Mossley 3 - 1 Ramsbottom United

Well this is a refreshing novelty – reporting on a win in a cup match.

Prior to this meeting with Ramsbottom United it had been almost two years since Mossley had last won a game in any knock-out competition. And not wishing to run the risk of setting my pants on fire with untruths, I've got to say that at half-time in this FA Cup tie it seriously looked like a statistic that we would be carrying into our FA Trophy fixture against Stocksbridge in October.

Not only were the Lilywhites North West Counties League opponents one-up at the interval, they'd had enough opportunities, if taken, to have made the second half nothing more than a formality.

Both sides had cancelled one another out in the initial stages of the game but as Mossley started to labour against a well regimented defence, the visitors, mainly through the tireless running of the impressive Andrew Sensale, slowly began to poke holes in the home sides back line. Despite the numerous half-chances they created it was still something of a surprise when they took the lead through James Morley in the 29th minute.

It was a goal though that almost opened the proverbial floodgates. Mossley survived a very good claim for a penalty when United's Joshua Hill was felled in the area and Liam Higginbotham did well to push a goal bound effort from the same player onto the post and out of play. Mossley hearts were in mouths as well from the resultant corner when Dawson rose above Graham Kay to head the ball just over the crossbar.

There was a sense of relief around Seel Park when Mossley managed to reach half-time only one goal down but whatever was said in the Lilywhites dressing room had an obvious and immediate effect, transforming the fixture into one of those clich├ęd 'game of two halves'.

Within sixty seconds of the restart Mossley had done more to threaten United's goal than they had in the previous forty five minutes. Lee Blackshaw had been instrumental in fashioning these early chances and it was through his free-kick in the 50th minute that the home side levelled; the Mossley number eleven swinging the ball through a crowded penalty area and past a static Middlehurst between the Ramsbottom posts.

The goal that edged Mossley ahead arrived not long after and was the result of some neat football between Leon Henry and Danny Egan. The latter applying the finishing touch by smashing it beyond the reach of Middlehurst while half of the Ramsbottom defence stood appealing for an offside that was never ever going to be given.

Unlike the preceding forty five minutes Ramsbottom were getting no joy whatsoever from a side that emerged after the break looking far more organised than had previously been. The big difference between the two halves, at least to me anyway, was that we started to keep things relatively simple. Instead of trying to open up Rammy with some overly elaborate play, the passing became shorter and to feet and pulled the visitors out of their well drilled defensive formation as they attempted to retrieve possession. This gave us gaps to exploit which the midfield did with some surging runs that caused the visitors no end of problems.

Evidence of which is in the goal that sealed Mossley's place in the First Qualifying Round with twenty minutes of the game remaining. It came through Michael Fish chasing down what looked to all intents and purposes like a lost cause, harrying of the visitor's defence into making a series of mistakes which he himself was on hand to punish by rolling the Lilywhites third into an open net.

There were more opportunities for Mossley to put further distance between themselves and their opponents in the remainder of the match, but a heavier defeat would have been unfair on a Ramsbottom side who almost certainly left the field wondering what might have been had they taken their chances in the first half.

So in conclusion: a good performance (at least after the application of jump leads at half-time to get us going), nice weather, £1500 worth of prize money and another FA Cup match in a couple of weeks. Not a bad afternoon at all.

And if you think that the brevity of this report is another refreshing and delightfully welcome novelty then i) I'm deeply hurt and ii) you haven't factored in the four minutes it will take to the watch the highlights from this game. Enjoy it because one of these days I'm going to miss some of, if not all, the goals:

One more thing before I finish though.

Referee's and their assistants often get roundly criticised for their officiating of matches (much of it undeserved) but the man in the middle for this match and, particularly, one of his beflagged (if it's a new word I'm taking full credit) helpers deserve a round of applause for both signalling for assistance and allowing the Mossley medical team to cut across the pitch in order to get to a supporter who collapsed during the first half.

A round of applause that also extends to all those others who came to his assistance as well!

Bottoms Up

Its that time of the year again when semi-pro clubs are patronisingly deemed to be dreaming of Wembley when in fact their ambitions are no greater than claiming the wodge of money on offer for the winners of the round they're in and, possibly, a match against a team that has a home gate of more than 300.

Some maybe even dream of playing Mossley and the lucky recipients of that particular honour this year are Ramsbottom United, who beat Hallam at their Riverside Ground less than a fortnight ago to do so.

