies in the Metropolitan borough of Oldham, on the river Irk and Rochdale Canal. It lies at the foothill of the pennines. Chadderton FC were founded in 1947 as Millbrow and then North Chadderton Amateurs, before adopting their present name in 1957. They became founder members of the NWCL in 1982. They have played in the Premier Division in the nineties, but were relegated in 1999 due to ground grading requirements.
Chadderton would be 17/19 in this division. I can actually say that, aside from Athletic track grounds I’d completed the division. (Wigan Robin Park and Litherland REMYCA). I didn’t have many expectations of the ground, but was impressed with their main stand. It had a vaguely continental air to it, with its blocky bench seating, rising three steps high. A slab of red painted wood, with white delineation seat marks, some of which had large bites out of it, on top of brieze blocks . Two small walls separate a directors area. The stand continues as a standing area, with its severe brieze block backing.
Andrew Street is central to Chadderton, near the main crossroads of Middleton Road and the A663. It was a drive thru ground, where you do a Harry Redknapp and wind down your windscreen to pay. £5 and £1.50 for the programme. Parking is at your own risk, next to the ground. Andrew Street has a lot of land behind one side and one end, offering opportunities for expansion. The stand side backs on to the busy A663. Paving slabs are prominently in evidence throughout the ground, forming the hard standing, a three step terrace on the stand side and another stretched some way of the other side.
There’s more to it than I was expecting and it has character. It also had a startlingly random open wheelie bin on its side behind one goal.
The match was a great advert for the NWCL. Two teams in the lower mid-table of a step six league, both with little chance of either relegation of promotion played like their lives depended on it, and battled out an entertaining draw. I was looking forward to seeing Chadderton again after seeing their 5-3 win at Darwen in the FA Vase a couple of weeks back.
They had been 3-0 down approaching half time on a frozen pitch, looking dead and buried, put came out 5-3 winners. It was Chadderton who took the lead after just 5 minutes here, with a run and pea roller from 20 yards into the corner. They were the better team for the first 20 but then Litherland had a renaissance and dominated the second quarter, equalising with a penalty.
In the second half it was still REMYCA who looked the likeliest to score. On 71 they had a free kick just inside Chadderton’s half, in the middle. I wasn’t paying much attention as it wasn’t in a place you could shoot on goal. However Webb hoofed it quickly, noticing the Chad keeper a little out from goal. The crowd watched in disbelief, with the keeper pin wheeling backwards the ball snuck in an inch under the bar and an inch over his hands. It was a wonder goal and the away contingent went berserk.
Like they did at Darwen, Chadderton seemed to come to life when they were behind. They got and converted a penalty on 84, to slightly undeservedly gain themselves a point. Nice ground, good programme and great game.