I had missed last seaons trip to Holker as I was stuck inside helping my Dad decorate my bedroom. I’d like to think that Colls are strong promotion contenders once again this season; as a result we may not be in the same division as Holker next season, making it difficult to tick the ground off my list.
We had all agreed to meet at Colls at 10:30 for a prompt departure. I arrived to see some of the players gathered in their usual away day perch on the kerb outside the Alder House turnstiles.
The usual last minute questions were soon asked in a frantic manner. You know the ones: Who has overslept? Does our top striker have a hangover after having one too many in Wigan last night? Did our centre back Kieran Halliwell continue with his emerging social problem of a late night coffee in Tyldesley? Kieran insists that this isn’t a problem, and it is merely down to his sophisticated lifestyle.
As those questions were being asked, Alder House was being prepared for the days match between Oldham Boro and Leek CSOB. The nets had been put up and the place had been cleaned. All jobs were ticked off just as the days transport arrived. It was a small, cramped bus from Wigan. It soon clicked that every single decent bus in Wigan would be going down to Wembley as Wigan Athletic competed in The Community Shield.
I chucked the blue away kit into the back of the bus. If we had any kit missing, it was my fault. We were set to go.
As we left Atherton, the coach was struggling to get up the hill. We were off to the Lake District. How on Earth were we going to cope?
We needn’t have worried though. Wigan Pete had it all under control.
“Good morning everybody! I’m Pete, your driver for today. Wear your seat belts. If the police stop us, you can pay your own fine. I’ve been driving for over thirty years, and I’ve never had an emergency. If we do though, the emergency exit is situated at the back. Don’t open the door. It’s not a toy”
Good morning to you too Pete.
By this stage, Charlie Stoker who was sat next to the emergency exit looked mortified. What if he bounced out of the bus close to Lancaster and we never saw him again? Obviously it’d be an inconvenience for the club in the short term, but we always have Andy Walker who could fill in for him. Speaking of Andy Walker, where is he these days? Nobody has seen the Colls stalwart since he voluntarily substituted himself at LR when he had what can only be described as “the shits”.
The journey progressed and we soon began to question whether Wigan Pete actually knew where he was going. Our adventure took us through Lancaster and within touching distance of Morecambe. Surely we weren’t going to be sent on a boat across Morecambe Bay? I really did hope that Pete had life jackets and buoyancy aids at the ready!
Fortunately we were soon on track again and on the road to Barrow. Roadworks brought us to a brief standstill, but our destination was now within touching distance. If only we had a tour guide to pass some time. That’s where summer signing Mark Truffas comes into use. He was kind enough to provide us with a sporadic commentary of sights we could see out of the window. My personal highlight was when he pointed out a statue of Laurel and Hardy in Ulverston town centre. I’d like to think of Truffas as the Brendan Sheerin (the bloke off Coach Trip) of the situation.
Wigan Steve had his foot firmly planted when going up a steep hill off a main road. We were travelling next to a golf course when we caught a glimpse of a floodlight. We had finally made it! It had taken two hours. The arduous journey had taken its toll on a few of our players who appeared to be travel sick. What do you expect if you’re constantly on your phone whilst travelling?
I think it’s fair to say that we had arrived at Rakesmoor a bit too early. I would have imagined that the Holker players were still tucked up in bed. Although, I don’t know how you can sleep around that area; the cows weren’t half making a racket!
I was feeling a bit edgey. It’s a well known fact that I have a phobia of cattle. Bovinophobia I believe they call it. So, on a day when we were surrounded by cattle fields, what did I decide to wear? That’s right. I decided to pull on my fluorescent orange Bolton Wanderers away shirt – or neon salmon as The Reebok faithful have labelled it.
The clubhouse was a large one and had a fully stocked bar. People weren’t however convinced by the drinks that were on offer. Apparently the beer just didn’t quite taste right. If there’s one set of fans who know what beer should taste like, it’s the Colls fans.
I wasn’t chancing being ill for the upcoming week, so I played it safe and bought a Kopparberg which was a little pricey.
Enjoying my drink, oblivious to the world around me I was once again reminded what a daft colour I had opted to wear. The image of a cow just kept playing through my mind. I could see the North West Evening Mail’s main news headline for the following day: “Brightly coloured inebriated teen trampled in Non-League horror”. On the plus side though, it’d be something to blog about!