United's last visit to Seel Park was in the final game of the 2003/04 season, which coincidentally was also our last ever game in the North West Counties League. That match ended in disappointing 2-2 draw which made Clitheroe's hopes of winning the league title a week later slightly easier, requiring them only to draw their final game at Nantwich rather than win it.

The Lilywhites have played Ramsbottom three times in cup competitions and, in a fate tempting statement, have won them all. The first two were in the gone and long forgotten NWCL Floodlit Trophy, while the third was in the FA Vase during the 02/03 season; the latter being a victory that set in motion a run to the quarter-finals along with the now legendary meeting with Lymington along the way.

Our opponents got off to a fantastic start to this campaign winning three matches in the opening week, including the aforementioned match with Hallam. Since then though they've hit a bit of a slump and go into the the tie having lost their last two matches to both Glossop and Congleton. We on the other hand go into the game on the back of two wins but as we all know, particularly those who spent that cold Monday night at Chadderton last season, that means nothing in cup competitions.

Keep your fingers crossed that one of £1500 cheques the FA will be writing out on Thursday will have our name on it.

Harrogate Railway Athletic 1 - 2 Mossley

Or to be more exact:

Curzon Ashton 1 - 1 Lancaster City

Last season it took Mossley until their final away game of the season to register their first win in matches played on the eastern side of the Pennines. This year they've done it on their first attempt.

The only other point the Lilywhites picked up on their travels over t'moors was at Harrogate Railway Athletic; a side who took a further six off us on top of that one, making them our joint top bogey side in the league last season. Their hopes of retaining that title for another year however took a severe denting after Mossley won their first ever game at the Athletic's Station View ground.

Anyone wanting more information on the game other than we won 2 - 1 with a goal in injury time, are advised to look here as I wasn't at the game to see Mossley make it three wins out of four.

Instead I was at the Tameside Stadium to witness Curzon Ashton's first home game of the current campaign.

Curzon probably just about shaded the first half though we're talking in margins only measurable by a micrometer here. Lancaster took the lead early in the second half and would have been heading home with a win had it not been for their inability to kill the game off despite being given numerous opportunities to do so and a fluke equaliser from the home side with nine minutes left. The strong wind that blows across the Moss claiming another assist in carrying a hopeful cross over a goalkeeper and into the net.

I would go into more detail but the game was so poor that no finer points actually exist. Unlike the video I posted for Mossley's game against Warrington in which I had to make some tough decisions as to what to leave out, the highlights reel for this game contains every single thing of note that happened.

Like all football fans I'm no stranger to occasional exaggeration but I can honestly say with a level head and a hand on heart that this Curzon side currently looks a shadow of the one from the past few seasons. Curzon fans will of course point out that the enforced absence through suspension of Michael Norton has done them no favours but the results and performances without him does little to counter many peoples claims that they're a one man team.

The few points of interest in the game were provided by the City fans, the first being that Lancaster fans have found room in a song of teams they hate for Stalybridge Celtic. The second is that they really, really don't like Simon Clifford; 'hate' is not a strong enough term to describe some of the chants about him. Thirdly, "S-H-R I-M-P, Sammy McIlroy's got VD," while probably not being factually correct, is decidedly catchy. The chant that is, not the STD.

No matter what the standard of the game was though the final result was a good one for Mossley, allowing the Lilywhites to put some distance between themselves and two sides who at the start the season were expected to finish above us.

How long will the good form continue? I've no idea but like everyone else who has sat and stood through the last two long, long years of watching Mossley, I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts.

Mossley 4 - 1 Warrington Town

What a difference four days, nicer weather, a change in formation and a more positive approach to scoring makes.

Eighty nine and a half little hours which saw Mossley transform from a team that was a distant second best in their defeat to Radcliffe, to the one that had left Stalybridge and Hyde fans resorting to grumbles that "results don't matter at this stgae" after being beaten on their pre-season visits to Seel Park.

The talking point amongst the home supporters prior to the match was which Mossley team would turn up for the kick-off and happily for all concerned it was the one that spanked Clitheroe's bottoms in their own back garden.

If Mossley had any nerves going into this match following the reversal against Radcliffe four days earlier, they were undoubtedly banished with the opening goal of the game in the eighth minute; Dave Hanlon slotting the ball between Warrington keeper Ritchie Mottram and his near post to notch up his first goal in a Lilywhites shirt.

