This blog deals exclusively with one of the major footballing strongholds in England; Lancashire, the Red Rose County. This is approximate to the pre-1974 Lancashire county, stretching from Yorkshire to the coast, from the South Lakes to the Mersey. It covers the clubs from the Premier League down to tier 11 which includes the premier divisions of the West Lancs, Manchester and Liverpool County leagues.
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
Red Rose Football Blog (Number 26)
months; where did it all go?
It seems only the other day but it was actually October 25th
when I sent out my first Blog by email to about a dozen friends and football
fanatics. Thanks to all of you who have read and commented on it and the
circulation figure has grown somewhat. There is much that I ought to have done
to improve the presentation and certainly to have publicised it far more, but
hopefully it has caught your interest and perhaps added to your football
education. I have learnt so much about the game in the Red Rose County area and
realised just what a hot bed of football it is. Surprisingly, items about the
smallest of clubs (e.g. Turton and Daisy Hill) have attracted responses, all of
which proves (to coin a hackneyed phrase) that there is much more to football
than the Premier League and the Championship. Thanks again for your interest; the
plan is to keep it going over the summer, so you won’t get rid of me yet and
hopefully the Blog will have improved by the time we kick-off again in August.
For those of you who are not sure about the exact location of
my mythical “Red Rose County”, it is within the pre-1974 Lancashire boundary.
From the South Lakes to the Mersey and from the Yorkshire border to the Irish
Sea (see pink outline below).
it’s always make or break time
results of the Bank Holiday Easter fixtures have always been a pointer to the
winners and losers in an English football season. The crowds come out and the
three day gap between the Good Friday and Easter Monday makes for a nail-biting
period for fans. This year, Easter is late with scarcely any opportunity for a
come-back from disastrous results, particularly in the EFL and the non-league
world. The Premier League with around 15% of the season remaining is the exception
to the rule. Nonetheless, our best clubs are faced with a breath taking rush of
matches in the FA Cup, European competitions and full-on twice weekly league
fixtures which determine the history making sides and the clubs which
ignominiously slither out of the league. In terms of the Red Rose County, we
need the two Manchester clubs to bring home the silverware; City in the FA Cup
and United in the Europa League. Liverpool can show their improvement by
qualifying for the Champions’ League. For our clubs in Tiers 2 – 10, the chart
below explains clearly which teams still live in hope of promotion. For those
at the other end of the table, it shows (to put it in biblical terms) those
facing crucifixion and those still in hope of resurrection.
Who is going up and going
down in Tiers 1 to 10
Teams close to going down:-Tier 2Wigan
Athletic (most probably), Blackburn
Rovers (possibly). Tier 3Bury
(50/50). Tier 10Ashton Town (probably).
Relegated:-Tier 5Southport, Tier 7Skelmersdale
United, Tier 8Burscough, Tier
close to automatic promotion:-Tier 3 Bolton Wanderers (probably), Fleetwood Town (just possibly). Tier 6 AFC Fylde (probably), Tier 8 Lancaster City (possibly) Tier 9 Atherton Collieries (probably) Bootle (possibly) Tier 10 Charnock Richard (probably) Widnes (possibly), Litherland REMYCA (possibly).
Play–Offs:- Tier 3 Bolton Wanderers (definitely), Fleetwood Town (definitely), Rochdale (just possibly). Tier 4Blackpool (possibly), Accrington Stanley (just possibly).
Tier 6AFC Fylde (definitely), Chorley (probably), Salford City (possibly). Tier 8Lancaster City (definitely), Colne (probably), Trafford (possibly), Tier 10Charnock
Richard (definitely), Widnes (definitely)
City of Liverpool (definitely) Litherland REMYCA (definitely).
Parkinson; saw Colchester into the Championship, can he repeat the feat with
their best XI
The Goodison Park club has been resident in
the top strand of English football since 1954, so the best ever side is going
to be picked from that date onwards.
(League appearances for club in
brackets, minimum games 100)
Coleman Brian Labone Kevin Ratcliffe Ray Wilson
(206) (451) (348) (116)
Steven Peter Reid Alan Ball Kevin Sheedy
(159) (208) (274)
Lukaku Joe Royle
Brian LaboneManager Howard KendalSubstitutes, Gordon
West, Gary Stevens, Graeme Sharpe, Bob Latchford, Howard Kendall, Roy Vernon
and Alex Young
Wilson was aged 29 when he signed from Huddersfield Town in 1964. He played in
all of England’s game in the 1962 and 1966 World Cups, being the first player
to win a World Cup and FA Cup winners medal in the same season. Arsenal players
Viera and Petit (1998) and Ozil and Mertesacker (2014) have equalled the feat.
