Monday, 27 March 2017

Red Rose Football Blog (Number 23)






                                                   Number 23                                            March 27 2017                                                                           

Wigan Athletic; their finest hour

Wigan has always been recognised as a Rugby League town and the Latics, founded in 1932 were the fifth attempt to establish a strong football team in the town. From 1921 to 1986, the bottom 4 clubs in the Football League had to seek re-election in a vote off against successful and well-resourced non-league clubs. During those 59 seasons, only 13 league clubs failed to be re-elected as the Football League came to be regarded as a closed shop;  Hartlepool United successfully re-applying 14 times for example. Since 1987, there has been automatic promotion but Wigan made 33 attempts to join the League, once bizarrely applying to join the Scottish League, such was the frustration in the non-league game at that time. Wigan Athletic was an extremely strong non-league outfit, winning the Cheshire League and the Lancashire Combination 4 times each before twice being Northern Premier League Champions. There was no Conference at that time but in 1978, promotion to the Football League finally beckoned, replacing close neighbours Southport. Progress was steady as they inexorably climbed the leagues, winning promotion to the Premier League in 2005. They never achieved a top ten finish but held their own with the Premier League big boys and by the start of the 2012-13 season, Roberto Martinez had been manager for 3 years. The club struggled in the league but was on a roll in the cup, winning 4-1 at Huddersfield in the 5th Round, 3-0 at Everton in the last 8 and defeating Millwall at Wembley by a 2-0 margin in the semi-final. The FA Cup Final appeared to be a lost cause, drawn against the reigning Premier League champions Manchester City. They boasted world class players in Tevez, Aguero, Silva, Toure, Nasri, Kompany and Hart. Possession was generally shared throughout the match but City were slipshod, most of the exciting football being played by Wigan for whom winger Callum McManaman was outstanding. With 6 minutes to play, full back Zabaleta was dismissed and Wigan piled on the pressure as injury time loomed. Shaun Maloney sent over a corner and Ben Watson’s head did the rest. Wigan fans were ecstatic as Emerson Boyce received the trophy, but the sky-blues slumped away, their trophy cabinet empty and manager Roberto Mancini was sacked. The Wigan club was unable to extricate itself from the relegation mire, finishing 18th and setting an unwanted record. They were the first team to be relegated after winning the FA Cup and the team broke up with manager Martinez moving to Everton, taking with him Robles, Kone and McCarthy. The season ended on a bitter-sweet note but it was definitely Wigan Athletic’s finest hour.

Why do you support the team that you support?

Being born and bred in Darwen, I suppose it was inevitable that I supported Blackburn Rovers. The first games I saw as a 7 year old were at Darwen FC; my parents considered me too small to go to Ewood Park, but my father and assorted relatives were all Roverites. My first game was on Good Friday 1954; the Rovers comfortably defeated Leicester City 3-0. I was hooked and for better, and often for worse, I still have a season ticket. There have been times when I have been unable to see many games. Playing regularly, studying in Leeds, being heavily involved in organising schoolboy football and living in France for 7 years are quite formidable obstacles to the cause and I did scout for Burnley for 7 years which stirred up all sorts of emotional turmoil in my head and heart. But wherever I have been in the world, my Saturday evening enjoyment has always been dictated by the Rovers’ score. My mother knew the result by looking at my face when as a schoolboy, I would walk through the door about 5.30 on a Saturday tea-time. Fifty plus years on, my wife reads it from my body language. I know so many of you have similar stories to tell but I am always fascinated as to why a particular person supports a certain team. For many like me it is obvious. But who would I have supported if I had been born in a large city. Geography must determine the outcome in London, Manchester and Birmingham, but what about Liverpool and Dundee where the grounds are side by side. It is religion in Glasgow, whilst family influence and possibly the mates you hang out with could be a factor. But who would I support if I lived in Cornwall or the Lake District? Tragedies can make a difference. The world wide support for Manchester United was fuelled by the Munich Air Crash. Quite rightly there was sympathy for them and neutrals were drawn towards the club. Success is also a massive factor. There were many Liverpool supporters around the North of England in the 70s and 80s and the Old Trafford Reds have gained support in the 90s and the 1st decade of the new millennium. It is also de rigeur for a celebrity to support a famous club; Arsenal, Chelsea or United. They never say that they support Bury or Morecambe because presumably that is uncool. But is there not a touch of inverted snobbery in those of us who support the likes of Blackburn? Can it impress people who may think we are martyrs for the cause? Err…..well perhaps not, but nothing will ever stop us from keeping the faith because that is what a genuine supporter does.
Tommy Briggs
                          I was there on the 5th February 1955 when he scored 7 goals v Bristol Rovers.