The home sides position in the game improved one hundred percent when Michael Fish added a bit of breathing space to the scoreline sixteen minutes later. On this occasion Hanlon was the provider, his cross finding the head of Fish who in turn put the ball beyond Mottram from close range.

To be perfectly honest these were the only two incidents of any note in the first half hour of the game. The final fifteen minutes of the opening period though saw Mossley step up a couple of gears and fashion enough chances to have won the match a couple of times over.

Despite threatening to run rampant though Mossley only managed to add one more goal to their tally before the whistle signalling and end to the first half blew. Once again it came through another close range header from Fish, the Lilywhites leading scorer beating team mate Lee Blackshaw in the race to get on the end of Danny Dignan's excellent right wing cross.

Not only did it give the home side what at that point seemed like (and ultimately proved) an unassailable lead, it also had the happy side effect of silencing the very annoying drum brought along by one of the visiting fans.

Now I'm all for atmosphere at football matches, and frankly if one place needs it it's Seel Park, but banging a drum isn't it. As a letter writer to today's Non-League Paper points out, why do it? Are they so insecure that they need to try and make themselves the centre of attention (“Look at me, I'm a character”) because the one thing it doesn't do is drive a team on? Instead of inspiring the team or crowd all it does is give people daydreams of using the drummers noggin to bang either it or the terraces with. Thereby giving them a headache instead of the rest of us.

And while I'm on the subject, maybe its just me but do these drummers always seem smug to you? Like they think they're the only people to have mastered something that most of us have been able to do since we were at least six months old.

Anyway, after that little rant it's back to the match.

After what I suspect was a half-time team talk containing words that would make even Mossley supporters blush, Warrington emerged from the changing room l looking a completely different side from the one that had entered it shell shocked. Straight from the restart they put their hosts on the back foot and a goal six minutes in from substitute Billy Webb only galvanised their efforts even more as the Lilywhites struggled to rediscover their first-half form and the drummer started his incessant banging again.

And if it hadn't for some inaccurate finishing, particularly from Carl Rendell, it's possible they could have surpassed the comeback they'd produced against Bamber Bridge days earlier when they drew 3 - 3 after being 3 - 1 down.

From the hour mark on though Mossley slowly began to reassert their control on the game, nullifying whatever threat Warrington still posed and turning their own goal scoring opportunities from a trickle into a steady stream once more.

Any wind left in Warrington's sails was finally knocked out of them in the 77th minute. As with the third goal Dignan was again the provider but the beneficiary of his inch perfect cross this time was Danny Egan. The former Macclesfield player, a second half substitute for the injured Fish, diverting the ball home in the six yard box with an outstretched leg.

Mossley had chances to make the victory an even more convincing one in the closing stages of the game. However the final 4 – 1 score line more than adequately conveys the superiority of the Lilywhites over their guests on the day and it's a result that, at this admittedly very early stage of the season, moves them into third place in the table.

While the move to a standard 4-4-2 formation and setting our stall out further up the pitch certainly played their parts in Mossley's improved showing, another important factor was, as one of the Bus Shelter Standers rightly pointed out, Warrington not continually closing us down in the manner Radcliffe had done. It gave the Lilywhites room to play and play they did; some of the passing and movement off the ball was superb and all four goals were well worked and well finished. Kudos to all associated with this performance.

A six point haul from the first three games of the season is probably more than what many Mossley supporters would have realistically been expecting given the fact we had a brand new side but I don't think any will be complaining.

And finally, well penultimately, to all those supporters who asked me when was the last time Mossley scored three goals in the first half of a game: it was in March when the Lilywhites won their first game of 2008 against Chorley and not, like many thought, in the dim and distant past, even if it does feel like it.

That's it for the reading (if indeed you have bothered to read the above) and now it's time for the watching. Hopefully it will get a few more views than the one for the Radcliffe match:

Arr! What Is It Good For?

Well for one thing, it stops Warrington Town and Harrogate Railway Athletic being known as Wington Town and Hogate Railway Athletic respectively.

And by a sheer stroke of coincidence these are the two teams Mossley will face over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

First up are the men from Junction 9 of the M62. Following a season in the First Division South, Warrington have been bumped sideways (or, geographically speaking, upwards) into the Northern Division, giving a whole host of other clubs the opportunity to experience the joys of a trip to Cantilever Park at least once over the course of the next eight and a half months.