Wilson with the Jules Rimet Trophy in English football’s finest hour
Performances of the
Both Liverpool and Manchester
City won away from home in the Premier League to preserve their Champions’
League places over the weekend, but it is Manchester United who deserve the plaudits. The
2-0 win over Chelsea ensured that United are still very much in the race for a European
place. A precise finish from the lightning fast Marcus Rashford and a massively
ricocheted effort from Ander Herrera were far too much for a strangely
ineffective Chelsea side. It is no picnic going to the Hawthorns but Liverpool
stayed strong in a mainly midfield battle and Roberto Firmino headed in a James
Milner free kick to secure the points. City are back to their best and although
Southampton pressed hard and saw a lot of the ball in the first half, the
second period was a different story. It was good to see Vincent Kompany back in
the side and on the scoresheet as the Sky Blues coasted to a 3-0 away victory.
What a pity that these three tremendous results have come too late to bring the
title back to the north.
Wigan Athletic, with 3 late goals from Nick Powell defeated
Barnsley 3-2 at home to initially rekindle their faint hopes of Championship
survival but a predictable 2-1 loss at Brighton scuppers almost any hope of
staying up. It was nearly a case of “heads always wins” for Blackburn Rovers as
headed goals from Tommy Hoban, in a 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest and Sam Gallagher,
in the 1-1 home draw v Bristol City mean they live to fight another day.
In League 1, Bolton Wanderers’ 1-0
defeat at Oldham Athletic has given
Fleetwood Town half a chance of automatic promotion following odd goal wins at
Peterborough and at home to Millwall. Rochdale won twice over Easter to offer a
slim chance of the Play-Offs, an Ian Henderson brace seeing off the already
relegated Coventry City while a Callum Camps free kick was too much for Bury.
At the bottom, Oldham are almost safe in spite of losing to 1-0 to Bristol
Rovers but Bury sit one place and one point above the relegation places.
Having gone 9 games without a
win, Morecambe caused an upset when
travelling to high-flying Stevenage and coming away with a 1-0 victory. Lee
Molyneux once again scored a vital away goal which has surely cemented their
place in League
2 for next season. The real newsworthy items however concern Blackpool and Accrington Stanley who fought out a goalless draw at Bloomfield Road
on Friday. Both clubs won on Monday. Stanley defeated Crawley 1-0 at home, the
Tangerines winning by the same margin at promoted Doncaster. With 3 to play,
Blackpool are back in the final play-off spot whereas Stanley on a 15 game
unbeaten run stand just 2 points behind.
In the National League North, leaders AFC Fylde stuttered once more, rescuing
a late 1-1 draw against lowlyBradford
Park Avenue. The club is still favourite for automatic promotion while Chorley
and Salford City each won 1-0 against Stalybridge Celtic and Curzon Ashton
respectively, both strengthening their hold on the Play-Off places. Warrington Town’s faint Play-Off hopes
came to nothing, drawing 1-1 at home to Ashton
United in the Northern Premier League. In spite of losing
2-0 at Prescot Cables in mid-week, Lancaster City once more sit on top of Division 1,
courtesy of a Jordan Connerton hat-trick in their 3-0 win over Kendal. Atherton Collieries came out of the
Easter weekend in fine style following a 2-1 away win at 1874 Northwich and a
thumping 5-1 home victory over AFC
Darwen. Two wins from their final three games will see them as Champions of
West Counties Premier League with Bootle, winners over AFC Liverpool and Nelson the only realistic
challengers. In Division 2 Charnock Richard continue to lead the way with
conclusive wins over Prestwich Heys and Sandbach, with Widnes odds on to join
them in automatic promotion.
to look forward to this week
To steal a line from the Sky
Sports publicity machine, what a line up for “Super Sunday”. It kicks-off with Burnley v Manchester United, the follow up is the FA Cup Semi-Final between Arsenal
and Manchester City and the final
game is Liverpool v Crystal Palace.
