Saturday 14th November 2015 3.00pm
FA Trophy Round Two
Marine 2 Kidsgrove Athletic 2 ht: 0-1 att: 274 Ent: £10 Prog: £2, Coffee £1.40
Nicholas 59, Whyte 69 : Malbon 36, 53
from Marine Travel Arena (pictures here)
I’d wanted to do Marine for a few years and now the opportunity arose to watch my preferred local side for the season, Kidsgrove Athletic, in the second round of the FA Trophy. Marine have an interesting history, dating back to 1894. There are called Marine, rather than Great Crosby, Crosby or Brighton-le-Sands because the businessmen and former students who set the club up met at the Marine hotel on the Mersey seafront at Waterloo. They’re one of a few clubs who have played at their current venue for over 100 years; since 1903. The ground used to be known as Rossett Park, before becoming the Arriva Stadium and more recently the Marine Travel Arena
They’re a Guinness world record holder for the world’s longest serving
manager – Roly Harris managed 1,975 matches between 1972 and 2005, winning 30 trophies along the way; making world history with his 33 year tenure. Makes Dario Grady look flighty
Marine have also never been relegated in their 121 year history; although last season it looked like the run had come to an end with their 21st place finish, but they got a reprieve to stay in Evostik’s top flight. Coincidentally, their opponents Kidsgrove Athletic also claim to have never been relegated and likeMarine, finished in the relegation places in the Northern Premier One South last season; but they too were reprieved.
The Marine Travel Arena sits on College Road in Brighton-le-Sands, just south of Crosby rail station, about 8 miles north of Liverpool and just north of Bootle. There is a close triangle of pyramid teams in the area in Marine, Bootle and Litherland REMYCA.
The ground was not at all what I was expecting. I had an idea in my mind of an expansive traditional ground like Ashton United’s Hurst Cross. Instead it was an unusual and quite quirky, compact ground. It was three sided but not for the stock reason of it being next to the cricket ground, but because one side backed immediately onto the back gardens of houses on Rossett Road. So much so, that access to this side was not possible for fans. The dugouts were only reached across the pitch. I wondered at how this feature had met ground grading regulations.
The opposite side of the ground was almost as narrow, this time with it being hemmed in by houses on Jubilee Road. A thin strip of terrace ran the length with an equally willowy stand covering half of it. Just two people standing wide, it backed onto a high wall.
Behind the far goal was a very orderly and segregated six step terrace, little used on this miserable rainy afternoon, unsurprisingly.
Behind the goal as you come in is their main stand, a 389 seater, looking relatively huge within the narrow footprint. A five step terrace lay in front of this stand and to the side.
It was a miserable Saturday, rather like every day so far in November and all those to follow. The rain was light but relentless; the Marine staff did a great job to get the game on. A large contingent had come up from North Staffs to follow the underdogs, who play at step four (the lowest level the FA Trophy goes down to). Kidsgrove had been playing well in the league of late; there was positivity about causing an upset at higher league opposition.
Marine dominated the first half, creating lots of chances and maybe weakening the belief amongst the away fans of an upset. However, Marine didn’t convert their chances and nine minutes from the break a rare through ball found Malbon in space, on the left, for the Grove. He controlled it, and despite a defender harrying him on the edge of the Marine box, he clipped a shot across the keeper and into the goal. 0-1. It was undeserved on balance of play but a great psychological boost before half time.
In the second half Kidsgrove doubled their lead. On the left of goal, Malbon crossed the ball in to Johnson in the middle, who while not getting on the end of it, confused the goalie enough for him to only half-catch the cross and fumble into his own net. Bizarrely it was 0-2 in a game the home side should really have been winning comfortably.
There was a quick reaction though. Just six minutes later Nicholas scored a header from a corner – slack defending. With still 21 minutes left to play Whyte hammered in a shot from 20 yards into the bottom corner. For the last 20 minutes the score was more likely to be 3-2 than 2-3, although Kidsgrove should really have scored a winner when they missed a sitter in the last minute.
Despite losing a two goal lead it was a good result for Kidsgrove and an entertaining game. I liked the ground, the way it was nestled so tightly in amongst houses. With the crowd so close it makes for good atmospheres. It claims to have a capacity of 3,150 but I struggle to imagine how that many could fit in. Marine went on to win the replay but were then knocked out at home to Burscough in round three.