One Year On

"Hi! I'm not Troy McLure - I'm SJNR. You won't remember me from such films as The President's Neck is Missing and episodes of The Simpsons from back when the show wasn't a joke free shell, but from 12 month old blog postings where I state I'll be putting up new content very soon and on regular-ish basis after that."

I know, I know. As opening paragraphs to blog postings go, even on a site like this where the quality threshold is already staggeringly low, it's far from brilliant; if it had the use of a telescope mediocre would still be a dot on a distant horizon in front of it.  The fact it's there instead of something else though (and trust me, there was an awful lot of awful something elses there before it) may give you an idea of how difficult this thing has been to write.

You probably won't believe me but when I wrote the statement at the end of last year saying new stuff was on its way to the blog my intentions were utterly sincere.

2013 is/was the 10th anniversary of Mossley80 existing in one form or another on the internet and while I normally hate the marking of the passing of time (birthdays, New Year, etc.) I wanted to do something for the website.  Why?  Even though I'm not much of a sentimentalist I do like the site and hate that circumstances have left it to wither and die in the way it has over the past couple of years or so.

My aim was to try and correct that neglect.  Pieces were started and some came close to almost being finished. The groundwork was done for other bits and bobs that would have led to a steady stream of content over a series of weeks and months. The site was redesigned and a plan for going forward with a relatively football-free (for the foreseeable future anyway) Mossley80 was in place.  So, what happened you may ask? The answer is, life did.

Twelve months ago I wrote that 2013 was shaping up to be a bad year and while that was written partly in jest a bad year did come to pass. No, scratch that, it was much, much worse.  No details will be expounded on here but with everything that has happened the blog, football and other things too numerous to mention have been the furthest things from my mind.

There's an argument to be had that throwing myself back into the things I did for fun (Mossley80, football, etc.) could have helped alleviate some of the overwhelming gloom a little.  However, being the type of person who is not very good at compartmentalising their life it's highly likely that all I'd be successful in doing would be allowing that darkness to seep into things that should be light.

So what of the site now? Well, being someone who doesn't believe that things can suddenly change for the better because a large number on the calendar increases by a single digit I'm not going to make any promises for 2014.  There may or may not be some content on here over the course of the next 365 days that doesn't consist me explaining why the site has been so quiet. I just don't know.

What I can say with some degree of certainty though is that I'm determined to try and shake the metaphorical pitch black cloud that's been hovering overhead for a good length of time now. It's not going to be easy and to be honest I don't rate my chances of success that much but it's the first step - even if it is a shaky one - in something approaching the right direction I've attempted for a while.  That may bring about the catalyst needed to spring this site into life once more. It's just a question of wait and see.

If things don't get better then in all likelihood it will just fade away.  Some may take pleasure in its passing.  The majority though will remain as indifferent to it as they were while it was in its perceived heyday; barely giving it a second thought as it vanishes quietly into nothingness.*

Not for the first time on Mossley80 a short message seems to have gone on a lot longer than I'd originally intended.  If for some inexplicable reason you're still reading at this point after all the doom and gloom above, I'd like to thank you for doing so and wish you a Happy New Year.  The law of averages say someone has got to have one so why not you? :)


* This paragraph is available free of charge to be cut and pasted into any articles about Droylsden FC in the upcoming months.**

** See! I can still do football!

Breaking The Silence

You don't have to possess the observational skills of a native American tracker to have noticed that some time has passed between this sentence and the one previous to it was posted on the blog you're reading now.  Quite a considerable bit of time in fact.  471 days to be especially precise.

Why has it been so long? Well, that's a question which doesn't really have a short answer but I'm going to keep it as brief as possible by listing the two main reasons why it has been so quiet around these parts.

First of all I haven't seen Mossley play since their win over Osset Albion back in September of 2011, the topic of my last posting one year, three months and two weeks ago. Actually that's not strictly true. I did see a small number of games around the turn of the year but a mixture of both apathy and the fact that most of them weren't worth putting finger to keyboard for (a goalless draw with Clitheroe being a particularly low, low point) meant you didn't read about them on here.  That of course leads to the question as to why I haven't seen the club I've supported for over three decades play for almost twelve months, to which the answer is: circumstance.