The Wembley fixture ought to be a walk in the park for City on current form,
but no-one remembers semi-final losers so surely Arsenal will stir themselves
and make this a match to remember between two technically gifted football
teams. In the two Premier Leaguefixtures, the Merseysiders will
not have it all their own way against an Allardyce revitalised Crystal Palace,
particularly as they need every available point to win the three way shoot-out
for places 3 and 4. In one sense it is easier for Jose Mourinho, having two
routes available for the same prize. On the other hand however, he is fighting
a war on two fronts and juggling the energy capabilities of his squad is a
problem on its own. He requires a sufficiently strong eleven to defeat
Anderlecht on Thursday in the Europa League and then find a fit enough squad
to combat the physicality of what will be an extremely well-prepared Burnley
side on Sunday.
Another game, another Cup Final
for Blackburn Rovers in the Championship.
The Rovers are ravaged by injuries and so poor in midfield. They probably need to
win 2 out of 3 to survive and they will have to scrap at Wolverhampton
Wanderers in a game between Paul Lambert’s past and present clubs.
League 1 has a plot equal in
complexity to a Sherlock Holmes novel as all five Red Rose County clubs are
still fighting to either go up or fend off relegation and whose fate is
intertwined with that of a near neighbour. Bolton
Wanderers play tonight at Bury
(too late for inclusion in the Blog) and are at home to Port Vale on Saturday
where they can give a lift to Bury (who are at home to Northampton Town at
weekend) by beating The Shakers’ closest rivals for the drop. The Wanderers
basically need 2 wins out of 3 to gain automatic promotion, thus forcing Fleetwood Town (away at Gillingham) down
to the Play-Offs. Confused? I haven’t
finished yet so read on. Rochdale’s
faint Play-Off hopes rest on winning both games and then depending on other
results. They are at Oldham Athletic
on Saturday for the “El Flatcapico”; a game the Latics will be desperate to win
to confirm their safety.
The situation in League 2
is equally intriguing as both Blackpool
and Accrington Stanley chase the Play-Offs.
The Tangerines host lowly Cheltenham and Stanley travel to Wales to face 23rd
placed Newport County who shipped 6 goals at Plymouth on Monday. Both opponents
can still survive so our two clubs will have to give everything, because dropping
points at this stage can be terminal.
On the Non-League scene, wins for
AFC Fylde at Boston and Chorley at Gloucester City will give
the title for the Coasters and a Play-Off spot for the Magpies with a game to
spare in the National
League North. Salford City
may have to wait another week to join Chorley, even if they win at Worcester
City. Similarly, in the Northern Premier League 1 North’s final
fixtures of the season, wins for Lancaster
City at Glossop North End and Colne
at home to Droylsden will crown a new Champion and produce a Play-Off place
respectively. To join them, Trafford
have to win at Ossett Town and hope that Scarborough Athletic fail to gain 3
points at Colwyn Bay. Atherton
Collieries need to continue their winning run at Winsford United to take
their penultimate step to promotion from the North West Counties Premier League.
All Bootle can do is win at Abbey Hey and hope the “Colls” slip up
along the way. The biggest game of the day is arguably at Widnes where the top two meet, a shoot-out with Charnock Richard to determine the final
resting place for the North West Counties League 1 title. Finally
with the rumour that there may only be one side promoted from Tier 11, a win at
St Helens on Thursday evening may
just help Ashton Town to stave off
Quiz of the Week
(Answers at the foot of the Blog)
Each question has a Red Rose County connection
1Only 2 current
Premier League managers have actually played in the Premier League. Slaven Bilic
at West Ham and who else?
Slaven Bilic; played for West Ham,
managed West Ham
2Who was the last
English manager to win a European Club Trophy (Champions League, UEFA Cup, Cup
Winners Cup or Europa league) with an English club?
3Who is the only
player with a Red Rose County club to be nominated for the PFA Player of the
Year award in 2017?
United player topped the 2002-03 Premier league goal scoring charts?
5Jim and Jeff
Whitley, brothers who both represented Norther Ireland around the turn of the
Millennium, played for which current Premier League club?
6Liverpool’s Sadio Mane
holds the record for the Premier League’s fastest ever hat-trick, achieved when
at Southampton. He took the record from which 1995 Liverpool striker?
7Oldham manager John
Sheridan scored the winning goal in the 1991 League Cup Final for which club?
8Who did Burnley sell
to Liverpool in 2015 and has only played 6 times because of injury?
leading all-time scorer Benni McCarthy played 109 games for which Premier League
team between 2006 and 2010?
