Chadderton 2 - 5 Mossley

There are tougher baptisms into management at a club than a friendly against a side two divisions below you but circumstances (i.e. the need for games to get the players back up to match fitness after the long, weather enforced lay-off) dictated that John Flanagan began his reign as Lilywhites manager on a small field in one Oldham's least salubrious districts.

It didn't get off to the most promising of starts either as the home side put themselves in front very early on in the game. The conventions of football match reporting insist that I must call it a shock lead because that is what it was. Prior to it Mossley had missed a host of good chances and after the match had restarted they continued to miss some more.

On the positive side the approach play that was creating all these chances was really rather good: quick interceptions, short passes, intelligent off the ball movement and well delivered crosses. In fact there wasn't a single aimless punt up the pitch all night.

The visitors eventually cancelled out the lead when an incredibly poor pass by the Chadderton left back gave Mike Fish the chance to roll the ball past the keeper, and they went ahead moments later through Chris McDonough.

Fish then added a third after a run which took him half the length of the pitch. Yes, you read that correctly. Even though he had a two yard head start on his marker (no assistant referees being present at the game meant that most offsides weren't punished - though it was amusing to see defenders appealing to someone who wasn't there) it was still quite the finish from the considerably fitter and svelter 2010 version of last seasons top scorer. McDonough grabbed his second of the game before the break and to be honest, instead of the score being 4 - 1 at half-time it could have easily been triple that.

It took only a couple of minutes of the second half to elapse before Fish completed his hat-trick and the home side doubled their total for the evening almost from the restart. And that was it. No more goals and not much more excitement either. Mossley could possibly have had a couple more but the game slowly lost its verve and petered out to nothingness long before the referee brought the proceedings to a merciful close.

Still, every member of the squad got a chance to have a bit of a run around before the league fixtures resume on Saturday. Well, all bar Steve Moore, the injured Graham Kay and Sam Walker. The latter having returned from whence he came - the whence in question being Woodley. But thanks, good luck (except against us), etc.

Next on the agenda is a trip to Radcliffe Borough and a ground where not a single decent game of football has ever taken place between the two sides. I for one can wait!

Those Halcyon Days

It's hard to believe that almost thirty years have flown by since Mossley reached the FA Trophy Final at Wembley.

It doesn't half make you feel old either! Way back then I was only nipper but, unlike most other occasions in my childhood, it's an event I still have strong memories of to this very day.

Not of the match mind you. The infamous problems with the sight lines at the old Wembley Stadium were rendered considerably worse for me given my tiny stature at that young age (I know, I haven't gotten much bigger since!), meaning that I struggled to see lengthy spells of the game as the people sat in front stood up to see for themselves what was going on at the opposite end of the pitch.

So what memories I have are of the events that surrounded the game: getting your photo taken for the national press in the week leading up to the final, the team coach driving past school as they set off for Wembley, the special Mossley jacket my mum had made for me, the atmosphere at Mossley station on the morning of the game, the train trip down, the singing on the streets surrounding the stadium, the hairs on the neck moment when Abide With Me was sung, Mossley scoring, Kevin Keelan somehow heading over the cross bar, the surprisingly upbeat trip home, listening to Leo Skeete's goal again on the Radio Manchester commentary that had been recorded to reel to reel tape, the teams homecoming the next day on the crowded market ground... to name but half a dozen or more vivid recollections of the day.

Anyway, the reason for this trip down memory lane (a whole four months before the 30th anniversary of that very day) is because the documentary that Granada TV filmed that day - imaginatively titled 'Mossley Goes To Wembley' - has been put on YouTube by Lilywhites fan Steve B. And what follows this paragraph is that half hour long programme, shown just once, split into three easily digestible parts:

I'm not ashamed to admit that watching that documentary again brought a hint of moisture to my eye and for a multitude of reasons too.

Will we see those days again? The obvious answer is "no, probably not" but logical reasoning and being a football fan don't sit well together. Instead I'll go with the tried and trusted response of the seasoned supporter - "there's always next year!"

Home From Home

Thanks to the good people of Ashton United, Mossley now have a home to go to for night matches.