On a personal level last year was bad.  This year was worse and the way things are going at the moment it's highly likely that I'll have to resort to looking in a thesaurus to come up with a suitable adjective to describe 2013.  One of the consequences of this current predicament is the 'financial pinch' and something had to give.  The something in my case was football.  I'd like to say it was a tough decision to make but the truth is it wasn't. When it comes down to priorities in life, unless you make your livelihood from the sport, football is much closer to the bottom than the top of the list.

And that's why this blog has been in hibernation for the time it has.  When you run a website about watching football it's hard to produce content when you don't see any at all.  There are a few other things, mainly to do with the game itself, which had an effect on my decision to move the importance of attending football matches down a few levels in my life but as I'm going to stick to my intention for once to keep a posting brief, they can wait for another day to be explained.  Besides, compared to the reasons outlined in the previous two paragraphs they're tiny almost to the point of microscopic.

Anyway Mossley seem to be doing rather well in my absence and in case there's a correlation between my non-attendance and the club sitting four points clear at the top of the Evo-Stik NPL First Division North table, as they are at the time of writing, I'm probably doing more good staying away than turning up and possibly jinxing their season.

So until there's a change for the better in my circumstances my appearances at Seel Park are going to be hovering between none and irregular (most likely the former of the two) for the foreseeable future.  This does mean that new match reports aren't going to be showing up on Mossley80 for a good while longer yet.

However, as I hate the fact that I've neglected this little part of my life for so long I will at some point in the new year be updating it on a regular-ish basis again.  In lieu of my ramblings about the Lilywhites ongoing trials and triumphs on home soil though other subjects will be covered.  It might be football, it might be something else.  It might even be football and something else; the decision on what form the content will take changes regularly but the options are slowly being narrowed down.  All I know is that whatever appears here is likely to be as long-winded and as objectionable to some as my take on matches were but I also hope it's a readable and half-decent diversion at the same time.

Until we meet again then on here in the not-quite-so-far yet not-quite-so-immediate future, I'll end by wishing you all a Happy New Year as we pass inexorably into 2013.

Mossley 6 - 2 Ossett Albion

Your eyes do not deceive you. The scoreline that makes up the heading to this post is correct. It may have taken a month but Mossley have finally registered their first win of the season and did so in (what the unwritten law of UK football match reporting compels me to label as) emphatic fashion.

Just as one bad result isn't a portent for months of doom, gloom and despair, one good result isn't a sign of a renaissance. I've no doubt whatsoever that this is probably going to sound like I'm being picky or purposefully negative but all the good things about Mossley's performance in this game are balanced out by the poor quality of their opponents. And I'm being generous in labelling them poor.

In Ossett's defence (and the only defence that can be associated with Ossett in regards to this game) they are in the midst of an injury crisis which has left them without the services of nine regular starters. However, as the cliché goes you can only beat what's in front of you and the Lilywhites beat what was in front of them well, one or two scares aside.

I do have more thoughts about this game jotted down on a piece of paper but as the week has gone on the will to arrange them into a cohesive structure has been slowly sapped by other events. So instead of presenting you with some musings about formations, tactics and an elephant that has appeared in the room, I'm just going to finish with some video footage of all six of Mossley's goals; a change of plan which some of you will no doubt believe to be a bit of a blessing:



Runcorn Linnets 4 - 0 Mossley

To put it simply:
If there's a Mossley fan around who was surprised about this result then good luck in finding them. The 4-0 score line might have taken a few people aback but the defeat to a mid table NWCFL side was expected; it was as non-shocking as cup shocks are ever likely to get. There's a report on the Runcorn site here if you want the details on Mossley's capitulation to a side from a lower division but as you can imagine it doesn't make for anything other than grim reading.

Bottom of the league, out of the FA Cup, an increasing number regulars missing from the terraces and we're barely into the second week of September: can the season get any worse than this?

That was a rhetorical question by the way.

Mossley 0 - 0 Runcorn Linnets

If I was to write the report this match deserved you'd have finished reading it by now. In fact there'd have been nothing to read apart from the heading - just six or seven inches of white space. It started, it stopped and in the ninety minutes in between little of any consequence happened. The supposed magic of the FA Cup was certainly not with this game.

Runcorn had the better of the opening 22 and a half minutes, which included a couple of vociferous appeals for a penalty, while Mossley were on top for the remainder of the first period but only had a Cavell Coo shot directly at Linnet's keeper Richie Mottram to show for efforts. The teams then left the field for the break, came back on again and proceeded to cancel one another out for three quarters of an hour.