Performances of the last week

Fourteen goals in the last 4 away games is certainly promotion form and that is what Bolton Wanderers are closing in on following their 4-2 win at Oxford United in mid-week and a 2-0 win at Shrewsbury at the weekend. Having lost just once in the last 2 months at leaders Sheffield United, the Wanderers are now 6 points clear in 2nd place in League 1. The goals are being shared around with centre-backs Wheater and Beevers contributing, so Bolton’s sojourn in Tier 3 may soon be over after just one year. Rochdale in the same league have been subject to a couple of torrid months following such a bright first half of the season, but they may be making a late run for a Play-Off spot following a comfortable 3-1 win at Chesterfield; extending their unbeaten run to 3 games. Congratulations are also in order to both Bury (0-0 v Fleetwood Town at Gigg Lane) and Oldham Athletic (1-1 at home to Sheffield United); possible relegation candidates but holding the big guns at bay.

In League 2, Blackpool has leapt 2 places to fifth after a less than convincing 2-1 win over Hartlepool United. They had keeper Dean Lyness to thank for several outstanding saves, but although an automatic place seems beyond reach, they are now one of  the bookies favourite to make the Play-Offs. Also in League 2, Accrington Stanley is virtually safe after a last minute free kick from Shay McCartan sailed into the Grimsby net to give them a 1-1 draw. It was the ex-Burnley trainee’s 7th goal in 10 games in what was his 101st appearance for Stanley.

On the non-league scene, Barrow’s National League Play-Off hopes received a boost when they won 4-2 at Solihull Moors and Southport hauled themselves off the bottom with a Liam Nolan winner in their hard fought 1-0 victory over Boreham Wood. The wheels seem to be simultaneously dropping off the promotion challenges of AFC Fylde, Salford and Chorley as they all lost at Nuneaton (4-1), at Boston (2-0) and 3-0 at home to Curzon Ashton respectively in the National League North.  

Skelmersdale United’s sorry season hit new depths, crushed at home 10-1 by Ashton United who set a record away win for the Northern Premier League. Matty Chadwick had a night to remember, scoring 4 with 4 assists as the Skelmersdale youngsters were destroyed. Meanwhile Warrington Town’s stubborn refusal to give up on the chase for a Play-Off spot continued as they won yet again, this time 1-0 at home to Hednesford Town. In the Northern Premier League 1 North, there were wins galore for Red Rose County clubs with the highlight being Lancaster City moving clear again at the top following a comprehensive 3-0 win at Radcliffe Borough. Trafford, Colne and Clitheroe kept alive their hopes of a Play-Off spot, the latter having won at then leaders Farsley Celtic in mid-week. Droylsden, marooned in mid-table throughout the season, suddenly came alive and knocked 6 past one time league leaders Ossett Town.

North West Counties Premier leaders Atherton Collieries stayed in front following a 3-1 win over neighbours Ashton Athletic, assisted to some extent by Bootle losing 2-1 at home to fellow title contenders Runcorn Linnets. At the other end of the table, AFC Darwen’s shock 2-0 win at AFC Liverpool on Friday evening makes it even less likely that Nelson, defeated 2-1 at home by Hanley Town, will escape the drop. In Division 1, Charnock Richard savaged Daisy Hill 7-1 away to move into 3rd place, 9 points behind leaders Litherland REMYCA (who scraped past lowly Atherton LR 2-1), but with 4 games in hand.