Benni McCarthy in his South African strip
during the 2010 World Cup
League North club play at Victory Park?
It is topical, although completely irrelevant to Thursday but in
1956, Manchester United played their
first home European tie; the visitors being Anderlecht. Having won the first
leg 2-0 in Brussels, they thrashed the Belgians 10-0 at Old Trafford, still the
club’s record win. This was the Busby babes of course, Champions of England and,
but for the air disaster, probable Champions of Europe. Of the goal scorers,
only Denis Violet ever played again post Munich. Taylor and Whelan sadly died
and Berry was forced to retire from the game.
How on earth was David Silva missing from the PFA nomination list for
Player of the Season? The Manchester
City play maker has consistently cut defences to ribbons and it is easy to
forget that he is close to completing 7 years in the Premier League. Such
loyalty to a club from a foreign star is rare, a throwback perhaps to an age
where players were simply happy to play for good clubs, not chasing “fast
bucks” wherever they are offered.
It was a relief to see Ross Barkley perform well in front of
his home supporters on Saturday. The Everton
midfield player has had a dreadful month, being criticised by his manager,
ignored by Gareth Southgate, beaten up in a bar and likened to a “gorilla” by
the “Sun”. The Blues are a well-run club, not taken to making snap judgements
so when it bans a publication; you know the club and the player have been hurt
in the extreme.
AFC Fylde’s leading goal scorer Danny
Rowe has amassed 44 league goals, twice as many as Tamworth’s Dan Newton in
second place. It is his 3rd season with the Coasters having joined from
Macclesfield. He previously played for Stockport County in the Football League
and in three seasons at Fylde he has netted 99 times; can he make the ton
before the season ends?
It is fair to assume that any side
which has scored just 30 goals in 44 games would be rock bottom of the league
and planning for life in a lower division next season. Not so if the club in
question is Oldham Athletic. On the credit side it has conceded a mere 43,
fewer than runaway leaders Sheffield United. Goal keeper Connor Ripley, a full
season loanee from Middlesbrough has kept 17 clean sheets; a contributory
factor to a relatively safe 17th spot.
Connor Ripley: son of Premier league winner Stuart (pictured on the day he signed
his loan deal)
Nick Powell netted three times at the DW
Stadium against Barnsley…. after coming on as a substitute. It was the first
Wigan Athletic hat trick since Jordi Gomez in 2012 but Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer
scored 4 after coming on as a late “sub” for United against Notts Forest in their treble winning
Red Rose County Player
of the Week
Ander Herrera, Manchester
The Spaniard performed magnificently at Old Trafford on
Sunday, the often unsung ex-Athletic Bilbao player completely marking Eden
Hazard out of the game. He did however have “Lady Luck” with him as well. He
handled before setting up Rashford with an exquisite through ball for the Red’s
opener and then his speculative second half shot pin-balled off a couple of
defenders and past Courtois for the game clinching second. Notwithstanding the
element of good fortune, he certainly made the difference in helping United win
the midfield battle and is a worthy recipient of the Player of the Week award.
Tier 10 Club of the Week
Widnes is another of those towns in and around the M62
corridor which is most famous for its rugby league club. The football club was
only founded in 2003 and it has had a tremendous effect on the youngsters of
the Halton Borough, providing soccer for hundreds of children. In 2012 they
decided to move the club on and its senior side entered the West Cheshire
League. Because of their outstanding facilities, they were quickly admitted to
the North West Counties League Division 1 where, for the next 3 seasons, the
results were quite mediocre. This season however, under the managership of Joey
Dunn, they are seriously challenging for the promotion, having won their last 9
games. Widnes FC is based at the Select Security Stadium, an all seater ground
covered on all sides. It is shared with Widnes Vikings Rugby League club and
both the football and rugby teams play in the traditional white shirts, long
associated with great rugby XIIIs of the past. With automatic promotion seeming
very possible, it will be interesting to follow their progress. Can they build
a successful football tradition in what is traditionally oval ball territory?
The famous white shirts of Widnes,
this time proudly worn by the football team
Mark Hughes,2Howard Kendall, 3
Romelu Lukaku, 4 van Nistelrooy, 5 Manchester City,
Robbie Fowler, 7 Sheffield Wednesday, 8 Danny Ings, 9 Blackburn Rovers, 10 Chorley