Oops! Sorry, there were a couple of moments worth mentioning. Kayde Coppin hit the post when one of his free-kicks took a huge deflection of a Runcorn defender and Martin Pearson produced a fantastic save that the referee did the huge disservice by failing to recognise it and awarding a goal kick instead. The less said about one incident in the second half though when a series of increasingly ridiculous passes across the Lilywhites back line allowed a Runcorn player clean through on goal, the better. Thankfully for Mossley the Linnets player who was the beneficiary of this generosity skewed his shot so far wide of the target that the goalkeeper didn't even have to attempt a save. And therein lies the reason why this game has gone to a replay: neither sides possession of an attack worthy of the noun.

In Mossley's case this didn't come as much of a surprise once the team line-ups were announced and it was revealed that we'd be starting the match with a centre half playing as a centre forward. The first week of September and we're already struggling to find round pegs to fit into round holes. Happily the visitors to Seel Park were just as woeful in front of goal and that's why there is at least some good news: we didn't lose! If that doesn't sate your appetite for reasons to be cheerful about, how about the fact we weren't overwhelmed and looked more than a match for an eighth placed team in the North West Counties League, which does bode well for next season.

Things You Thought You'd Never See Again

#1: Mossley topping a table

Okay, it's not the club and rather the town itself but in these thin times we can but dream. In case you're wondering the image is from the BBC quiz Pointless and yes, I'm well aware of the humour that can be had in the marrying of Mossley and the show's title.

Mossley 0 - 4 Curzon Ashton

I don't know about you but even though August isn't yet a footnote in the annals of history, I think it may already be time to write off Mossley's title chances for this season. And possibly our play-off hopes too.

I'm not going to go into any great detail about the mechanics of the match, primarily because I wasn't there. I had the option of attending the game or an early evening out with friends; it had to be one or the other. In times gone past I almost certainly would have opted for the football but in these days of financial austerity I don't want to use what painfully little disposable income I have on paying to watch something akin to a slow motion car crash, which is what Mossley's last home match was and what their latest one threatened to be. As the evening with friends had the promise of some enjoyment it was that I opted for as the 'e' word is something that hasn't been synonymous with the Lilywhites for a while now. Unless of course you're a supporter of the opposition. And lo and behold if it wasn't the visiting Curzon fans who got the most bang for their buck in the latest instalment of the Lilywhites 2011/12 relegation push. (Before anyone gets on their high horse, of course I'm being facetious when I say relegation push. For the time being at least anyway)

Curzon's 16 man squad contained 11 players who have worn the Lilywhites shirt, many of whom as recently as last season. The departure of these players to our near neighbours in the summer brought numerous jilted lover-esque cries from some supporters of "they weren't very good anyway" and that their replacements were so much better. It wasn't for as simple a reason as that they wanted to play for a manager who they'd enjoyed playing under before or that they wanted a change of scenery. Oh no, they were "mercenaries." Which begs the question as to whether the supporters who believe this think their replacements didn't have to leave a club to join us; that we're the only club who source our players from a pool of Corinthian spirited idealists. Anyhoo, the fixture meant it was an early chance to put those claims to the test: were the ex-Lilywhites rubbish and the new Lilywhites a lot better? A glimpse at the score line answers that question.

While I didn't watch the game in the flesh I did manage to watch it via Twitter for an hour via the various tweetings from the neutrals and not-so-neutrals in attendance and none of it made for happy reading. In the hour before kick-off I began to get this weird feeling that Mossley would upset the apple cart but when @aaronflan posted the team line-ups prior to the start of the match it disappeared. A whippet-like centre forward in the shape of Kristian Dennis up against the far from whippet-like central defensive pairing Mossley were starting with was only going to lead to one thing if the former was up for the match and sure enough, at four minutes past three the first of a succession of tweets popped up on my time line to say that Dennis had put Curzon a goal ahead having beaten his marker for speed. Eight minutes later news of his second strike of the afternoon came through along with some far from glowing appraisals of Mossley's performance.

Eventually it came time to head off to my preferred destination of the day and while stood at the bus stop I heard a cheer roll down from the hill which Seel Park sits atop of. In a rare outbreak of optimism I headed to Twitter on my phone to see if Mossley had embarked on a comeback. Nope. The noise I'd heard had been to greet Kristian Dennis's hat-trick. Seven minutes (and still no bus) later there was another eruption. That late on in the game it's unlikely a Mossley goal would have elicited such a reaction and sure enough it had heralded Curzon's fourth, scored by another ex-Lilywhite Michael Fish.