Games to look forward to this week

Four out of the top 7 in the Premier League clash over the weekend with the Merseyside derby being the highlight. Liverpool are unbeaten against top 6 sides this season but Everton are 7th and on a roll, so which club is going to make be the “April Fool”. This is the 98th fixture at Anfield and the Toffees have won just 23, but it is a game they need to win if they are to gate crash Europe’s biggest party. Jürgen Klopp on the other hand desperately needs a Champions’ League place to prove that Liverpool is progressing under him. It’s a fascinating fixture! Equally important is the Arsenal v Manchester City clash on Sunday. Guardiola was somewhat over the top in his reaction to the Liverpool draw last week; I felt it was 2 points squandered, so a win at the Emirates is vital. Which Arsenal side will turn up and will Wenger still be there are the big questions, but City cannot allow Spurs to lengthen the gap?

There is much uncertainty at both ends of the Championship and Preston North End is still potentially one win away from being Play-Off contenders. They are a physically strong side and Paul Gallagher has the skill to unlock any defence in this league but Saturday’s opponents Nottingham Forest have a new manager. They may benefit therefore from the Mark Warburton bounce but all PNE fans want to know if Tom Barkhuizen will score again?

Paul Gallagher
Into his 30s, but still a class act in the mid-field jungle

Suddenly Uwe Rosler’s Fleetwood Town are experiencing the less attractive side of the game; namely that you cannot win them all. They face Swindon Town in the EFL League 1 on Saturday and it is a game they should win. Bolton has stolen a march on them in the last few days so the Cod Army will have every incentive to gain 3 points to put the pressure back on their rivals. A few miles round the corner on the Fylde coast, Blackpool will be heading to Luton for what must be their most important game of the season in League 2. The Bedfordshire side are side by side with the Tangerines in the Play-Off positions, occupying 5th and 6th places. Blackpool is unbeaten in their last 9 games and 3 points will be sweet music to the ears of the fans at this beleaguered club.

Quiz of the Week (Answers at the foot of the Blog)

                  Each question has a Red Rose County connection

1                    Who was the last Burnley player to score at the World Cup Finals, doing so for Northern Ireland in 1982?

2                     Who is the Oldham Athletic goalkeeper and the son of a member of Blackburn’s Premier League winning side, who has recently been voted into the League 1 team of the year?

3                     Which Red Rose County club playing in the Northern Premier League has a home ground called Cantilever Park?

4                     Zlatan Ibrahimovic has only played in La Liga for one season; for which team?

                                                                  Zlatan Ibrahimovic
                                                   Wherever he goes he scores goals

5                     He played in the Premier League for Blackpool, was transferred to Queen’s Park Rangers and is now at West Bromwich Albion. Who is he?

6                     Aiden McGeady, the Preston loanee from Everton, plays for which national side?

7                     He scored the 5th England goal in their 5-1 thrashing of Germany in 2001 and was bought by Wigan Athletic in 2006. Who is he?

8                     Who was the Blackburn Rovers winger born in Bolton who was a member of the Premier League winning side in 1995?

9                     Who did Everton sign from Standard Liege for £15 million in 2008 and sell in 2013, making a cool £12.5 million on the deals?

10                 Leroy Sane started in midweek against England but which other Red Rose County player came on after 66 minutes for the Germans?

                                                             Leroy Sane
                          Played the full 90 minutes for Germany v England

Post Weekend Musings

It was sad to see Seamus Coleman stretchered off in Dublin on Friday night. He is one of several outstanding right backs playing in the Premier League at the moment, along with Walker and Valencia (Moses will probably be classed as a wing-back). The double fracture of the Republic of Ireland’s tibia will take rest, recuperation and time but hopefully he will be back for the start of next season. Incidents like this remind us that serious injuries come with the territory. I do not believe that Taylor intended to commit carnage on his opponent’s leg but it was a seriously bad tackle. With the pace of the game being so fast, it is becoming increasingly difficult to time a tackle. A fraction of a second late can sadly cause damage, a sending off and the ruination once more of a very competitive game. We can only hope for no complications and a swift return for the Everton defender.