The home side arrived in dribs and drabs, as did the matchday programmes. Frankly, it was a poor effort, but as we say at Colls – “Any programme is better than no programme at this level!”
I noticed that there was another match taking place on a neighbouring pitch, so I went for a wander. It appeared to be a Holker Old Boys reserve side up against another team wearing the famous black and white stripes.
Colls were top of the league having won both of their league games to date. We had scored nine goals and had been awarded five penalties. Surely we weren’t going to be handed another against Holker?
The two sides emerged through what appeared to be a supermarket trolley park. Colls were in their brand new blue away kit, which was designed by myself and club chairman Paul. The players all seem to like it, even Josh Peet. To be honest, he probably likes it as it looks like it has been painted on to him. He looks more ripped than Brad Cooke, which probably isn’t that hard in fairness.
Within a minute of the match kicking off, Colls had been awarded their sixth penalty in just three matches. Surely a record of some sort? Gaz Peet was fouled in the area, before brushing himself down and placing the ball on the penalty spot.
Peet stepped up, and fired the ball into the bottom left hand corner. Oliver Bell in the Holker goal pulled off a fine save and parried the ball away from goal. The ball however, fell straight to Mark Truffas who knocked the ball into the goal from a couple yards out with a diving header.
The visitors were dominating at this stage as wave after wave of attack reigned down on the Holker goal. Credit has to go to the OB’s defenders and goalkeeper who were equal to everything thrown at them.
Despite all of the home sides hard work at the back, Colls deservedly regained the lead on 26 minutes. A precision pass from full back Rob Swanton fed Paul Atherton behind the Holker defence. Atherton outpaced his marker and surged forward, ending up one on one with the goalkeeper. A composed finish into the bottom left hand corner was the result.
Half time would usually allow visiting fans to sample some local delicacies and enjoy a pint. Now, again, I wasn’t chancing a pint, and there wasn’t any food on offer. A bit disappointing with us all making the long journey up there.
Fortunately some of us were invited into the hospitality room for the interval alongside some other members of the Colls party. Safe to say I enjoyed my sandwiches, sausage rolls and unlimited cups of tea. Thanks for that Holker! You made a hormonal teenage boy a little bit happier!
Sitting by the entrance to the clubhouse, we could hear the scraping of boots and clapping from within the changing rooms which suggested it was time for action to resume. It really was a game of two halves. Colls were admittedly poor in the second half, but having said that, Holker were superb.
For the opening 25 minutes, Holker had total possession and dominated proceedings.
An equaliser came on 70 minutes when Jamie Pattinson shot beautifully into the top left hand corner from 25 yards out. Colls goalkeeper Joe Brobbin didn’t have much to do in the second half, but when he did, it was to pick the ball out of his own net.
From then on, it was all Colls. The goal had finally woken them up. Despite fantastic efforts from Charlie Stoker and Gaz Peet, they just couldn’t find the winner.
Overall, it was a fair result. It was an entertaining game, and it was great to see Holker playing some fantastic football.
The clubhouse was rammed after the match, with every single player and supporter staying behind for something to eat and drink. I was getting the usual abuse off Brad Cooke who always finds it highly amusing when I eat a multitude of sandwiches post match. Apparently that is why I have a fat arse. Cheers Brad!
It was time to leave Rakesmoor for the long journey home. I of course took a few sandwiches for the journey home, what else was I going to do to entertain myself? The players were treated with some crates of beer between themselves. Centre back Chris Lawton kept supplying me with cans from his perch on the back seat. I still can’t decide whether he was being nice or whether he was trying to groom me.
A couple of hours later we were back in Atherton. Over a pint we reflected upon the day as a whole. It had been a nice day out in a beautiful part of the world. It’s a shame that Colls didn’t claim all three points, but all credit to Holker who will take a lot of points off teams at home this season. I’m not in a rush to make an immediate trip back to Rakesmoor, but I’ll be back there again at some stage in years to come.
- DISTANCE TRAVELLED TO GROUND: 86.4 miles
- ADMISSION: Not too sure… it was included in my travel cost
- PROGRAMME PRICE: £1
- PIE: N/A