A week on Tuesday (2nd February, 2010) the Robins' Hurst Cross ground will play host to the game against FC Halifax Town and, fixture clashes permitting, the remainder of Mossley's midweek games for the foreseeable future.

The need to find somewhere to play Saturday afternoon games has been circumvented too thanks to a team of volunteers removing the six remaining floodlights from Seel Park. Of course this means that, until the clocks go forward at least, we'll be having to kick-off a bit earlier than usual but as trade-offs go that isn't a big one compared to what the alternative is - no football in Mossley at all.

Flood(light)ing The Media

Thanks to the efforts of some people at the club, Mossley's current financially precarious situation brought about by the floodlights has gained the attention of local television and radio stations.

What follows are a couple of the pieces that have been aired on TV and, first of all, BBC Radio Manchester's 'Breakfast with Beswick' show (22/10/2010):

Just click the play button to listen to it or, alternatively, you can download it by following the instructions here.

The following is a video of the report that aired on Granada Tonight (21-01-2010):

Should you feel inclined after listening to and watching the above, details on how donate to Mossley's floodlight fund can be found here. Or, if you so wish, you can donate directly via the clubs Paypal page by following this link.

Glossop North End 2 - 1 Mossley

Five football free weeks came to an end for Mossley at Glossop's Surrey Street ground and so did their involvement in the Manchester Premier Cup.

Not having travelled to watch this game I have no idea what happened other than the home side took a two goal lead into the interval before Matty Kay halved the deficit for the Lilywhites with twenty minutes to go.

There's precious little other information available detailing any of the events that transpired on the evening which is unusual. However, given the news that broke an hour or two before kick-off regarding the floodlights, there are more pressing concerns for supporters than the shedding of crocodile tears at being knocked out of a minor cup competition.

The Light Programme

The saga of Mossley's floodlights has entered a new and ever so slightly depressing chapter with the club issuing a statement that the pylons which didn't blow over have been declared unsafe.

This means two things. The first is that the club now has to find £30,000 to be able to erect a new set of lights. Fortunately Tameside Council have agreed to cover half of that cost (which is genuinely awfully good of them) but that still means £15,000 has to be found.

In order to reach that total the club are looking for donations and these can be made in one of three ways:

  1. Paypal - to reach the Mossley AFC Paypal page follow this link to the official site and then click on the donate button in the left hand column. Or alternatively, go direct to the Mossley AFC Paypal page here.

  2. By paying directly into the clubs bank account -

    Nat West Bank
    Mossley AFC Ltd.
    A/c. 10020778
    Sort code. 16-25-32

  3. Or by sending a cheque made payable to Mossley AFC to -

    Seel Park
    Market Street
    OL5 0ES

And I'm sure, as the Tesco slogan goes, every little helps.

I did say it meant two things and as I've only mentioned one I should relay the other. The safety issue regarding the remaining lights means that matches can no longer be played at Seel Park until the situation is rectified. This means that it's likely we'll spend from now until the end of the season moving nomadically around local grounds in order to fulfil our league fixtures a situation which, as I'm sure you can imagine, is hardly ideal.

It might not be good news but at least it's news.

The Lost Days

The entirely expected postponement of Mossley's Manchester Premier Cup game at Glossop and the league fixture at Colwyn Bay means that it is now officially 'quite some time' since the Lilywhites last partook in a competitive game of football.

In fact 32 days have passed since that awful/shocking/turgid/"Oh why won't the memories of it fade" performance at Salford City. And if you divide that by seven it means four and a bit weeks of the season have now been lost to what will go down in the history books as 'an unusually nippy winter' (it's true - I've checked with the history book writers).

But that's not all we've lost over that period of time. Besides the two of the floodlights throwing themselves to their deaths in the pre-New Year gales, we've also lost the services of four players. The departures of Danny Egan and Chris Hirst being quickly followed by those of Karl Brown and Tom Spearritt.