According to Wikipedia, which automatically makes what follows possibly only 30% true, Warrington have four nicknames: Town, Yellows, Wire and Warriors - one for every supporter.

Only kidding Warringtonians if you're reading this. I know from past experience how touchy you can be, as do many other Mossley supporters who remember being lambasted by a Town fan on the old Mossley message board for not drinking enough in their club house at a night match.

The first week of the new season has been a rather fruitful one for the men from the banks of the Ship Canal. An opening day win against Salford was followed by a midweek draw against Bamber Bridge, Town rescuing the game after being 3 - 1 down at one point. Hopefully Mossley will complete the WLD set for them by sending them back home with a defeat. History is on Mossley's side in this respect as Warrington haven't won at Seel Park for fifteen years, and in the six games played in that time (W5, D1) we've scored 17 times to their six.

Monday will see Mossley hopefully have a better time of it in Harrogate than on their last visit to North Yorkshire. Back in January the Lilywhites used up a few years worth of good luck just to lose by the one goal in three, when three could, and should, have been the square root of Railway’s winning margin. All in all it was a thoroughly miserable day that was made worse for by long delays on the train journey home.

While their Station View ground isn’t the best in the world I’m not going to poke fun at its slope, it's bleak surroundings or, frankly, anything else to do with Athletic as any club were an official praises a match report that I did can do no wrong by me*.

And that is why the preview for this match is so short - nothing at all to do with any preposterous suggestion that because I’m on holiday I can’t be bothered.

Okay, well maybe a little.

*Yes, I can be bought that easily. Worth bearing in mind if you desperately want something overlooked in a review or a match report.

Mossley 0 - 2 Radcliffe Borough

In recent seasons I've become aware of two little things that indicate that the football season must have started again.

The first clue is a home match that looks as though it's being played beneath the world's biggest power shower, while the second is that I feel an air of depression slowly descending.

As most of you are fully aware by now I'm a glass half-empty kind of person but even I was surprised at how soon I emitted my first weary sigh of the season. It was around the midway point of the first half when Michael Fish was expected to get on the end of a huge punt up field played by somebody stood ten yards behind him on the halfway line.

Still, it wouldn't be football if there wasn't an early pin prick of reality to burst the bubble of optimism you've desperately been trying to blow up for months.

Initially it had looked like Mossley would carry on from where they'd left off at Shawbridge three days earlier when, two minutes into the game, Michael Fish dropped a looping shot onto the roof of the net. The home side ended the half brightly too with Fish bringing a smart save out of Radcliffe keeper Greg Hall from a similar position on the edge of the box and a corner being headed just over the cross bar from Nick Boothby.

Unfortunately though the 41 minutes between these two incidents were almost exclusively confined to the Mossley half of the pitch. In no small part aided by the home sides decision to sit incredibly deep - leaving Fish floundering alone up front as the sole focus of both Mossley's attacks and the Radcliffe back four's attention - Borough's continual harrying of anyone wearing a white shirt while in possession of the ball not only forced Mossley even further back towards their own goal, but into making some elementary mistakes as well.

Andy Waine was the first of the visitors to try his luck in the fifth minute with an effort that flashed across the face of Liam Higginbotham's goal and inches past the far post. An identical fate befell a shot from Lee Connell eight minutes later but for all their possession and attempts, it wasn't until the 35th minute that they actually called the Mossley goalkeeper into making a save; Higginbotham producing a point blank stop to prevent Michael Oates from putting Borough ahead.

Immediately following the interval Mossley appeared slightly more pro-active in their attempts to fashion a goal. Leon Henry shot narrowly wide from distance and twice from corners the Lilywhites flashed headers past the post.

However any momentum that the Lilywhites may have been building was soon lost through a combination of Radcliffe's pressing game plan and some sloppy football from the hosts. At times Mossley were their own worst enemy and this was no more evident than in the build up to the opening goal of the game. Having rode their luck numerous times after they'd surrendered possession cheaply (one shot ricocheting off the upright and Oates spurning a glorious chance with a free header), it eventually ran out in the 69th minute.

A careless pass to no-one when Mossley looked to be building an attack allowed Radcliffe to counter, and with the home defence caught cold, Mark Jones added the finishing touch to Waines' smart through ball by slipping it under the advancing Higginbotham.