The 4-0 result (a second successive defeat at home by the same scoreline) meant that Curzon moved to the top of the table on goal difference and Mossley slipped, or rather fell with a bump, to the bottom of the Evo-Stik First Division North by virtue of having fewer points than everybody else. And so after six games of the new campaign the Lilywhites sit 21 places and 16 points below their Bank Holiday opponents who, lest we forget, comprise of players who aren't good enough for us according to some. Maybe it's just me but at the moment I'm not getting any sense of progress being made, especially as we look like heading into a risky FA Cup fixture against an unbeaten side from a lower division with only one centre forward at the club. Lengthy paragraphs about these issues though are for another, rainy day.

As for me I did have an enjoyable evening, not that any of you are asking. I ended up seeing the new Conan the Barbarian film and while it's not the greatest film ever made there are far worse ways of spending 90 minutes, naming no examples. There was plenty of killing in it too so I did eventually end up seeing one massacre on the day and paid less than £8 for the privilege too.

Skelmersdale United 3 - 1 Mossley

There's not really much to say about this game other than that we've managed to get our annual defeat at Skelmersdale out of the way much earlier in the season than we usually do. It's normally a cold night in March or April when we turn up at Stormy Corner and get a pasting but this year we got the opportunity to help Skem's goal difference while enjoying a bit of sun too.

Or at least I'm going to assume it was sunny. It could well have been bucketing it down and blowing a force ten gale for all I know. What I do know for a fact though is that for the first time since the home side moved to their new ground, Mossley managed to get through ninety minutes there without conceding four or more goals which makes it the first genuine positive of the season! Huzzah!

It's surprising just how much joy there is to be had in these infinitesimally small moments in football when your hopes for a season are virtually non-existent. All we have to do now is beat Curzon at home for once and the 2011/12 season, whether we're relegated or not, can be claimed a success on some level.

Back to this game though and for a short period of time the unlikely looked achievable: a win at Skelmersdale. A goal from Tom Ingham on the cusp of the break gave the Lilywhites the lead at the half way point but the hopes of gaining three points at one of our bogey grounds started to slip away early in the second period. Rob McIntosh and Paul Woolcott put the home side ahead within five minutes of the restart and Shaun Tuck administered the match winning blow 13 minutes from time. From the few accounts of the supporters who went to Skelmersdale, Mossley didn't play that badly but as crumbs of comfort go (even taking into account our opponents and that it's still August) it's still the tiniest of tiny morsels.

Speaking of Curzon, as I was some paragraphs ago, they're up next for Mossley. We're only two weeks into a new season and they're already 13 points ahead of us. Not bad for a team consisting in the main of last seasons Lilywhites squad; players whom some of our supporters said weren't any good when they left the club in the summer. Unfortunately I'm not going to be at Seel Park to see if the players we have now are (as claimed by some) better than those they replaced so I'm afraid there's going to be an in-depth review of our Bank Holiday game on here. I'm sure there will however be something to write about it, even if it's only "Yay!" or "Oh no!" Not sure what to do if it ends up a draw though.

AFC Fylde 2 - 2 Mossley

It was from the ridiculous to the almost-but-not-quite sublime for Mossley as they followed up their weak surrender to a slightly better than average Woodley side with a point at one of the title favourites, AFC Fylde.

Not that anyone should really be surprised that we managed to avoid defeat against The Coasters as that's what we've done in every match we've ever played against them. For want of a better term we are their bogey side and despite our less than auspicious start to the season that will continue to be the case until March at the earliest. If you want to be amazed about something to do with this result then its that after managing only one half decent shot on target in the previous 180 minutes of football, the visitors actually held a two goal lead just after the midway point of the game.

What followed the second goal has been described as the Alamo as Fylde laid siege to the Lilywhites net but that's the wrong analogy seeing as the defending side in that particular historical instance lost. This was a score draw so Rourke's Drift is probably a more fitting parallel. Or at least it is if equating important historical events, in which countless lives were lost, to ultimately meaningless sporting contests can in any way ever be described as fitting. I digress though so to get back to the topic in hand I'll point you towards the Mossley report on proceedings and Fylde's take on what happened.

