Saturday, 5 August 2017

Cammell Laird 1907 1 v Maltby Main 4 - FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round

There are people within the game itself, who reckon that the Football Association Cup isn't still the greatest knockout tournament in the whole universe.
Seriously!?
Is it even legal to be that misinformed and terminally stupid?
Obviously, neither of today's teams are going to make it to the later stages of this competition, or even get a sniff of tickets for the final itself, but it is still a massive honour to be involved, even in a peripheral way at such an early stage, in this prestigious national event.
At the rich man's banquet end of football's food chain, winning the trophy probably kept Arsene Wenger in a job last season, so don't even try to tell me that the FA Cup doesn't matter anymore.

Bright eyed and bushy tailed (I've always been a bit of an early bird), I got to the ground early doors and the coach driver was already awaiting our arrival, 'kin ages before we were actually setting off. 
It transpired later in the journey, about halfway across the long and winding (very scenic) road that is the Woodhead Pass, that Steve, our pilot for the day, was actually the stunt driver out of the 'Italian Job' and we were now taking our initiation as fully fledged members of the 'self preservation society'.
We stopped off at Warrington en route and some of the players converged on a health food emporium called Greggs, while others chilled out in the sun and got into the zone in preparation for the game ahead, by partaking in the time honoured Zen Bhuddist techniques favoured by modern footballers, that embrace the principles of having a smoke and perving over the hen party who had stopped off en route to Blackpool for a night of carnage.
I barely slept a wink last night, I was so giddy with anticipation and excitement, because it was the eve of a new football season, with the added bonus of a FA Cup away day in store.
And my euphoria level was heightened when I boarded the jolly boys tour bus to Birkenhead, when my paperwork sidekick at Maltby Main FC: 'Last Minute Larry', or John Mills as some of you might know him as, produced the clubs most recently signed registration form, for me to give a once over.
Wow! There is going to be a lot of interest generated in THE LITTLE CLUB WITH A BIG HEART, when the news that this fellow is heading to Muglet Lane.
Ladies and Gentlemen... Paddy Kenny is in the house!
Paddy Kenny - Republic of Ireland and Maltby Main goalkeeper
After due consideration, I took the decision, that I'd delay posting this overview of the trip to Cammell Laird, until the day after the news was officially made public. It is always prudent never to let the cat out of the bag until after the NCEL have ratified the documentation and confirmed that any signing has been given clearance, just in case there might any other interested parties (and in this case I know of several) who could pounce at the last minute and scupper the deal. It's a massive coup for the club... and then some. Obviously a few people are already in the know and we had a phone call this morning from a gentleman called Neil asking how much it would cost him to watch games at the 'Wembley of the North', whenever Cardiff City have a blank Saturday.
It's been a funny old pre-season at Maltby. And I don't necessarily mean 'funny ha ha' either, but the core values and club DNA are still intact, in fact, if anything they're stronger than ever.
And even though recent events and comings and goings will probably mean that the Miners are a couple of weeks (at least) behind most other teams as regards their preparations for the new season, they'll soon be catch everyone else up, coming through on the rails, at ramming speed, before you know it, and when those outside the club least expect it. 
Quote me on this tub-thumping mission statement any time soon, if you so wish. 
I don't do blind loyalty, or complacency, nor empty rhetoric either, and I am completely rubbish at guesstimating how things will unfold. All I am doing here is dealing in fact.
The narrow streets on the approach to the ground held no fears for 'our Steve' and the double parked locals needn't worry too much, because my mate who works in a garage says that you don't actually need wing mirrors on your car to get it through it's M.O.T. anyway.
It was evident when we got to the ground, what a homely, friendly, accommodating and welcoming host club Cammell Laird 1907 are, as they ushered us into the social club across the road, looking resplendent in our brand new Maltby Main FC scarves that the club had generously gifted to everyone who had travelled to Merseyside on the coach. Yet another excellent initiative on the part of our operations manager and all round top bloke Darrell Johnson.
Maltby Main... new team picture circa 2017-18
As their name suggests, Cammell Laird 1907 FC, who ply their trade in the North West Counties League Division One, were formed one hundred and ten years ago and initially played at nearby Prenton Park.
Note* this is not the same Prenton Park that Tranmere Rovers currently play at, but an enclosure that was originally called Ravenshaws Field, that Rovers (who were originally called Belmont FC) purchased from Tranmere Rugby Club in 1895, before moving to their current location and also naming that Prenton Park. It was Tranmere Rovers that provided 'Lairds' with their first ever opposition on 2nd September 1907. 'The Camels' (a club who have the distinction of having three nicknames, the third one being 'the Shipyarders') lost that inaugural game 1-0.
'Lairds' disbanded for the duration of World War Two but reformed again after the cessation of hostilities.