The Lilywhites could offer little in response and the victory was sealed for the side from the borough of Bury in the 78th minute. Mossley needlessly conceded a free-kick close to their own touchline and from the resultant cross Michael Oates rose unmarked on the edge of the six yard box (causing numerous supporters to suffer flashbacks to a whole host of last season's games) to head home.

The closing stages saw Mossley push forward in search of what would be little more than a consolation goal but Hall was never in any danger of being denied his first clean sheet of the campaign.

There was a really deflated atmosphere at the final whistle. Presumably through people trying to tally what they'd seen in pre-season to what they'd just witnessed. The difference between the two being so marked that even Ray Charles could see it. And he's been dead for a few years now!

Everything that was good about Mossley in the friendlies and, from what I'm told, in the match at Clitheroe, was absent without leave in this game. The neat, attractive passing game that worked so well in the warm-up matches was all too often replaced with a big boot up field in the general direction of the increasingly isolated figure of Michael Fish; food and drink for the people charged with marking him.

I'm not going to sit here though and list all the negatives about Mossley's performance in what was only the second competitive game they've played but, on the other hand, I can't pretend that Mossley were anything other than poor. It is after all a match report and not a work of fiction (although there are one or two clubs that can't differentiate between the two). And while I could write that we were desperately unlucky and we deserved at least a point, it would be the literary equivalent of sprinkling flea powder on the Eiffel Tower in the hope of passing it off as a dog – both pointless and an insult to the intelligence of everyone who could see precisely what it was.

That's not to say that there weren't some positives. The new kit, for instance, looked very nice and the bus shelter is on its way to being habitable again in the near future. Seriously though, Fish worked his proverbial socks off for the team while the odds were stacked against him (one against four) while Lee Blackshaw was probably the pick of the players trying to help him .

In the end though it was a victory that even the most blinkered of home fans would be hard pressed to begrudge Borough; we were relegated to second best in too many areas of the pitch for it not to be otherwise. And it's a result that will give Mossley's new management team plenty of food for thought as they head into the busy Bank Holiday weekend.

Like everyone else though I'll take comfort in the fact that we're still a new team and blips are to be expected. It's when they turn into Zeppelin sized blimps that we should be worried. So until then its perseverance and patience while we iron out the creases, take a rasp to the burrs, cement the cracks or any one of the countless number of similes applicable to this situation.

Nil desperandum. Yet.

With that over with it's time for the 'highlights' – a term I use with some hesitation:

Season Start - Part Two

It feels like its been a long time coming but the home legs of the new season get under way like they did last year: with a Tuesday evening game against local (-ish) opposition.

After avoiding what seemed at one point like a nailed on relegation through a massive post-Christmas turnaround, I dare say that like us Radcliffe will be hoping for a slightly better season from the get go this time.

In an attempt to do so they’ve made a managerial change and ex-Chorley boss Gary Luckza has been charged with bringing the form Borough showed in the knock out competitions last year (they won the Manchester Premier Cup as well as being losing finalists in the Presidents Cup) into their league campaign.

Actually manager is the wrong term. What Radcliffe have actually done is appoint a Director of Football. Yes, the title that’s used by a growing number of clubs in order to make them seem modern and progressive, yet only succeeds in making the look pretentious, has now made its way down to the Unibond First Division North. What next? The P.A. announcer being labelled a Business/Customer Liaison Officer? The players becoming Consumer Experience Specialists?

Whatever it is, football will still have to go some distance to beat the title currently bestowed on the workers at Subway by their employers: sandwich artists.

Keeping up with the news at Stainton Park has been somewhat difficult this close season due to i) Radcliffe’s web site undergoing the transformation into a flashy yet generic and soulless internet presence and ii) the club forum continually attempting to install a virus on my computer every time I tried logging on to it.

From the information I can gather though the only familiar faces in Borough’s likely line-up is Mike Flynn, the former Stockport County player who played four games for Mossley on loan from Hyde in 2006.

The corresponding fixture last season took place in the middle of Mossley’s long spell without a win (or Winter as it’s more commonly known as) with the Lilywhites almost snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, not that that description actually narrows the events of last year down any. In the end the sighs of relief that greeted the final whistle were evidence enough that the home support were happy to settle for a 2 – 2 draw.