So after being the bogey side we're off to Skelmersdale to face one of the many, many teams who hold a similar hoodoo over us. On our past four visits to Stormy Corner we've conceded a total of 18 goals and received a string of red cards so the chances of this being a dull 0-0 are pretty much slim to non-existent.

Cue the dull, goalless draw.

Mossley 1 - 4 Woodley Sports

I really don't know where to start or what to do with this blog entry. Actually the start is easy: this was one of the most abject Mossley performances I've seen for a good number of years. It's what to follow it with that's the problem.

On the one hand I don't want to be overly critical, especially after my last posting in which I said it was too early in the season to do such a thing. On the other though it's impossible not to be when you've just witnessed a display that doesn't scream off day but that we have a huge bleeping problems. However, if I was to do the latter and go through all the things that were wrong, or even if I just listed half of the problems that were in evidence over the course of this spell of ninety minutes, I'd be writing practically non-stop for a week. It was that bad. Or it was if you were a Mossley fan. If you were a Woodley supporter then you'd probably just seen your side pick up the easiest three points they'll get all season.

With the employment of some more composed finishing prior to it, Woodley's opener could easily have been the goal that put the seal on the win for the visitors. Of course it's not unusual for a side to have missed enough chances to have won a game before they finally find the back of the net for the first time but I doubt there are many who've done this with only eight minutes of a game having elapsed. The term one-sided was invented for matches like this and how Woodley failed to capitalise on their dominance is beyond me. Actually it isn't; they didn't get the goals they deserved because their forwards were next to useless in front of the net. It meant that for the majority of the match the simple pass-and-go move up the pitch which ripped through Mossley's paper thin resistance, and finished off by Jordan Stepien, was the only thing that separated the two sides. Well that and the the visitors superior level of fitness, their work rate and their decision to field a midfield to name but three of many other things.

Against any other team they'd have probably been made to pay for their wastefulness but happily for them they were facing Mossley. In the seven minutes prior to Stepien's strike and for a significant time after it the only time the Lilywhites entered their opponents half was to chase down the mortar-like passes from the back that formed the majority of their attacking tactics. It took a while but the home side did eventually realise that kicking the ball along the ground to a team mate was slightly more beneficial than lumping it in the general direction of their head. Alas, while it saw them enjoy a bit more possession, it didn't lead to a solitary shot in anger that forced visiting keeper Liam Higginbotham into taking action to preserve his sides lead.

With time in the game running out a shift in formation saw Mossley move to a three man back line. I assume this was to enable more men to move forward in search of a late equaliser but the difference it made to Mossley's attacking fortunes was the square root of zero. Woodley's attacking fortunes however benefited enormously. With even more gaps at the back to exploit they finally started to give the match a more realistic looking scoreline. In the space of five minutes a one goal lead became four and could easily have been six if the post and a terrible finish hadn't come to the home sides rescue.

If the score had stayed 1-0 to Woodley it would have flattered us immensely and I'm sure that in some quarters it would have been seen and spun as a half decent result too. However, while you can pull the wool over the eyes of people who didn't see what happened and have them believe late goals skewed the scoreline or whatever, the reality is that those who saw the game know that even with a 4-0 defeat the home team got off lightly and that against a good side, rather than a half-decent one, it could have been a massacre.

I did say though that I wasn't going to go into full-on critical mode this early into the campaign so instead of picking at the bones (the bare, meat free bones) of this performance just end with this: Three games, one point, one meaningful shot on target in 180 minutes of football at Seel Park, a lack of shape and ideas and the body language of some players already suggests they want to be anywhere else but here. Oh yes, Mossley's season is well underway.

Mossley 1 - 1 Witton Albion

After four months of waiting (not a second of which, personally speaking, was in eager anticipation) the new football season arrived at Seel Park and it came and went with little in the way of occurence for the match to take up anything more than a fleeting residence in the memories of those who saw it. It was, for want of a better description, an atypical end of season match, only eight months too soon.

That's not to say there weren't some things worthy of commenting on amongst the vast tracts of incident free stretches the game mostly consisted of. Mossley themselves diplayed a high level of energy but much of it was expelled in a wasteful manner as runs went unseen, passes went astray and promising situations came to a sudden halt; problems which meant that the high percentage share of possession the home side enjoyed throughout the match was largely uncapitalised on. Take the first half for example, all the Lilywhites had to show for their efforts was a high and wide shot from Joe Heap, and that only came after the youngster had been put clean through on the Witton goal by a spectacularly ill-advised backpass from the halfway line by an Albion midfielder.

