Away Day Robins
Winsford United - Story 1
The latest trip for the Blackburn and Darwen Robins was the Division Two trophy quarter-final at Winsford.
Before I could collect the lads and lasses I had to get some quality building materials for a job that I was doing at home, so it was straight down to Thomco, who not only supplied me with the right stuff, but were also able to give me plenty of advice. Although Michelle and I had finished work at lunchtime, we couldn’t set off until tea-time as Billy ‘The Kid’ and Jimmy ‘Mad Dog’ were at school. I had a bundle of work to do for the following Saturday’s programme and I had a problem with my computer so my mate Seamus said that I could use his. When I saw the monitor, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“Seamus, what’s all this white stuff all over it, I can’t even see the screen?”
“Well, Oi keeps makin’ mistakes and de whoyte blobs arr tipex!”
After tea I picked up Michelle, Billy and Jimmy and we set off for poshest Cheshire. We made it to Winsford in plenty of time so Jimmy asked if we could stop at a newsagents for his ‘Mag’. Now if you can remember, we played Winsford in the Vase last year and we had a problem with Jimmy not being able to reach the ‘top-shelf’. On that occasion I had to get it for him-most embarrassing! Luckily for him, he’s grown a few inches and was able to get his favourite mag. down himself, but when he got to the counter, the owner refused to sell it to him as he wasn’t 18. Once again I had to ‘do the honours’. There was an old lady at the counter who took one look at the ‘publication’ in my hand and launched an attack!
“You filthy pervert!” She shouted.
“But it’s not mine Madam, it’s his,” I said pointing to an innocent looking Jimmy.
“You animal!” She screamed, continuing her verbal assault on me.
“That’s terrible trying to blame that poor sweet lad.”
And with that, she whalloped me round the lug-hole with a rolled up copy of the Pensioners Voice! I made a hasty exit leaving the mag. on the counter and the old codger still ranting and raving behind me.
We made it to the ground with five minutes to spare and decided that a Bovril and a pie was more apt than a pint as it was freezing cold-and so was the pie! The game kicked off in front of a very sparse crowd, about a dozen of whom were from Harwood. It was a close game with very little to choose between the sides, but after about 30 minutes Winsford made the breakthrough with a Neil Kennedy own goal. In his determination to be the first to a right wing cross, he stretched for the ball with the intention of putting it out for a corner. With Sam Pope playing superbly well on the left wing we always looked capable of getting a goal ourselves but more often than not , we were stopped by the dreadful playing surface rather than the home defence.
Into the 2nd half we upped the tempo and it seemed only a matter of time before we equalised. 20 minutes from the end it came after Sam cut in from the wing, waltzed round a couple of defenders and leathered the ball goalwards. The keeper couldn’t hold the shot and Paul Mashiter, who’s on a great run of form at the moment, slotted home. Both sides went for the win and Bobby had to be alert on a couple of occasions to keep us in it. Seeing as I told the lads’ parents that we’d be home by 10-30, and us Posties are up at 4-30, extra time is exactly what we didn’t want. No matter which side was attacking at the end, we were pleading with them to stick it in the ‘onion bag’. The full time whistle blew and the prospect of another 30 minutes in the sub-zero temperatures did not fill us with joy.
During the extra-time we heard differing stories of whether there would be penalties or a replay (just like the Nelson game), and after no further scoring. The Ref., linesmen, players and officials ‘argued the toss’ for the next 20 minutes while we almost froze to death. Despite the small attendance, the Ref. was given plenty of encouragement to ‘bloody well get on wi’ it’. Finally just before midnight, penalties were taken. Bob saved one of the five-rubbish Harris! While their keeper saved two. Winsford went on a lap of honour but before the players had left the field, the P.A. announced that there would be a replay-Hooray! The Harwood players went on a lap of honour! Although the Trophy is not the priority this season, whoever represents the club in the cup games, are really pulling out all the stops to win every game, home or away, Trophy, Cup or Vase. Well done everybody, you’re a credit to Great Harwood Town F.C. and so are the loyal fans who travel to away games.
Set off for home after we’d all got in touch with our next of kin before they phoned the Missing Persons Bureau. On the way Billy spoke to his girlfriend on the phone.
“See you tomorrow Pet, bye.”
“Ah, that’s nice Billy, is that her ‘pet-name’?
“NO WAY!” Retorted the aggrieved young lad.
“I call her that because she’s got a face like a dog!”
Dropped everyone off, made myself something to eat, had a wash, brushed my teeth, went to bed for 10 minutes then got up for work!! If you missed it, you missed another great day out, and a game which they’ll be talking about for years to come. Which team won the 2nd Division Trophy after ‘losing’ on penalties in the quarter-final? After the 3-1 win in the replay you’ve got to believe that our name is on the Trophy.
Winsford United - Story 2
The latest trip for the famous Blackburn & Darwen Robins was the away game at Winsford United. Having already been there once this season, for the Division Two trophy game when we ‘lost’ on penalties, we didn’t have to set off too early in order to find the ground. Jimmy ‘Mad Dog’ and Billy ‘The Kid’ Hughes, came round to my house and we picked up Big Dave outside the Rovers.