Seamus Coleman
He has had an outstanding season in the Premier League

March 31st is the deadline for clubs to ensure that their grounds will meet the grading criteria for next season. Rumour has it that several North West Counties Division 1 sides had plenty of work to do after the January inspections and there was the threat that irrespective of the final league positions, clubs not meeting the requirements would be relegated. Two clubs from Tier 11 have applied to join, Wythenshawe Town from South Manchester and North Staffordshire’s Abbey Hulton. If all clubs pass the “ground test”, Wigan’s Ashton Town and Eccleshall from South Staffordshire seem almost certain to be relegated.

The London press as well as Sky Sports and Talk Sport Radio seem undecided between Alli and Kane when discussing England’s best. They are both outstanding players, in particular the mid-field player who has the physicality and eye for a goal to complement his impressive skills set. But what about Adam Lallana? He would surely be everyone’s first pick in a school yard match because nobody would take the ball from him. Adept going left or right, with radar vision and Mo Farah stamina, he dominated during the International week. Perhaps a few more goals would force even the blinkered southern journalists to sing his praises.

The following Red Rose County players started games for the 5 Nations of the British Isles in the last week. Burnley:- Keane (England), Hendrick, Ward (Republic of Ireland). Everton:- Coleman (Republic of Ireland), Williams (Wales). Liverpool:- Lallana (England). Manchester City:- Stones, Sterling (England). Manchester United:- Smalling (England). Blackburn Rovers:- Mulgrew (Scotland). Fleetwood Town:- McGlaughlin (Northern Ireland).

Red Rose County Player of the Week

Michael Keane

Nowadays it is rare for a rookie England player to stay on the pitch for all 180 minutes of his first 2 international games but this has happened to Michael Keane. Injuries to Jones and Smalling plus Cahill’s suspension may have helped the Burnley starlet but his ever so mature performances against Germany and Lithuania will have pushed him close to the front of the queue of centre backs hoping to go to Russia for the 2018 World Cup. The worrying question however is will our “Player of the Week” still be at Turf Moor at that stage of his career?

Tier 11 Club of the Week

Lower Breck FC

Five seasons ago, Lower Breck was a pub team. Known as the “Famous Grapes”, it moved up from the legendary “I Zingari League” and changed its name, linking it to its geographical location. The Lower Breck area of the city is between Walton and Queens Drive and the club now play on a 3G pitch at the Walton Sports Centre at the end of the East Lancs Road or at Lower Breck Playing Fields. Their rise in the last 4 years has been staggering and, currently topping the table, they now have a chance to win the Liverpool County Premier League. They have a 3 point lead, but Aigburth Peoples Hall, champions for the last 3 years have 3 games in hand. The standard of football is high in this league but because the city has such a shortage of private enclosed grounds, the majority of games are played at Sports Centres or Playing Fields. Unless clubs like Lower Breck can find a solution to this problem, promotion which is warranted by level of performance, will always be blocked by failure to meet ground criteria. With 4 games left to play, title success is out of their hands and they will have to depend on other sides beating their Aigburth rivals. Scoring goals however has not been a problem, averaging 4.6 per game and Lower Breck have certainly made their mark at this level of football in 2016-17.