The visitors themselves had hardly set the game alight but they went in at the break with a one goal lead which could possibly have been two if the referee hadn't waved away their appeals for what looked like a nailed-on penalty late on in the half. The one goal they had to their name came in the 25th minute and was the first (and as it turned out, only) shot on target in the opening forty five minutes. For Mossley supporters the manner in which it came had a horrible familiarity to it: a cross to an unmarked player at the far post, a pull back to an equally unattended team mate and shot placed beyond the reach of the goalkeeper. Albion's Danny Andrews applying the finishing touch on this particular occasion.

Without word of a lie, so little of interest was happening on the pitch midway
through the second half that the clouds above Seel Park instigated more
conversation on the terraces around me than the match did.

The second half began with the hope of a more dangerous looking home side on the pitch as substitute Tom Murray stabbed a good cross wide from close range but it soon dissipated as Mossley struggled once more to make a presence felt in the attacking third of the pitch. Not that the visitors were troubling the scoreline either. With the amount of time wasting going on, especially by goalkeeper Matthew Cooper, it looked like Witton had settled for a win by a solitary goal but for one brief moment they sprang into a modicum of life and came close to putting the game beyond Mossley's reach. Lilywhites centre half Peter Band was forced into making a goal line clearance to stop Alex Titchiner from doubling the visitors lead and a minute later the home defence could only watch as Liam Newman hammered a shot off the Mossley crossbar.

It took until the 70th minute for Mossley to manage their first shot on target, another three minutes for them to manage their second and a further nine for them to register an effort that could be termed meaningful. And it's this one which drew them level. A mazy run down the right wing by Kayde Coppin looked to have reached a conclusion as defenders converged around him but the former Flixton player somehow dug out an inch perfect cross that found the head of Harry Noon who in turn found the back of the net. As well as rescuing a point for Mossley it gave the match a scoreline which reflected it better. Not because both sides had cancelled one another out but because neither had done enough to win a game that was hardly going to entice any first time terrace occupiers in to making a return visit.

You can't be critical of a new team playing only their second competitive match (not even I'm that much of a grouchy curmudgeon) so I'm not going to detail the numerous 'facepalm' moments which were repeated throughout the course of the game. They are things which can be eradicated with time and hopefully the ironing out of these kinks will mean I never ever get round to mentioning them on here. I know, at times I'm just too optimistic.

I should probably end on a positive so I'll say that the Lilywhites second half performance was a bit better than the one in the preceding period. It wasn't the massive improvement as some have claimed elsewhere on the internet (unless the first half was even worse than I recall) but being slightly more impressive is better than nothing. The question is will it continue? As ever time will tell, even if history isn't exactly on Mossley's side.


Osset Town 2 - 1 Mossley

You should always start as you mean to go on which is why coverage of the 2011/12 season on this blog begins with a badly written and uninteresting report on a match I didn't and had no inclination to witness. In other words it is business as usual on Mossley80.

And not only am I starting the new season in the manner in which I finished the last one, so are the team as, just as they did at the end of April, they conceded two goals on their travels and failed to score an equal or greater amount in response. Or to put it more succinctly: they lost. Rather than coming off second best in Lancaster as they did three and a half months ago the new look Lilywhites fell to a defeat at the equally new look (and newly relegated) Osset Town.

This time around though the visitors did manage to score and that goal came courtesy of Scott Hogan, a last minute loan signing brought in from FC Halifax Town to beef up the threat posed by our attack; the lack of which in pre-season being something a number of people have commented on so it's good to see that has been addressed, albeit temporarily while a more permanent solution to the problem is sought.

A fuller report on what happened at Ingfield is available here but various comments made by those who travelled eastwards to Osset suggest that it wasn't a game to whet the appetite for what's to come over the ensuing months. You can't however predict the outcome of a season on the basis of one match so there's no point in being anything other than ambivalent about the possible fortunes of the team for a while yet. Well, at least up until the second game anyway.

Pre-Season 2011/12: Week Three & Four

As the new Evo-Stik League season is, at the time of writing, only a matter of a few hours away I should probably get round to bringing this blog up to speed with what happened in the summer's four 'pretend' games that haven't previously had a mention. Don't worry! It's not going to be as long as you think.