Fast forward to the 2007–08 season, Cammell Laird, then a Northern Premier League Division One South club, finished as runners up to champions Retford United, but won promotion to the NPL Premier Division when the Badgers were denied promotion when their Cannon Park home failed a ground grading.
Fast forward even further and Retford United's subsequent relegation to the NCEL first division last term, was confirmed mathematically on Saturday April 15th, when they lost 2-1 at Maltby Main, although their fate had already been inevitable for most of the season. Reece Wesley who scored one of the goals for the Miners that day joined Retford United last week, while Jake Ashton who scored the Badgers consolation goal at Muglet Lane was on the bench for Maltby today. And that brings us right up to date, so without further ado...
Saturday 5th August 2017
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Qualifying Round
at Kirklands Stadium, Rock Ferry, Birkenhead
Cammell Laird 1907 (3) 4
Joe Malkin 16, 27
Charlie Maccines 21
Mark Beech 86
Maltby Main (1) 1
Sam Forster 43
Admission £5. Programme £1.50. Attendance 82
For photo gallery from this game click HERE
Cammell Laird 1907:
Richard Cowderoy, Nynan Mason, Jay Thomas, Tom Quinn, Mark Bainbridge (C), Tom Murray (Mark Beech 67), Joe Malkin, Josh Maldon (Lawrence Reilly 78), Charlie McInnes (Greg Drummond 73), Matt Croft, Ben Holmes
Unused subs - Adam Rooney, Callum Kerr, Keiron Hamm
Maltby Main:
Jamie Bailey, Regan Edridge, Liam Flint, Jack Hutchinson (Jack Conley 33), Jordan Edridge, Ollie Lawrence, Josh Hemmingway (C) (Ollie Perry 64), Ryan Smyth, Alex Lill (Danny Parker 58), Steve McDonnell, Sam Forster
Unused subs - Jake Ashton, Liam Johnson, JamesRoebuck
It's nothing to be embarrassed about at all Sam Forster. Scientific
research tells us that any footballer who has to stand still for more
than a few seconds will subconsciously grab at  his genitals.
Maltby's Ryan Smyth got the ball rolling when he kicked off the new season on the stroke of 3pm, and the opening exchanges looked very promising for the visitors.
Alex Lill broke clear through the left channel and squared the ball to Sam Forster whose first time shot was deflected just wide of the upright.
Regan Edridge got onto the end of Steve McDonnell's left wing corner, but Richard Cowderoy did well to tip his dipping header over the bar at full stretch.
McDonnell sought out Lill with his next delivery, who was well placed to open the scoring, but Jay Thomas made a timely interception.
Five minutes in and there was a delay in play, while Liam Flint was patched up after a stray arm had caught him with hefty whack to the forehead, that would need stitching up later.
Having been bandaged in the time honoured Terry Butcher fashion, Flint was called into action twice in quick succession, with defensive duties that inevitably necessitated him make two headed clearances in quick succession. Ouch!
Things began to get heated when Flint reacted angrily to getting caught with a mistimed tackle out on left hand side of the pitch and a few untidy challenges in the centre circle led to Ollie Lawrence being cautioned for pushing away a 'Lairds' player he was unhappy with after taking a knock.
It wasn't a game for the squeamish, with both teams containing a number of players within their ranks who could dish it out (and take a bit of rough and tumble in their stride).
Jamie Bailey in the visitors goal, had already dealt with two lengthy punts into his area, when Joe Malkin got the final touch in an all hands to the pumps scrummage in the visitors six yard box to put the home side ahead.
Crash, bang, effing wallop! 
The roof fell in on Maltby as the home side netted three times in the space of eleven minutes.
Charlie Maccines broke free through the left channel and unleashed a thumping shot from  just inside the 'Miners' goal area that gave Bailey no chance to make a save, in fact a gentleman from South Yorkshire who was stood nearby said: "Paddy ****ing Kenny wouldn't have got to that either!"
Maltby dusted themselves down and tried to regain their composure and McDonnell went close from fifteen yards out.
But straight from the goal kick, the 'Camels' cavalry was on the charge again, this time on the right, from where Malkin's angled shot, that Bailey had covered, took a wicked deflection and looped over the keeper's head.
Lill and McDonnell were proving to be a hand full for the 'Shipyarders' defence as the clock ticked down on the first half, but Cowderey and his defence were just about keeping them in check, while Flint did well at the other end to block Ben Holmes shot on the turn.
Two minutes before the break, Maltby pulled a goal back, when Lill and Lawrence linked up and laid the ball off to Forster, who spanked it into the back of the net from just outside the area.
Game on!? Hmm, possibly not.
McDonnell had the opportunity to peg another goal back in first half stoppage time, but his free kick cleared the 'Camels' goal, as well as their three man wall.