While Mossley were away winning in Clitheroe, the season got off to a less than auspicious start for Borough on Saturday with a 2-0 defeat at home to Ossett Albion which you can read about here. But at this early stage of the season any bearing those results will have on the one in this game are somewhat negligible. Still we live in hope...

Clitheroe 0 - 2 Mossley

Sadly there'll be no report for this game as it took place beyond the gaze of Mossley80.

If the trains between Huddersfield and Manchester ran 10 minutes later than they're scheduled to then I'd probably have made it to the match. Unfortunately, first game of the season or not, some non-footballing matters take priority and as a consequence a seat on the 11:57 from Mossley station to Victoria was not to be.

I took comfort in the fact though that Mossley have won every fixture at Clitheroe that I've failed to attend and happily it's something that is as true today as it was on Saturday morning.

A report on the fixture will undoubtedly appear here in due course but what I do know is:
  • Michael Fish scored both of Mossley's goals in the first half.

  • For the second year running the Lilywhites game at Clitheroe was held up for a considerable length of time due to an injury to Mossley's Nick Challinor.

  • Which meant that for the second year in succession Mossley had a full back stretchered off with a serious injury in the opening game of the season. Who says history doesn't repeat itself?

  • The clean sheet kept in this game means that, including last season, it's now 192 minutes since we conceded a league goal.

  • And, er... that's it.
In order to fill a blank afternoon I briefly considered making the short trip to Hurst Cross to watch Ashton United take on North Ferriby. However the lure of watching Olympic cycling on the television was to much to ignore. Plus it was considerably cheaper.

All being well normal service will resume on Mossley80 in midweek for the Radcliffe match. No promises though.

And So It Begins

It’s a second successive season started away from home for Mossley as we make the “shorter than it seems” trip to our old friends at Clitheroe. So, a nice easy one to be getting off with then!

During the very early stages of last season it looked as though Clitheroe would be one of the teams that made up the small group of relegation dog fighters all leagues are legally obliged to have each year.

When Mossley arrived at Shawbridge in October the home side had only three points to their name and were still searching for their first win of the season. Two hours, one change of referee and one prolonged “zone out” session from Mossley later they had it; two late goals securing a 3 - 2 victory in a game the Lilywhites had never looked like losing until the man in the middle picked up an injury that necessitated a 25 minute stoppage.

It didn’t seem it at the time but in hindsight I think that for myself, and a few others too, it was this game that was the turning point in our season. The optimism that had been slowly generated over the summer was suddenly replaced by the realisation that the Mr Hyde side to our character was far more dominant than the Dr Jekyll side.

Everything that was to haunt us for the rest of the season was evident in this one match: the slipshod defending, the lack of focus, fitness and changes when they needed to be made. I could go into further detail about what happened but you’re probably better off just re-reading the match report for yourself.

That’s all in the past though and with our new fitness/training regimen I can’t see the team this year, should lightning strike twice, standing around idly for all but the final three minutes of a 25 minute stoppage.

Lining up for Clitheroe against us should be ex-Lilywhites Joel Pilkington, Jonathan Smith and Danny Toronczack so it's almost a certainty that at least one of them will score against us, the unwritten rules of football being what they are. The question is as to whether we can outscore them.

While the performances in pre-season have ranged from good to excellent, this is going to be one hell of a tough game for what is essentially a brand new side. As long as we made a good fist of it though I expect that the visitors on the terraces will return home happy.

Then again, with the amount of drink that's likely to be consumed between entering Mossley Station in the morning and leaving it on the return home at night, merriness, no matter what happens, is practically guaranteed.

Great (Or Not So Great) Expectations

Throughout the friendlies literally no-one has come up to me and asked who I thought would be challenging for honours and who’d be fighting against the drop in the Unibond First Division North this season.

It's a situation I'm happy about though as not only do I hate making predictions, I'm useless at them as well. Sat at work with nothing to do though I began to think about how Mossley would do in the upcoming campaign and as a consequence, how the other teams would fare.

I started to jot down whereabouts in the league I thought teams will be come April and within the space of a minute or two (admittedly not that much thought went into) I had the following list. Instead of pinpointing actual finishing positions, which is a bit too anally retentive, I’ve split the league into five categories.