You've got to feel sorry for Egan who as a striker always seemed to be "one goal away from regaining his confidence" and sadly that goal never came. Hirst returned to the club in November after an injury hit spell at Salford City. Full fitness never arrived back at Seel Park either and despite a cameo appearance in the League Cup game at Lancaster (in which the local radio commentators picked him out as Mossley's best player on the night) he barely got off the bench on the few occasions he was selected to sit on it.

While those departures are understandable, the farewells said to Brown and Spearritt are odder. Okay, maybe not in the case of Spearett who, along with Adam Morning and Danny Meadowcroft, appears to be another member of the Littlest Hobo club. Brown's exit though is stranger. Admittedly he wasn't every supporters cup of tea but when he was on form he was a good player to have in the side, particularly for his set-piece deliveries.

There have been a couple of signings to help bolster the ranks. We've finally signed a back-up keeper and a winger has arrived from Curzon Ashton. I wish I could tell you more about them but I'm feeling too lazy to do a Google search at the moment.

This being non-league football though we shouldn't be surprised at the comings and goings because a high turnover of playing staff is part and parcel of this level of the game. Most clubs are equipped with a revolving door when it comes squad arrivals and departures - it's just that Mossley's can cope with coach parties passing through them rather than the odd solitary bod.

The next game on the horizon, which is of course dependent on how the thaw goes, is the rearranged cup game against Glossop. After weeks of inactivity for both sides the chances of a decent game taking place are akin to finding something nutritional and tasty in the KFC that's next to door to the NWCL side's ground. I mean, it's not as though either side was ripping up trees before their enforced breaks.

Oh, I almost forgot, Mossley may not be quite as ring rusty as it seems when they visit Surrey Street in midweek (weather permitting). Apparently we did play a behind closed doors game with Northwich Victoria a couple of weeks ago and chipped in with 25% of the goals scored during the work out. Well that sounds better than we lost 9-3 which we are rumoured to have done. Stories are abound too of a similar game against Stalybridge having taken place this weekend as well.

So somewhere not very far away football is actually taking place. Who knows? We may get to see some of it ourselves very soon.

This Is The BBC

Things do have a habit of looking grim when you're a Mossley fan.

We haven't played a match for a while and may not be playing a match for a good while longer either judging by the weather forecast for the coming weeks to ten days. Valuable revenue streams have slowed to a trickle, we're struggling for points - facing the real prospect of a relegation battle once hostilities resume - and the number of usable floodlights at Seel Park has fallen (literally) by 25% in recent weeks.

But it's not all bad news, no. We've actually made it onto the BBC sports website!
Okay, it may only be the 'Quotes of the Week' section but from tiny entries on a comedic article do larger and grander reports grow. Possibly.

White Out

Here we are on the fifth day of January and the chances of any Mossley AFC related match reports appearing on this very blog at some point in the near future are looking, frankly, remote.

Our cup exploits, the mid-December cold snap, the pre-Christmas snow, the New Year cold snap and this weeks snow (the worst I've seen since I was small - well smaller than I am), has left us with a backlog of fixtures to fulfil. And with the likelihood of another huge batch of postponements in the coming weeks, it means that we face the very real possibility of another season in which we're playing three or even four times a week.

This means plenty of midweek games being shoehorned into the fixture list which causes an additional problem for the Lilywhites because of the 'floodlight incident' which happened last week. In case you don't know the lights at Seel Park came down a lot sooner than Twelth Night as the incredibly strong winds we had on December 30th claimed two of the floodlight pylons as victims.

At the moment no-one knows how long this situation will take to be rectified, especially with the ground under a couple of feet of ice crystals, so the possibility of there being anything other than a hectic end to the season is unlikely. Highly so.

But what to write about in the meantime? What do you put on a Mossley AFC related blog when, thanks to the snow, there's nothing Mossley AFC related to write about? One option I suppose is to just post pictures of that snow so guess what?

Having struggled to get to work for twenty to eight this morning, I was on my way home a mere five minutes later as the place was closed down for the day. With no buses and a train service that was running at what best could be described as 'intermittently', there was little option other than to walk home, so what follows are photos taken on that trek. Just click on an image to be taken to a larger version:

Let's hope there's some football soon to stop more posts like this one, eh?