Wednesday, 30 September 2015

30/09/15 Review: Kidsgrove Athletic vs Tividale

Kidsgrove Athletic 4-0 Tividale (Evo-Stik First Division South)
The Novus Stadium

I would like to start this, my 10th Blog entry, by thanking anybody and everybody who has read any Pint of Football entry, anybody who has followed my new Twitter page and of course the few who have accompanied me to games and supported the Blog so far (Will Clark, Sophie Dibbens and Partizan Bristle's Tom Meadowcroft surely must be fed up of me by now!). I am pleased with the amount of views that my entries have been receiving and hope to carry on spreading my fun-filled hours of Football up and down the country.

This evening was another mid-week solo effort which saw me jumping in to my car and heading to yet another local team, hoping to experience the thrill of yet another non-league team. Just outside of Stoke-on-Trent, I found myself in the small town of Kidsgrove ready for a resurgent Athletic taking on bottom of the League Tividale. In the 5 years I have lived in Stoke I have only had two encounters with Kidsgrove; the first was after a Stag party in Crewe where the bus, originally heading for Stoke, ended up stopping at Kidsgrove instead and leaving me stranded. The second was directly related to the football team, as me and my mate Will pushed the Kidsgrove Athletic Football Club minibus down a snowy A500 after they broke down. On this particular evening, we were stood outside my old uni accommodation waiting to see if a Chinese takeaway we had ordered would be able to make it in the heavy snow. Whilst waiting, we looked on to the dual carriageway to see a minibus skidding to a halt. The players hopped out of the bus and started to push, to which we decided to jump on to the empty road and give them a shove. Apparently they were the only non-league match in the whole country not to be postponed that day, because the opposition in the Birmingham area played on a plastic pitch. Ahh memories- anyway, that was off-topic, back to the present day.

It's Wednesday night and I'm at the Grove, don't believe me just read
As far as turning things around go, Kidsgrove Athletic are certainly a team in good form at the minute. After picking up just 3 points and failing to win in their first 6 League matches, the Grove had managed to get back on their feet with 3 wins and 13 goals in an attempt to climb back up to where they are expecting to be come the end of the season. With a home game against the side propping up the table at the moment, I had to predict a win for Kidsgrove- 3-1 was what I'd gone with based on the goal spree of the past few matches. In the 'Southern' equivalent of the game I attended last week, which saw a poor 0-0 between Scarborough Athletic and Glossop North End, I felt a much friendlier atmosphere as I entered the ground today.

Blues vs Reds
The stadium was very well presented; with a vast amount of seating, a nice distribution of fans around the main stand and of course the delightful smell of chips and burgers on the grill in the food hut. Alongside this was a very smart clubhouse and even a VIP area above the seating area which I can only describe as an "upstairs patio area".

Very posh- deck chairs and all
The squads were mainly filled with unknowns to my limited non-league knowledge, with only two Kidsgrove players registering in my mind. Up top for the Grove was Nick Wellecomme, a player who is known in the Midlands having played for Stafford, Hednesford and Newcastle Town in his career. The other was Will Bailey, a young lad who Kidsgrove have loaned from my beloved Macclesfield Town, starting on the bench tonight. After the sides came out and the players shook hands, the game was under way and the crowd seemed very subdued. As I had a glance over I realised that this was because everybody was preoccupied by the bargain of the day- a tray of chips for a quid! I myself only had £1 on me following the purchase of the ticket and programme, which would surely be saved for a half-time beverage of some description. On the pitch there was some good, flowing football and both sides actually looked to be competent on the ball, a skill which is often unavailable to the lower leagues. However, the sides began to duel and it soon became clear that there would be goals to come. Just 5 minutes in both sides had already mustered up a half-chance and I was already impressed by Ant Malbon upfront for the Grove. 

