Bobby Langton Way
Bobby Langton Way
Ground Number: 337
Saturday 1st March 2012
Burscough 1-0 Wakefield
NPL D1 North
Back at the end of last year I booked to see my favourite band The Lancashire Hotpots. As they were playing on the Saturday evening, I needed a game to go to in the afternoon. Last season I saw them in Derby and went to Shepshed Dynamo beforehand. This time the long term plan was to go to Southport v Dartford and complete the Conference. However I had opted to go there on Tuesday instead and had a vacant Saturday. Taking into consideration that fellow groundhopper Anwar had already visited Burscough, and the fact that it was on the list of grounds that could go soon in football grounds magazine 'Groundtastic', I opted to take in their game against Wakefield, with the ground only being just over 10 miles from where I was staying in St Helens.
I'd still got my cold that I had got the previous week and so had a rubbish night's sleep, waking up at 6.30. At least this gave me some time to finish the Southport post on this blog, which I was really falling behind with, having done lots of games in a short space of time. I had a bath and some breakfast which perked me up a bit and after seeing to some other things, I left at 10.15. I was in no rush, there was nothing in the way of decent pubs near the ground, at least not in terms of cider. I even had time to stop at Hilton Park services for the toilet, though I was a bit worried when I was stuck in a traffic jam for nearly 30 minutes just after Crewe, this due to someone's poor driving leading to an accident. Luckily it looked as if no one was seriously hurt, but it didn't stop the rubber neckers having a good look and slowing everyone down. Eventually, I got there around 2 and parked up.
I wasn't sure what the food in the ground would be like, so I had a quick look round town to see if there were any takeaways. They were like I have generally found when I go up North, opening and shutting earlier than I was used to, at 1.30 in most cases. I had a look in the only food place that was open, Tesco, nothing grabbed my fancy so I went into the ground, planning to get a pint in the clubhouse and read the programme. But I was thwarted on both counts - the programmes had not yet arrived, and the clubhouse was only open to those outside the ground. Luckily I was able to go out and so I headed to the pub across the road, The Hop Vine, and had a pint of Aspalls cider, which I had not had for a fair while. I also popped in Tesco and got some chicken nuggets off of the rotisserie. I was right to ignore them the first time, they were crap, completely dry and tasteless. By now it was getting on for kick off and so I made my way back to the ground, buying a programme and a pen from the club shop, before finding a space to stand along the side to watch the game.
Burscough's proudest moment came in 2003 when they were the surprise winners of the FA Trophy. It was a year for the smaller teams that year, after beating Aylesbury United in the Semi Final, they beat Tamworth in the final at Villa Park, remarkably it was their 12th game of the competition. To add extra spice to the win, the manager of the team at the time was the ex Aston Villa player Sean Teale. They had only come up from the North West Counties League 5 years previously, so it was a remarkable achievement. A couple of seasons after that famous win, they reached the 2nd Round of the FA Cup, beating Gillingham 3-2 along the way. They had also enjoyed some good times in the league, but at the time of my visit were sitting in a lower mid table placing in the NPL D1 North.
Wakefield had also had some great moments in their history. Under their former name of Emley, they reached the 3rd round of the FA Cup in season 1997/98 narrowly losing to West Ham United. The following season they had another good run in the FA Cup, and also reached the FA Trophy quarter final. In 2010/11, the league bought in a daft new rule concerning 3 sided grounds. What was a nice little venue in Emley would have cost too much to upgrade to satisfy ground grading criteria and so moved to Wakefield and changed their name to Wakefield & Emley. The club struggled in their new home and after a few years dropped the Emley part of their name and took up their current monicker. The name of Emley still lives on however, playing at their old ground under the name of AFC Emley, at step 6 of non league.
The game was not the greatest, I have included a match report which you can see below. Burscough keeper Timothy Horn seemed to spend the whole match whinging and swearing at everyone, though to his credit he did make some good saves. Wakefield probably shaded the game, but not by much. But in the end it was Burscough that came through 1-0. I did have a nice hot dog though, only a quid from the tea bar and very nice. At half time I was able to go into the bar and have a pint. To my surprise they had Premiership footy on, beamed from one of those foreign channels. A lot better than paying Sky's ludicrous fees that they charge pubs and football clubs to show the football. There was also a good range of scarves and pennants on the wall, and aside from the limited drinks range, it was one of the best football bars I have been in.
After the game, I made my way to St Helens, stopping at ASDA to pick up a few things before checking into my hotel. After spending 10 minutes in my room, I walked into town and stopped at Wetherspoons for my dinner. It was St David's Day and I was hoping for a pint of my favourite Welsh cider to join in the celebrations. But they had sold out, and were also out of my second choice cider too. I was a bit more successful on the food front, getting a flaming dragon curry with naan bread and poppadoms for only £2.99. It was really nice and great value, even if it wasn't anywhere near curry house standard.
The concert was also greay. The Lancashire Hotpots were their usual fantastic self, and there was also a guest band called 'The Barsteward Sons of Val Doonican' They were excellent as well, and I bought a CD of them. Unfortunately due to copious amounts of Strongbow, when I woke up in the morning, it wasn't anywhere to be found. I have very little recollection of that night, though I do remember getting annoyed at not being able to get my google maps to work properly due to the high buildings, failing to find somewhere to eat, my phone battery running out and as a result taking ages to find my hotel in the dark.
The next morning I woke feeling a bit groggy, and had a cooked breakfast which perked me up. I went to get the Non League Paper from ASDA but they didn't have it. I had planned to spend a couple of hours in town before driving home anyway and by the time I had been round the shops I was feeling right as rain. I stopped at Ashton Town FC on the way home to take pictures. It was a tidy little setup, especially for step 6 of non-league, namely the North West Counties League Division 1. I listened to the League Cup final where Sunderland lead for so long before being outdone by Man City. I got in and watched the last 10 minutes of the game, having enjoyed a really good weekend.
VICTORIA PARK is not going to be around much longer according to some people and it does look a bit tired in places. There are 250 seats, plus another 1000 covered spaces in a total capacity of 3054. Overall it's a bit of a classic and well thought of amongst groundhoppers.
The club shop is decent, and has a good selection of old programmes too. The tea bar doesn't have the widest choice, but the hot dog I had was excellent and only £1. Finally the club house is decent, with lots of football stuff on the walls. It doesn't have the greatest range of drinks, but you will find something you like. There was also live football from the 3PM kick offs and they showed the goals from all the Premiership games at half time.