The first half of the second half of Mossley's pre-season kickabouts turned out to be what we can classify as a good week as the Lilywhites hit a vein of consistency, following up their one goal victory over Cheadle Town by registering similarly margined wins over opposition from both higher and lower levels in the pyramid.

The midweek game saw Mossley continue their impressive run of results against Hyde in pre-season matches and register their first victory at Seel Park against a side managed by Gary Lowe for eight years. By all accounts this was the Lilywhites best performance of the friendlies so far which, meaningless game or not, is heart cockle warming. Only one report on the match exists so head to Mossleyweb to read it.

Three days later Mossley ventured to the land of the pie eaters for their first ever game against North West Counties League Division One team Wigan Robin Park. It needed a late goal 18 minutes from time to give the visitors the win but a win none the less. Again Mossleyweb has details on what transpired while the official Robins' site has photographs.

If that week was good the fourth and final one of Mossley's pre-season campaign wasn't quite so much, getting under way as it did with a strong Mossley side coming off second best in a 1-0 defeat at Abbey Hey, another NWCFL Division One side. From the numerous comments made on various parts of the internet it was a thoroughly deserved win for the team from two leagues below but instead of providing you with a lengthy list of links to where those musings on the game are, I'm just going to point you towards the match report that's here, the photo's that are here and embed the video that the home side produced on the match... here:


The build-up to the new season concluded with a trip to Leicestershire to face Shepshed Dynamo, the only one of our opponents in the friendlies to play at the same level as Mossley. For the second game running (and the fourth time in pre-season) Mossley couldn't find the back of the net but happily for the day-trippers to Butthole Lane neither could Shepshed. If you want more information than that on what happened then you're bang out of luck I'm afraid as nothing more about exists about it on the internet than a scoreline and a team sheet.

So when everything is tallied up it's four wins, four defeats and one draw from the Lilywhites summer fixture list. There have been reasons to be optimistic about the forthcoming campaign and some to make you feel the opposite way. Which of the two ends up having been the correct barometer of what's to come will be known over the course of the next eight and a bit months.

Pre-Season 2011/12: Week Two

The opening week of Mossley's pre-season campaign was something of a mixed bag results wise (a big defeat, a big win and a narrow defeat to a big team) and it's a theme that carried over to the matches played in the seven days that followed.

For the week's first game our near neighbours from the division above, Ashton United, made the short journey over the hill to compete for the Willow Wood Hospice Cup; a competition that we have a pretty decent record in. Or we used to until this match.

Not having seen the game I can't pretend to offer some kind of insight into why the Lilywhites lost 4-0 at home to a side playing their first game since April. The general consensus of those who did see it though is that we played some nice stuff up until we reached the final third of the pitch. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that old Mossley favourite of struggling to get a sighting of an opponents goal, never mind a shot at one, could be back for it's umpteenth consecutive season. Still, it's nothing that can't be rectified and maybe this is the year which it will be. History dictates however that it probably wouldn't be wise to hold one's breath in anticipation unless a purple/blue skin complexion is the 'in' thing this year.

Could we be in for a promising season though if this perennial Mossley problem is finally solved? Possibly. But looking at it from another angle, the fact we conceded four goals while fielding what on paper appears to be our strongest possible line-up at the moment (especially in terms of the defence) suggests that there may be an entirely different elephant in the room too. There's no point in worrying just yet though as this is the part of the year set aside for ironing out such wrinkles. As the mantra goes, results don't mean a thing in friendlies, it's all about improving fitness and performance. Hopefully we're getting fit.

Should you wish to read better accounts of this game then I'd visit Mossleyweb, SixTameSides and the Ashton United website. Although in which order you choose to do so is entirely up to you.

Four days after relinquishing their grip on the Willow Wood Hospice Cup, Mossley found themselves in the suburbs of Stockport to take on NWCFL Division One side Cheadle Town. And it was back to winning ways too as a late goal from Danny Egan was enough to see the visitors claim a 2-1 victory at the Park Road Stadium. It seems to have been a close game as well judging by the reports on Mossleyweb, the Cheadle Town fanzine and the latter's Twitter feed as the match progressed.