At the games I attend on my own, I always do my best to listen in to the crowds' conversations and where possible, get involved. The couple who were sitting to my right-hand side were talking to another chap about one of the Tividale players, before the first man told the other that they used to play together at Redditch for a while. He then carried on to tell anybody who could hear about how he had also played for Kidderminster and Stafford in the past- impressive. After this exchange I turned my ears back to the pitch to hear a local fan shout to the linesman, "Oi! Shift up lino, you're blocking my view". If there was one thing which made being a linesman on a cold Staffordshire evening worse, it was receiving constant feedback from the home support. As the game continued, a different lad shouted "that's a disgrace, lino" about a clearly correct offside call. With over half an hour on the clock Kidsgrove started to dominate and get closer to goal. A couple of 20-30 yard strikes went close and then a third long-ranger led to the opener. A centre-mid struck a sweet hit from about 25 yards, which the keeper saved, but padded back out to an onrushing Wellecomme. Grove 1-0 Tividale. Not much else came from the first-half, apart from at least 10 people re-entering and asking around if they had missed anything. (Note to self, do not go to the toilet just before half-time, you are bound to miss a goal!) One man asked me the terribly awkward question which no ground hopper wants to hear, "Who scored, mate?". I just looked at him and said that it was a rebound- and luckily the tannoy announced the goal and saved any embarrassment of me not knowing every Kidsgrove player. That brought me to half-time following a good first-half!

I found a blue tractor at half-time, 'Pint of Football Moment' for sure!
After going past the blue tractor I headed to the clubhouse, knowing full well that my £1 coin would not get me even half a pint. After absorbing a bit more atmosphere and local conversation I headed back to the food hut and picked up a can of Tango Orange before taking my seat again ready for hopefully more action. Just before the restart I left my seat for a matter of seconds to put my empty can in the bin, only to be greeted with two old legends sat where I was. I didn't mind, I was just amazed about how quickly they had appeared. Little did I know at the time, but these two guys would prove to be great commentary throughout the second-half.

Cliff and Bry- a true comedy duo
I made light of them taking my seat, by commenting on how good a view it was from here. They agreed- and when Bry went to grab a coffee he even asked his mate to save his seat for him, before smiling at me. I knew that these golden oldies would provide some top banter to compliment the attacking football on display. A couple of bookings were dished out to Tividale players, with the striker for Tivi being deemed lucky to remain on the pitch after a scrap with a Kidsgrove player. Fans claim the forward spat in the face of his opponent, from my view it looked like he tried to bite his nose. Either way, the crowd wanted a red- and luckily it wasn't long after that when a second goal was added. Again, it was Wellecomme applying the finish to a truly slick move from the Athletic. Grove 2-0 Tividale. 

The Midlands assassin- Nick Wellecomme
It was obvious from here that the game was sealed in terms of a result, but to their credit both teams carried on as though it was 0-0. Both sides created chances, the subs came on to freshen things up and before I knew it we were into the last 20 minutes. At this point, Cliff decided it was bed time and left the ground- which led Bry to focus his commentary towards me. He started by telling me that Cliff was a Nantwich Town striker back in the day. He recalled a match in which Nantwich won 6-0, with Cliff scoring all 6. He then suggested that they were all "tap ins" and chuckled. As the conversation carried on between me and the gent, he told me of how he used to play for Kidsgrove many years ago, as well as being a club secretary and fulfilling other roles after retirement- what a guy! He asked if I played at all, but I didn't think he would be too impressed to hear about my days of playing for Flamborough 1st's, so I just replied with, "only for local sides". Back to the pitch and the game was sealed with an absolute corker of a strike from substitute Dan Skelton. A cracking 25-yarder nestled into the away goal. Grove 3-0 Tividale. Even Bry had to admit that one was a "good" goal. Shortly after, yet another was added as the Captain stamped his seal on the match with a nice finish from the left-wing. Grove 4-0 Tividale. This fourth goal signalled the departure of my new mate, who said he was going to beat the crowds by leaving early. I did admire the man, who attends Port Vale and Nantwich when they play at home, and as he left, most of the ground shared a good night wish to him. The game offered just a couple more chances, but no more goals- and the fans got a bit cocky towards the end as they chanted "We're playing like Brazil".
A very enjoyable match and ground, this won't be my only trip to the Novus Stadium
From the friendly fans, to the entertainment on the field, I thoroughly enjoyed this outing. Certainly a different one to the match from last week, but that is what makes the beautiful game just that. For £10 I have had a night of footy, plenty of goals, a can of Tango and a good chat with some local legends- what more could you ask for?


  1. I was fed up with you well before the blog

  2. I saw you at the ground and was very entertained by your blog which was a very true picture of the game . Keep it up! ps Kidsgrove is a great place to watch football at the moment for so many reasons- family club, good football, great atmosphere,friendly people and good value.

    1. Thanks for checking the post out. I always wonder whether fans of non-league clubs will appreciate the honest, but hopefully not disrespectful, manner of my writing. It was a great game, well worth the entry price and I will certainly be back for another match at some point!