Sunday, 25 April 2010

1 county 2 leagues

Hopping around Shropshire - 24th April 2010

Game 1
Shropshire County League Division 1
Hodnet Social Club, Shrewsbury Street, Hodnet, Shropshire

This is the first game on this years Shropshire County League (SCL) hop and also the first game I have ever attended in this league. The SCL sits at level nine and ten of England's non-league pyramid and is a feeder league to the West Midlands (Regional) League.

FC Hodnet were only formed in 2007 and played their debut season in the Shropshire Alliance. They subsequently won the league and cup double and with it promotion to the SCL. Their debut season in the SCL saw them finish in a creditable fifth place in the twelve team division. This season they currently occupy 4th place, though fifteen points behind leaders Ketley Bank United and thirteen behind today's opponents Newport Town. Hodnet itself is a village in central Shropshire some 6 miles south west of Market Drayton and 15 miles north east of Shrewsbury.

The ground is part of the local sports centre in the village with the pitch being roped off though permanent dugouts are in place. The social club is adjacent to the pitch and the club were well organised to cope with around 100 extra visitors to their club. Inside they had a selection of hot and cold food available including bacon baps, soup and sandwiches. The game itself ended in a 1-1 draw which on the overall balance of play I thought was a fair result. Hodnet were deservedly in front at half time through a well taken goal from their best player Scott Holiday. It was in the 22nd minute when he picked the ball up on the half way line and went on a run and when reaching the penalty area drilled a low shot past the visiting keeper into the right hand corner of the goal. The second half was a more scrappy affair with neither side exerting any authority on the game, this until the last fifteen minutes when Newport upped their game and put some sustained pressure on the hosts. Their equaliser came on 87 minutes when a very generous penalty was awarded and allowed captain Hendley to give his side a deserved point.

Admission: £2.50
Programme: £1 - first ever issue I believe. Very impressive.
Attendance: 103 (head count)
Match rating: 2 out of 5

Google maps driving time and distance: 1 hour 40 minutes and 85 miles

Game 2
Cheshire League Division 2
Yocklings Park, Black Park Road, Whitchurch, Shropshire

This game is not part of the SCL hop but myself and travelling companion Gary decided on this one instead of the second SCL game at St Martins. Whitchurch were formed in 1946 and joined the Shrewsbury & District League, but just two years later they became founder members of the Mid-Cheshire League (MCL). They have remained in the league ever since with the MCL changing name to the Cheshire League in 2007. The club are the only one in the league based in Shropshire and became league champions for the one and only time in 1970. The club were the last English club to win the Welsh Amateur Cup in 1974 before English clubs were barred from entering the competition.

Whitchurch is a market town on the northern edge of Shropshire with a population in 2001 at 8.673. The town is at a crossroads with Cheshire some 21 miles to the north, Wrexham 16 miles to the north west, Crewe 15.5 miles to the north east and Shrewsbury 21 miles to the south.  

This season Whitchurch are struggling and currently find themselves in 13th place in the 16 team division, recording just 28 points from the 24 games played. They have lost their last two games 2-1 @ Crewe and 2-0 @ Tarporley Victoria respectively. Grappenhall sit in mid-table having obtained 41 points from their 28 games. Like Whitchurch they have also have lost their last two games, 5-0 @ Warrington Town Reserves and 3-1 @ Crewe.

The ground is located on the edge of the town and for the level they play at it is a cracking little venue. You enter in the corner of the ground and ahead of you is the small but smart social club and a seated stand which also houses the changing rooms. The first half was not the best with neither side being better than the other. The only goal of the half came on 39 minutes when an angled ball across the box was controlled by the visiting number 13 and then hit a low shot back across the keeper into the corner of the goal. Ten minutes or so into the second half and the visitors thought they had scored a second but it was disallowed by the referree. Just a minute later on 57 minutes and they did get their second when the scorer rounded the keeper and slotted the ball home. This seemed to wake the home side up and they had their best spell of the game and for around fifteen minutes they created some chances and looked like getting back into the game. Grappenall weathered the storm so to speak and clinched all three points with a third goal on 81 minutes with an angled shot into the top corner. This was without doubt the best game of the three, though to be honest it did not have a lot of competition.

Admission: £3
Programme: none
Attendance: 48 (head count)

Google maps driving time and distance (from Hodnet): 19 minutes and 10.4 miles 

Game 3
Shropshire County League Premier Division
Weston Road, Morda, Shropshire

Hopper Gatherers @ Morda

Our third game of the day sees us take in the third game on the SCL hop at Morda United. Morda is a village on the southern edge of Oswestry. The earliest records I have for the club are in 1988 when they joined the Mid-Wales League. They were crowned Mid-Wales League champions in 1991, while three years later they joined the West Midlands (Regional) League(WML). Ten years were spent in the WML before joining the Shropshire County League in 2004.

This season Morda are in the bottom half of the table winning only six of their 18 games played recording just 20 points. They drew their last league game 0-0 v Telford Juniors and were hammered 8-0 against today's opponents in the Commander Ethelston Charity Cup @ Whitwhurch Alport FC. Ellesmere themselves sit in sixth place with 23 points from their 14 games played. They have lost their last two games 4-2 @ St. Martins and 3-2 v Impact United (Leegomery)
Morda play on Weston Road on the edge of the village with the ground fully railed off with a seated stand on the far side. The game was a strange affair with Ellesmere (as expected) having the chances and forcing the home keeper to make some good saves early on. Their opening goal came on 16 minutes when Lee Ruscoe converted a penalty. A few minutes later and the game was held up after the home keeper dislocated his shoulder and had to be taken to hospital in an ambulance. With Morda not having a substitute goalkeeper an outfield player went in goal and it took a while for the game to get going again. Ellesmere scored their second on 44 minutes, and like the first was from the penalty spot and scored by Ruscoe. To make matters worse for Morda their captain was sent off for conceding the penalty. The second half was a stale affair with Ellesmere knowing they had the game sown up and Morda not looking like they were capable of getting back into the game. The three final goals came in the space of just eight minutes on 70, 73 and 78 respectively. 
Admission: £2.50
Programme: £1 (poor effort)
Attendance: unsure but a decent turn out from the locals along with the groundhoppers
Match rating: 1.5 out of 5

Google maps driving time and distance (from Whitchurch): 42 minutes and 22 miles

FC Hodnet:
Whitchurch Alport:
Morda United: http://http//

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