HT: Lairds 3 v Miners 1
A big shout out for Betty, or 'Auntie Betty' as some of the locals called her, who made a cracking rocket fuel strength restorative cup of coffee for me at half time, which was just what I needed, and she was such a sweetheart my that conscience wouldn't allow me to pinch one of those very desirable looking Cammell Laird FC mugs that she was serving refreshments in. 
Thanks Betty!
Yes folks, I have a conscience, who would ever have known it?
Kirklands is overlooked by a bus depot and at half time, Cammell Laird very kindly helped out 'Mersey Travel', by allowing them to park a whole fleet of double deckers across the end of the pitch that Maltby would be attacking (or trying to) after the break, to alleviate the transport company's lack of space in their yard. I told you this lot were "homely, friendly, accommodating and welcoming hosts" earlier, didn't I!?
As the second half got underway, the hosts manager Mick McGraa reminded his players in a booming voice, "Keep at it lads, there is still a lot of football to be played yet", before resuming the 'instructive talk' he had prepared for the match referee and assistant running the line directly next to him. 
The men in black certainly earned their thirty florins and half time Robinson's Barley Water today.
Josh Maldon had an outstanding afternoon for the 'Lairds' and this will have been duly noted for when Cammell Laird, by way of a massive coincidence, roll up at Muglet Lane for a FA Vase tie at the beginning of September, when Maltby will be going flat out to redress today's final outcome.
The 'Miners' plugged away, trying to get back into the game, but increasingly it was looking ever more likely that it would be the home side, if anybody, would add to the scoring. Particularly when Lill had to leave the field of play as a precautionary measure after aggravating the wear and tear he picked up in pre-season, where he had been scoring prolifically.
Holmes cracked an elementary shot across the face of the goal from the right hand side of the area that cleared the left hand upright. Before Bailey tipped a twenty five yard free kick from Maldon over his bar to be on the safe side.
The Maltby keeper then made four decent saves in the space of the next fifteen minutes as the Birkenhead based side looked to kill the game off, while Regan Edridge cleared a goal bound knock off the line.
Tom Murray was another stand out performer for the 'Camels' and it was his strike from twelve yards that led to the final goal that finally killed off Maltby's chances of snatching a draw late in the game, when Bailey did well to get down to his right and push the initial effort away, but Mark Beech was on hand to get to the rebound and slammed the ball into the back of the net.
Initially, a well meaning local informed me that Maldon had scored the goal, but I questioned this when the full time whistle had gone, because on referring to the notes that I'd taken to put the result, scorers and substitutions information into the FA and NCEL, Maldon had been substituted shortly before the goal was scored. 
So I got confirmation from the players as they left the pitch instead and amend my original message. Before we left, at around 6pm, Beech's name was confirmed on Cammell Laird'sTwitter too, which is just as well, because it had already been on the NCEL website for over a hour. Phew!
Lawrence saw his speculative long range shot fly just wide in stoppage time, he never scores from close range y'know! While Beech went close,right at the death, but saw his shot charged down by Flint. I couldn't dispute that the hosts wholly merited their win, but 5-1 would've been stretching a point. And as Mr Alexander Phillips blew for time, Maltby Main were consigned to merely chasing the NCEL Premier Division title, the NCEL League Cup, the FA Vase and the Sheffield & Hallamshire FA Senior Cup, for the remainder of the season. 
Keep the faith! There is a loooong way to go yet.
FT: Cammell Laird 1907 4 v Maltby Main 1
I was offered a lift home at full time, to take me away from Merseyside a whole hour before the coach was leaving. 
Though grateful for the offer, I politely declined, because this was one of those times that we had arrived as a team and should leave together as a team too, apart from those who genuinely had to rush back home for whatever reasons.
Don't get me wrong, once I've in rung the score, I'm usually the first one to burn rubber in the car park before the chippy order for the players after match food as even been placed.
But after the few weeks that the club has just come through, relatively unscathed I might add, a collective, united and defiant front was order of the day. 
#inittogether
Another plus side of staying behind was the Chilli and Rice that our hosts had put on after the game, 'twas a thoroughly enjoyable culinary delight to raise our spirits for the the return leg and next instalment of 'Wacky Races' on the way back over the Pennines. 
I believe the pleasant young lady who served up our tea was called Katie. So thanks Katie.
Everybody we met who was associated with Cammell Laird FC in any capacity, was very friendly and a complete credit to the club. 
In spite of the result... and I really despise losing, this was a club that I really enjoyed my first ever visit to.
(Three) Cheers to all concerned for your generosity and efforts today... hopefully we'll make your visit to Muglet Lane in a few weeks time, just as welcoming and comfortable as you did ours to Kirklands. 
Hopefully another four one home win is on the cards too.
Right then. Whoever it was who kept dropping their guts on the bus coming home and who possibly gave birth to a baby hippopotamus in the solitary toilet on the sixty one seater vehicle at one point, upon inspecting the coach when it got back to the garage, the owners have decided that if you get in touch with them, you can keep the coach, you foul arsed individual!