Atherton Town FC – Howe Bridge Sports Centre

A bit of a different blog this weekend. I had planned on watching Atherton Town play at some stage, but I didn’t expect my visit to come quite so soon. With the trip being unexpected, and the fact the level of football is 10 promotions away from the Premier League, I can’t really do a full blog on it. So it’s just going to be a brief description, and a few photos!

There had been much anticipation ahead of Oldham Boro v Atherton Collieries, due to the fact Oldham Boro are groundsharing at Atherton for the 2012-2013 season. A bumper crowd was expected at Alder Street, but despite a referee passing the game as fit, it was called off at 14:00. The referee, with his match fee and petrol money pocketed, then buggered off, leaving everybody furious.

Myself and Josh Harris (Colls goalkeeper) really didn’t want to go home just yet. We had a quick look on the internet to see if Atherton Laburnum Rovers were at home, but unfortunately they weren’t. Josh then tried to find out whether Atherton Town were at home. We thought they were, but we weren’t sure. So in a desperate attempt to watch some football, we headed down the road to Howe Bridge to see if their match had survived the weather.

I had a feeling it would survive the weather, as I used to play on the pitch myself when I used to play in the Atherton Town setup before I had to retire at the age of 15. It was an emotional send off, with the town of Atherton turning out in numbers to say goodbye to their favourite Centre Back. It was hard returning, but it was all in the aim of watching football.

Josh parked the car up at the rear of Howe Bridge Sports Centre, and we opened the doors, waiting to hear a whistle, or a shout of some kind to symbolise that there was a match being played. We couldn’t hear anything. However, Josh is a goalkeeper, so his height allowed him to look over the fence to see that the match was on. Brilliant!

We had missed the first 25 minutes as it was a 14:00 kick off, but not to worry. We had only missed two goals.

There was only one team in the match really, and quite how the game only finished 5-1 I will never know. The Atherton striker scored a hat trick, but only after missing numerous opportunities.

Having never seen a match played at this level before, I found some of the things quite amusing. For example, at this level, only a referee is required to turn up to the match. He then sources two volunteers to run the lines, you know, just like on a Sunday morning when you’re playing as an U11? In the first half they had the Atherton Town coach, and a Chadderton player running the lines. This became a bit of a problem though for the second half when the Chadderton player was brought on a substitute. This meant the remainder of the match was played with just the one linesman.

The match threatened to boil over at times. Especially when the young lad from Chadderton (who had chickened out of every challenge) squared up to the Atherton Town midfielder. It was quite embarrassing really, and I think both players should give their heads a wobble.

The rain began to fall on Howe Bridge, and the light began to fade. The match finished, and that leaves Atherton Town joint second in the Manchester Division 1, with neighbours Pennington. Chadderton Reserves on the other hand are left in 11th place after that poor performance, and I can’t see them making a dash for the Premier League any time soon.

  • PIE: N/A
Back in my Atherton Town days. Third from the left, bottom row.
Back in my Atherton Town days. Third from the left, bottom row.
Injury prone, but still alright.
Injury prone, but still alright.
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Changing Rooms
Atherton Town - Howe Bridge
Atherton Town – Howe Bridge
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Match Action
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Player as linesman
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Atherton Town Centre
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Howe Bridge Church
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Match action

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