Please note that the order in which the teams appear in each category is completely random

Promotion contenders:
Durham City, Halifax Town, Skelmersdale United, Colwyn Bay, Clitheroe, Trafford

Near missers:
Curzon Ashton, Newcastle Blue Star, Bamber Bridge

Lancaster City, Ossett Albion, Wakefield, Chorley

Safely unrelegated:
Garforth Town, Harrogate Railway Athletic, Rossendale United, Woodley Sports

Rock bottom:
Radcliffe Borough, Warrington Town, Salford City

The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that one team is missing.

Where you think the Lilywhites will finish is a question of how -istic you want to be.

If you were optimistic you'd probably see Mossley placed in the promotion contenders/near-missers groupings come the end of the season. The performances in the home friendlies against Stalybridge, Droylsden, and Hyde certainly suggest that we could do well in the league. However, as we're not in the Blue Square North we'll have to adjust our sights accordingly.

Being pessimistic you'll more than likely Mossley finishing in the rock bottom section. And if you were being Stylistic you'd do a little shuffle dance and expect them to make you feel brand new.

Sadly you have to be realistic and being just that I think we're more likely to be closer to the pessimistic outlook than the optimistic one. That's not to say I think we'll be fighting a relegation battle, far from it. I hope we do go on to surprise a lot of people this year but I believe we'll finish in the bottom half of the table, a safe distance away from the relegation dogfight taking place beneath us; a situation which will be a vast improvement on last season.

And to be honest I believe that even the tiniest improvements in league positions is something the majority of supporters would be happy to see. Finishing the campaign one place above where we ended up last year might not be particularly ambitious but if it was achieved, it will be the first step forward the club has made on the pitch for three years. From tiny acorns, etc.

That said a cup run would be nice, even it's only in the Manchester Premier Cup.

Whatever happens though I wish everyone associated with Mossley AFC all the best over the coming eight and a half months. And in regards to the players and management...

So this is it everyone.

Remove all loose clothing, make sure that all straps and guard rails are securely fastened and keep your hands in the car at all times. But most of all, enjoy the latest run around the track on the white knuckle ride that is Mossley AFC.

Dukinfield Town 0 - 4 Mossley

Another goal for Michael Fish and another hat-trick for Danny Egan ensured that Mossley finished their pre-season campaign with another win.

And sadly that's as in-depth as the match report gets.

I was fully intending do a proper report, with maybe a video clip and a picture thrown in as well, but non-stop rain between 10:00 am and 2:00pm, the time I was due to set off to the game, put a stop to that.

Normally a prolonged spell of precipitation wouldn't stop me from attending a match but the lack of any kind of cover at Dukinfield's Blocksages ground brought unpleasant memories of last seasons FA Cup match at Cheadle flooding back (flooding being an incredibly apt verb considering the amount of water that fell from the sky that afternoon). Not about the game itself, though it was bad, but the incredibly painful backache in the hours and days afterwards brought about by the dampness.

Therefore the prospect of spending two hours stood in the pouring rain, and the forty eight after it being unable to stand up straight without some industrial strength medication, wasn't a particularly inviting one. Hence the non-attendance.

Hopefully the match was a good one. A 4-0 score line suggests it was, at least for the Lilywhites, and this result in combination with those from the other friendlies does give some cause for optimism ahead of the start of the season proper.

However, as optimism and Mossley go together like oil and water, history suggests not having any is probably the best course of action to take.

Anyway, fingers crossed, touch wood, etc. for the coming eight and a half months.

Chip Wrappers: 08/08/08

The football season hasn't even started yet but the local papers (well, one of them) have all ready hit the ground running.

From this weeks Reporter (07/08/2008):

Yes, you may have thought that Ashton United's season was starting next week but in a move that will shock many people, not least those associated with Droylsden who thought they were playing Tamworth this weekend, the Robins have had a very late promotion to the Blue Square North. It's a pity though that after all the work they've done on their ground this summer, they can't play it at Hurst Cross.

Or maybe I'm getting it all wrong and it just another proof reading error.

Then, when you turn over the next page there's this:

Why not? Do they want the answer in bullet points or in the form of an essay?

The fact that seasons tickets are still available suggests that if you come up with the best reason as to "why not", you might not like the prize.

And out of interest, has any non-league club ever sold out of season tickets or reached a point where none are ever available?

Padiham 1 - 2 Mossley

The penultimate match of Mossley's build-up for the new season ended in another victory for the Lilywhites, albeit a narrow one against the lowest ranked side they've faced so far - Vodkat First Division side Padiham.