Quiz Answers

1 Billy Hamilton, 2 Connor Ripley, 3 Warrington Town, 4 Barcelona, 5 Matt Phillips,        

6 Republic of Ireland, 7 Emile Heskey, 8 Jason Wilcox, 9 Marouane Fellaini, 10 Emre Can,

Monday, 20 March 2017

The Red Rose Football Blog Number 22

                                   Number 22                        March 20 2017                                                                           

Chelsea v Manchester United; so much to discuss

I was left with all sorts of muddled thoughts after last Monday’s FA Cup Quarter Final. Who were the heroes and who were the villains? Were the sinners also those sinned against? The game was ruined by the sending off. We sometimes see worse fouls go unpunished and the FA needs to have a long look at inconsistent refereeing decisions, but Ander Herrera’s brain must have gone walkabouts. Michael Oliver had just read the riot act to Phil Jones and within moments, the Spanish midfield player, already on a yellow card, committed a completely unnecessary foul. I certainly do not want to see a return to the likes of Ron “Chopper” Harris who roamed the pitches of this country like a hungry T Rex but equally, the referees have a responsibility to the paying public and TV viewers and making fussy decisions is not conducive to retaining their interest in football. If he had walked Herrera away from the melee, shut him up and told him in no uncertain terms that he was now on his very last warning, would it have saved the game as a spectacle and still be strong refereeing? I believe it would, but there was no excuse for the United’s players surrounding and virtually jostling the referee. Along with more technology and sin bins, the game is crying out for 5 yard exclusion zones around referees. So full marks to the FA for charging the club with failing to control its players. From the off, the Reds’ mind set appeared to be to rile Costa and rough up Hazard but this duo do hit the deck rather easily. Interestingly Sky Sports News played a tape the following morning from two seasons back when Mourinho was at Chelsea and he was complaining about the number of times that opposing teams set out their stall to intimidate the Belgian wizard. His words have come back to haunt him and once more, Jose has made a rod for his own back. I do however think that Chelsea fans had no right to call him “Judas”. After all, the Board actually sacked him, he did not leave for greener pastures, but then can you expect considered opinions from moronic supporters? Like him or not, Mourinho is an outstanding manager; the most successful in the history of Chelsea Football Club, a fact their supporters to a man ought to recognise. Of course, lest we forget, there was a football match going on and the West Londoners are a most impressive outfit. They appear to be devoid of weaknesses and United would have struggled with eleven men. Sadly “us Northerners” will have to accept that the Premier League title is London bound. As for the FA Cup, the Sky Blues alone carry our hopes. Fingers crossed it could it be a repeat of the 1981 final; City v Spurs, with no Ricky Villa and a different result.

An England XI, selected from Red Rose County clubs

Following last week’s article on a “Red Rose County Representative XI”, it has been suggested that I look at a current England XI from the same area, so here goes.

Tom Heaton

Nathan Clyne, Michael Keane, John Stones, Leighton Baines

Adam Lallana, Jordan Henderson, Ross Barclay, Raheem Sterling,

Marcus Rashford, Andre Gray,


Jason Steele, Chris Smalling, Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones, Michael Carrick, James Milner, Gareth Barry,

Captain Jordan Henderson                     Manager Sean Dyche
The Premier League lacks English players, particularly at goal keeper and up front. I also did not want to select anyone who makes infrequent club appearances. As a result I chose Blackburn’s Jason Steele (capped at U/21 level) as second keeper and ignored Luke Shaw, Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge, preferring regular club starters Gray and Baines.
Player Representation per club
Starting XI
Manchester City
Manchester United
Blackburn Rovers


                                        Jordan Henderson; the obvious selection as captain

Performances of the last week

Gillingham 0 Bolton Wanderers 4 EFL Division 1

A second consecutive haul of 4 goals is certainly noteworthy, particularly when both are away from home and the Wanderers are well and truly back to their best. Equally of note was the performance of Filipe Morais. The winger produced the assists for all 4 goals, each one a cross which David Wheater, Adam le Fondre, Mark Beevers and Josh Vela converted.
Manchester United 1 Rostov 0 (Europa League, Round of the last 16)
It is the result that counts, even though it was United’s fourth unimpressive performance on the bounce since winning the EFL Cup at the end of February. Juan Mata scored his 10th goal of the season (the £89 million Pogba has 4) to give the Old Trafford faithful something to enthuse about as they qualified to play Anderlecht from Brussels in the quarter finals.

Manchester City 1 Liverpool 1 (Premier League)

Full marks to both sides for producing a cracker-jack of a game, but it was a bad result for the North West. I honestly did not mind which one of these giants won, as long as there was a victor; thus applying a final touch of Red Rose pressure to Chelsea. Unfortunately it is now game over and if we are not careful, it could be a London 1-2. Perish the thought!

