Monday, January 03, 2011

A restoration of faith in football

There is a subtle pattern to my flirtation with grass roots, no-frills, non-league football. It's usually at a time when I'm sick to the depths of my stomach with the Greed League and all the nonsense that comes with it.

Take today: the Beckham circus rolls on; the burning sense of entitlement of the supporters of Liverpool Football Club (never just Liverpool, by the way); the Chicken Farmers of Venkys, the owners of Blackburn Rovers, made a claim on Twitter (???) that they were going to bid for Ronaldinho, then denied it to the Lancashire Telegraph (making a fool of a good man they need to get onside), then confirm a bid later on. Add a sprinkling of Lee Bowyer, a touch of Joey Barton and wrap it all up in Mario Balotelli's snood.

What better way to escape this nonsense than a trip 4 miles up the road from Marple to see New Mills play Alsager in the North West Counties League. The previous meeting between the sides had resulted in a 10-2 win to the home side. Today that was the ratio of soft chances missed by both sides as New Mills battered the Alsager goal. In the second half it was particularly one way, but Alsager still fluffed two chances themselves.

It was an open and entertaining game, half a dozen players stood out as really good footballers: Alsager's goalkeeper Paul Willis, their centre half Daniel Gleave, who played a blinder until the last five minutes when he mistimed a challenge to let Steven Moore through on goal. Chris Hirst struck me as an intelligent midfielder, but hopeless in front of goal today. Leon Grandison was capable of a blistering burst of pace and had quick feet.
 This was the 130th ground I've watched football on, and I'm looking forward to chalking off a few more. More than I'm excited about more dross at Ewood. And it cost us all a tenner. It warmed my soul and restored my faith. Even if they did run out of pies. Maybe I should have told them in advance to expect an extra visitor.

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