Not for the first time in the games played this summer, Mossley had to come from behind to claim the win. one down at the interval, goals from Michael Fish (penalty) and Dave Hanlon in the opening ten minutes of the second half sealed the result.

Anyone worried about the slim margin of victory shouldn't be. There's little cause for concern as, not only was it a friendly, the last time Mossley faced a NWCFL second tier side (last seasons Manchester Premier Cup) they lost to their reserves. We have in fact actually improved.

Woo - and indeed - hoo!

Why We Watch Non-League Football - Part One

So we don't find ourselves associated with things like this:

Bayern Munich show what happens when you give the marketing team more money than they need...

Before watching it though I suggest you place a cushion, either on your lap or the floor, to protect your jaw when it drops around the 1:30 mark.

Liversedge 0 - 6 Mossley

Mossley's latest friendly saw the Lilywhites take a short trip along the M62 for their first pre-season game away from Seel Park. Liversegde's Clayborn Ground was the venue

Mossley continued their run of quietly impressive pre-season results with a comfortable victory at Northern Counties East side Liversedge. In reality it was a no-win game for the Lilywhites in that they were expected to emerge victorious but 6 - 0 is a pretty emphatic scoreline - even against a side from a lower division.

The six goals scored (Lee Blackshaw, Danny Egan, an o.g. and a second half hat-trick from Michael Fish) takes the total in the friendlies so far to 29 in 5 games; 19 in Mossley's favour and 9 not. Alas there'll be no footage of these most recent six as I wasn't at the game, and there won't be any footage of another game from this weekend either.

Normally at this time of the year when I can't get to a Mossley match I'll go and watch one of the other local friendlies taking place. However I decided instead to have one last football free Saturday afternoon before the season starts. This involved:
  • Finally coming to the conclusion that the new look Mossley80 definitely won't be ready for the start of the 08/09 campaign.

  • Getting my account at to work properly nearly 10 months after first joining

  • Wondering why on earth I bothered registering an account with

  • Watching the third and final season of Arrested Development (the best sitcom in recent years, if not the last decade)

  • Watching the pre-season game between Arsenal vs Juventus which was just as funny, if only for the commentators belief that Adebayor can shoot the home side to the Premiership title. Something I'll admit is entirely possible if league points start being awarded for shots off target and looking increasingly like a half season wonder.
Finally, there is a report on the Mossley friendly on the Liversedge website but I wouldn't put too much trust in which of our players they say did what. Though not impossible I doubt that it was our goalkeeper and not Michael Fish that scored the final three goals.

Mossley 2 - 2 Stockport County

The Lilywhites final home friendly of the 08/09 pre-season campaign didn't exactly get off to the best of starts.

Two goals in the first twenty minutes for the visitors planted the the thought that it was going to be a long night for Mossley but the expected flood of goals never arrived. Chances were at a premium for both sides but that's not to say it was a dull game because it wasn't. Despite the lack of goalmouth incidents it was good to watch two teams passing the ball around on the floor without resorting to the time honoured Seel Park "favourite" of knocking it as far up the pitch as humanly possible. In fact I don't think the ball flew over the ground perimeter once which is the first time that's happened in quite a while.

Midway through the second period the introduction of Messrs. Weston and Henry gave Mossley a bit more impetus in their quest to rescue a game that appeared beyond them, and it was from a surging run down the right by the former that the Lilyoranges grabbed what looked like a consolation goal; his low ball across the face of the goal tapped in by Danny Dignan with a little over eight minutes left on the clock.

With precisely no minutes left a significantly sized slice of good fortune drew Mossley level. Henry, Hanlon and Egan were all involved in the build-up to the goal but it was a County centre half who applied the final touch, deftly sending his own keeper the wrong way with a tiny flick of hit outstretched boot.

While never coming close to matching the previous three friendlies in terms of the number of incidents contained in their respective ninety minutes, it was nevertheless entertaining. Even if the game had finished 2- 0 to County I think that many of the Mossley fans present would still have left the ground happy with what they saw.

If you want a different, and a better written, take on this match then try the official Stockport County version

But you haven't come to Mossley80 to read have you? No, you've come to see if I've stuck any footage of the match up on YouTube. Well, just so you don't leave disappointed:

I apologise for the delay if you have been eager to read about the match or see the highlights (you never know, there might be 'that' someone) but I went to see the new X-Files movie instead.

Some things are more important than football! ;-)