Newport County 1 Blackpool 3

In less than perfect conditions at Rodney Parade, Blackpool skipped away to a 2 goal lead with scores from Bright Osayi-Samuel and a Mark Cullen penalty. A late rally put the Tangerines under late pressure but a bizarre second from Osayi-Samuel put the game beyond doubt; the keeper, having gone up for a corner, was unable to get back in time.
On the Non-league scene, National League Barrow came from behind to beat Dagenham & Redbridge 2-1, keeping their faint hopes of a Play-Off place alive. In the National League North, AFC Fylde’s 2 -2 draw with closest rivals Kidderminster Harriers and Salford’s 1-1 draw with Stockport County strengthened their positions. Northern Premier League Ashton United stayed in mid-table following a 1-0 victory over Matlock Town and Warrington Town won their 4th straight game to move into 4th place thanks to a Daniel Hattersley goal, although they have played more games than their rivals. In the Northern Premier League 1 North, Lancaster City narrowly beat Tadcaster Albion 1-0 to stay level at the top, but 3rd placed Trafford dropped 2 points in a 2-2 draw with Ramsbottom United, Rammy’s Lee Gaskell converting 2 penalties. In the North West Counties Premier League, Atherton Collieries remain top after a 1-0 win at Maine Road but the shock of the weekend was Barnoldswick Town’s 4-3 win at the high-flying Runcorn Town. In Division 1, Litherland REMYCA and City of Liverpool defeated Silsden and FC Oswestry Town respectively to stay in 1st and 2nd places in the League. Finally Mossley Hill Athletic from Liverpool moved to the top of the West Cheshire League by defeating the previous incumbent Rainhill Town 3-0.

Games to look forward to this week

Bury v Fleetwood (EFL Division 1) Saturday March 25, 15.00
Bury, fresh from a fighting goal-less draw at Millwall where keeper Joe Murphy’s display was described as stunning, are now up to 17th place. They could yet be relegation contenders but the new manager has turned around their season and suddenly they are extremely difficult to beat. Fleetwood have had a mini-stumble and dropped to 3rd place, one point away from an automatic promotion place. The play-offs are a lottery and bear little correlation to previous form so 3 points will mean so much for the Cod Army at Gigg Lane.
Oldham Athletic v Sheffield United (EFL Division 1) Saturday March 25, 15.00
The high-rollers are paying a visit to Boundary Park and it ought to be the Latics’ highest gate of the season. The Blades have all but sewn up promotion but Oldham. although much improved under John Sheridan, are still having to look over their shoulder as they move into the final stages of what has been a dog fight since day one. They will not lie down, it will be a battle for 90 minutes and a point will probably be gratefully received.
Blackpool v Hartlepool United (EFL Division 2) Saturday March 25, 15.00
The Tangerines have suddenly found some consistency, something that the fans have been demanding all season. Following an 8 game unbeaten run, the play-offs are now within touching distance but Gary Bowyer has injuries to cope with. Hartlepool are poor away from home and Blackpool ought to win this game; in fact they have to win. It is as simple as that. 

Brad Potts; his return to form has coincided with Blackpool’s promotion charge
Chorley v Curzon Ashton (National League North) Saturday March 25, 15.00
Back in 1990, Chorley were relegated from the Conference (Tier 5), but Matt Jansen has prepared a side ready to return to those lofty heights. AFC Fylde appear to have the top spot at their mercy but Chorley are still in the race for the runners up slot. They did however lose at Harrogate Town on Saturday and Curzon Ashton are much improved. They will provide stubborn opposition but to gain promotion, Chorley must win this home game.

Quiz of the Week (Answers at the foot of the Blog)

                  Each question has a Red Rose County connection

1                    In 1997, John Barnes left Anfield to join which Premier League club?
2                    There are 2 ex-Blackburn Rovers players in the current England squad. One is Michael Keane who was on loan but who is the one time permanent Rover?
3                    There are 2 German managers currently plying their trade in the Red Rose County. Jürgen Klopp and which other?

Jürgen Klopp; one of the few German’s to manage in England

4                    Who played 569 league games for Blackpool and went on to manage the Leeds United side which reached the 1974 final of the European Cup?
5                    Signed from Everton in 2000, which ex-Manchester City player holds 2 unwanted Premier League records. Most own goals and joint most sendings off?
6                    Ricardo Gardner was capped 75 times for Jamaica whilst playing for which Red Rose County club?