Set off for poshest Cheshire at 1-30 but not before we’d de-toured to Great Harwood where I got hold of some building supplies from the ever-reliable Thomco Building Supplies on Delph Lane.
Reached the outskirts of Winsford with plenty of time to spare so we decided to go for a pint. Seeing as Michelle wasn’t with us, I was quite optimistic about getting served.
“Four pints please landlord,” said Big Dave, “And four spud pies.” “Sorry squire,” replied our host, “We stopped serving food five minutes ago.”
Big Dave went mad, he was as angry as a wasp with a toothache. “WHAT, NO B****Y PIES, WE’RE NOT STAYING HERE!!”
Blimey O’Reilly, it’s usually the landlord who bars us!
Got to the ground and as we entered there was a double whammy of disappointment for Dave. Firstly it was a whopping £5 to get in, then, as anyone who’s been to Winsford knows, the turnstiles are the narrowest in the league and Dave got wedged in! Luckily there were two turnstiles in operation, so as the fire brigade were cutting Dave out of one, the supporters were able to use the other.
We only just had time to put the flag up when a great shot by Foggy from the edge of the area gave us an early lead. With a strong wind behind us, we felt sure that we would be able to press home our advantage and have the game sewn up by half time. Not only did we fail miserably to finish the hosts off, they started to create the odd chance and half way through the first period, an unmarked Winsford player volleyed into the net from ten yards. Right on half time, the hosts right back, who’d had a good game overlapping down the right wing, fell down a hole, a-la-Sam Pope, and had to be carried form the field with what looked like tendon or ligament trouble. The poor chap was eventually taken to hospital in an ambulance.
The second half was even worse as both sides continued to struggle to put more than two passes together. Winsford created a few half chances which luckily for us, all went whizzing just wide. For the Robins, man-of-the-match Neil Zarac ran himself into the ground in an effort to secure all three points but in truth we deserved no more than one.
The most exciting thing to happen was a melee near the half way line when a Winsford goomer who had been fouling for the whole game, gave James Dean a belt. Deano did very well by not reacting but other players from both sides came rushing in and plenty of pushing and shoving was dished out. The ref. for some reason, felt it necessary to ask the liner what had happened, and then proceeded to send the wrong Winsford player off, although he was a dirty so and so as well. One of our substitutes, who shall remain nameless, expecting a similar red card, was already half way down the tunnel when the man in black sent Deano off!! Where do they get ‘em?
After that the game petered out and the final whistle was a relief to the small band of Harwood supporters.
On the way out, Big Dave was verbally assaulted by the last known survivor from the Napoleonic wars. Dave mentioned something about senile dementia and the old goat went crackers! I can’t repeat what he said but he put his bath chair into first gear and followed Dave into the car park. It was only the intervention of the guy’s 97 year-old son which prevented a fight breaking out. And I thought that they were supposed to be posh down Winsford way.
On the way home Billy’s phone was surprisingly quiet.
“What’s up Billy, are you not going to ring your girlfriend up like normal and have a chat?”
“No,” said our love-struck teenage chum, “I haven’t spoken to her for a week now.”
“Oh dear, what’s up, have you had a row?”
“No, I don’t want to interrupt her!”
And they say that romance is dead!
Winsford United - Story 3
The second away trip of the season for the Blackburn and Darwen Robins was the Vase tie at Winsford.
Dave and I went down to your fantastic money saving Co op Superstore in Harwood to stock up on beer and we then went to Junction 4 to wait for the team coach. There we waited…and waited…and had just about given up when John Eastham turned up in his car to give us a lift-the coach apparently going on a tour of Lancashire to pick up the players.
The game began well for Winsford and it soon became obvious that they were a half decent side, knocking the ball about with confidence and using the width of the pitch to great effect. We seemed to have settled down when a defensive blunder let the home side in for number one. No names mentioned but Stevie mis-controlled it. Number two arrived when a clearance traveled about five yards before landing at the feet of a Winsford forward. Not wishing to ‘grass’ anyone up, I’ll just give his first name, O.K. Riz?
Despite our best efforts in the second half, we couldn’t get the goal we fought for and when someone left his marker for dead it was 3-0-John, we know it was you! The Robins really took the game to Winsford in the last 20 minutes and their ‘keeper made two one-on-one saves from Chris, who also put a header wide from only a few yards. Sean mis-kicked from around ten yards out and the ‘keeper, who ended up being Winsford’s man of the match, made several fine saves.
Even so, it was as much Winsford taking their foot off the pedal as us playing great football, and overall we were beaten by the better side. Of the three main competitions, F.A. Cup, F.A. Vase and League, this was the least important and Winsford are as strong as any club entering the Vase this year, expect them to go all the way to Villa Park.
Join us for the next trip and remember..............................
Rally round the robins!