I can't really add anything more to that other than to emit a small 'yay!' at the victory. Not that I'd normally cheer wins in such meaningless matches, it's just that I haven't had chance to do it much since January and I need to get some practice in. You know, just in case come August.

Pre-Season 2011/12: Week One

Covering last years pre-season games on the very blog you're reading now was a bit of a problem. With choosing to give the matches a very wide berth, finding something to write about them other than to just provide links to the views of those who did was a touch on the difficult side. For this reason I decided that things had to change this year and they have.

No, I haven't done the obvious thing and decided to grace any of the matches with my presence. I've found a much easier (and cheaper) way to do things. Rather than reporting on the friendlies on a game-by-game basis I've decided to do it week-by-week. The content will be the same, i.e. not worth reading, but it will hopefully take up far less of your valuable time to look at before you realise that it really wasn't worth reading.

And now that the preamble is out of the way it's on to the meat of the post or rather the tofu given that what follows is a poor substitute for the real thing you'll find on other sites.

The phoney war got under way with Blue Square North new boys FC Halifax Town making the short trip down the A672 to take on Gareth McClelland's new look Lilywhites side (or last seasons New Mills team if you take in to account the number of signings we've made from them over the course of the summer). When you factor in that the match involved what's basically still a team of strangers facing off against a relatively settled championship winning side from two divisions higher there was really only ever going to be one outcome and so it proved; the visitors making the trip back across the Pennines with a 5-1 victory to show for their afternoon's efforts. The plus for Mossley is that their solitary goal courtesy of Joe Heap was according to reports the best of the six scored during the game.

Ah yes, the reports. They're here and here for the Mossley point of view and here and here for the oppositions take on matters. The last one takes time out to impart some very kind and much appreciated words about this blog and in doing so provides me with a tag line for it when I finally get round to finishing re-jigging it. Current E.T.A. of Mossley80 v3.0? Goodness knows! It has already been 13 months in the making and still not even halfway done. But little do you care about my lethargic attempts to apply the heart paddles to this site. What you want are more links to far better reads than this and the second friendly game will provide these.

After Halifax the next club to take up a presence in the away changing rooms was Oldham Athletic who, in something of a novelty for a Football League team playing a friendly at Seel Park, sent a reasonably strong side containing a fair old smattering of first team players. The reason for them doing so was in honour of Mossley's residence at their current home reaching the 100 year mark. I was going to say playing instead of residence but there are a number of years in the mid-80's and early 90's where they didn't do much of that. Hopefully Oldham will be able to send their first team again in a few years time when we celebrate two decades of the pitch at Seel Park actually being the right size to hold a game of association football on.

Anyway, the match. Far from the being the walkover you may have expected (a professional side playing against a team of amateurs from five levels lower that have barely just met one another) the game finished with the visitors claiming a narrow 1-0 victory. The report in the Oldham Advertiser claims that it was a comfortable victory for the full-timers but that's a conclusion not borne out by the official Oldham website's match updates which suggests that Mossley could have registered a slightly more positive result in the last ten minutes. It's also a summation that's at odds with the report on Mossleyweb and the opinions of supporters who saw the game. But then the Advertiser is from the MEN stable of newspapers and one thing we've learnt in recent years about reports in the MEN involving Mossley (who can forget their hysterically bad Stalin-like airbrushing of events after our win over their then pet favourites FCUB) is that they may not bear a resemblance to what actually happened.

The third and final game of the opening week of friendly matches saw a Macclesfield Town XI make the trip to Seel Park; 'XI' as we all know being football code for a team comprising of players who should probably be revising for exams or finishing off homework instead of kicking a ball around on the edges of the Pennines. Young or experienced players though, and as much as I'd like to avoid using this particular football cliché, you can only beat what's in front of you and Mossley did so by six unanswered goals, and not without a fair old smattering of young people in their own line-up. I believe 'emphatic' is the adjective of choice for a victory like this one which you can read about on the official Mossley site.

So after a less than auspicious start against Halifax Mossley appear to be finding their feet a little which, while good, still means nought at this stage of the year. Friendlies may be necessary but they are ultimately pointless as anything other than a slightly more intensive fitness workout; they are as a guide to an upcoming season what horoscopes are to accurately predicting the future. Except with slightly fewer gullible followers.

Next up on the site: Pre-season friendlies 2011/10 - Week 2. I bet you can wait. Which sadly, going off my current blog work rate, is something you'll almost certainly have to do.