                                Ricardo Gardner; captained Jamaica for 4 years  

7                    From 2009-15, which French defender made 159 appearances for Everton?
8                    Who managed Burnley FC when promoted to the Premier League in 2009?
9                    Which club drew at Blackburn 1-1 on May 14 2011 to clinch the Premier League title?
10                The Northern Premier League North clubs, Mossley, Droylsden and Hyde United all have grounds situated in which Greater Manchester Metropolitan Borough?

Post Weekend Musings

Manchester City’s defeat amongst the Monegasque, the millionaires of Monaco, seemed somehow self-inflicted. There is no doubting the class and skill at the Etihad club but they never seem to chase back as fast as they run forward. Hence they were quickly 2-0 down. They came out after the interval with more determination and Sane gave them a life line. They then had to hold firm for 20 minutes and the newly revitalised Leicester for example would have won it from there. City however defend so feebly and it was no surprise when that impressive physical specimen Bakayoko powered home a header from a free kick. Talent is an important asset at a football club but often “guts” is even more important.

John Stones; so much talent but is he consistently tough enough?
There are three interesting Non-League games on Saturday. Marine, struggling to stay in the Northern Premier League for a record 39th consecutive season, travel to Corby Town, one point below them and just above the relegation zone. In the Northern Premier League North, Colne, arguably the Red Rose surprise packet of the season, look to improve on their 5th place as they host a resurgent Colwyn Bay. Finally Bootle accommodate Runcorn Linnets in the North West Counties Premier League match of the day, looking to hang on to the shirt tails of Atherton Collieries at the top of the Division.
Players from our local clubs were amongst the honours when the EFL Teams of the Year were selected. There was nothing for our Championship sides but in League 1, the Oldham goal keeper Connor Ripley, the Fleetwood right back Conor McLaughlin, Bolton centre backs David Wheater and Mark Beevers and Bury striker James Vaughan all made the eleven. In League 2, Blackpool’s Kelvin Mellor and Brad Potts at right back and in midfield respectively gained selection. Congratulations to all seven for flying the Red Rose flag.
Neil Warnock, not everyone’s favourite, claimed to have predicted Warren Joyce’s failure at Wigan Athletic. He argued that there is no comparison between running Manchester United’s reserves in a pressure free zone and the cut and thrust of the Championship where every point counts. Warnock may be right, but I felt sorry for Joyce because Wigan knew what they were buying into but gave him just 4 months to turn the club around. Hopefully his reputation is untarnished and he can return to this level; being far better prepared.

Red Rose County Player of the Week

Romelu Lukaku may be greedy when it comes to contracts but he is a handful on the pitch. They say his first touch is poor, but his physicality, pace, power and deadly finishing was too much for Hull City. With 21 league goals already, he has his eyes set on Gary Lineker’s Premier League record of 30 Everton goals in a season; a worthy Player of the Week.

 Tier 10 Club of the Week

Daisy Hill FC; becalmed at Tier 10 for nigh on 40 years

Daisy Hill sounds like a beauty spot, the place you would take the family for a picnic on an idyllic summer’s day. In actual fact it is a part of Westhoughton which in turn is a small town, part of the sprawling Metropolitan Borough of Bolton. The football club has a long history dating back to 1894 with much success at the lower levels prior to joining the Lancashire Combination in 1978. This league morphed into the North West Counties League in 1982 and amazingly, Daisy Hill has played at Tier 10 for 39 seasons. Their ground, intriguingly named New Sirs, has seen a number of upgrades as the club has developed but seen little success. They finished 4th in 1986, their best season at this level and have finished in one of the two relegation spots on 6 occasions but always avoiding relegation. They have never won an FA Cup game and in 1989 the club changed its name to Westhoughton Town, reverting back to Daisy Hill 5 years later. The club’s colours are all blue from head to toe and the average crowd is 70 per game, not bad for this level. As per the norm; they are currently residing in 16th place in the league, but providing football for the locals to watch.

                   The New Sirs Ground at Daisy Hill

Quiz Answers
1 Newcastle United, 2 Phil Jones, 3 Uwe Rosler, 4 Jimmy Armfield,   5 Richard Dunne,       
6 Bolton Wanderers, 7 Sylvain Distin, 8 Owen Coyle, 9 Manchester United, 10 Tameside,