The first 'Sportspy Reports' from HM Prison, Kirkham where home side The Old Town Hall FC welcomed promotion rivals FC Loco for a top of the table, promotion chasing league encounter in Division 1.
This was something of a trip down memory lane for me. Not that I've ever been incarcerated at Her Majesty's pleasure you understand like many others involved in the BFSFA but when I used to play we often enjoyed summer friendlies at the jail. At the risk of sounding like Abe Simpson I remember one particular game about twenty-five years ago when I turned up for a friendly after work having forgotten my boots . The only spare pair belonged to the manager but for some inexplicable reason they were bright red. Back then, if you wore coloured boots you either had to be very good player or something of a weird extrovert and I was neither. Unlike today, when everybody wears silly coloured boots, back then it was something of a rarity (Like wearing normal coloured black and white boots today). The sides of the pitch were lined with brutish looking cons smoking roll-ups between yellowing fingers and naturally they took the piss out of me and the red boots mercilessly for ninety minutes. Still, we won, and for once, I had a decent game.
Little has changed, and the pitch was much as I remember. A hidden gem, well maintained, a little bumpy with a sideways slope located on the far side of the facility (See Google maps for the pitch and other escape routes!). Sincere thanks to the prison governor and team manager Mick Hutchinson for allowing fyldesport.com access to today's game. The Division 1 title race is now down to two teams, FC Loco and FC Eden. Today's visitors FC Loco are currently top of the table a point ahead of FC Eden who have played two games less. The Loco have three games left and can rack up a maximum of 56 points. Eden have five games left and can reach 61 points if they win all of their remaining games. However, FC Eden and FC Loco are still to face each other so it's still in Loco's own hands but a win today was imperative if they are to keep their title hopes alive.
FC Loco have had a great season and defied pre-season expectations. After losing last season's Division 1 Cup final so badly to Northern Care Reserves as well as getting beat 4-1 on the opening day of the season I feared for them this season but they've been consistently good all season losing only two of their nineteen league games. The only other team to beat them in the league were AFC Additions back in late March. The team reached the quarter-final of the Gledhill Cup where they lost 3-2 in extra time to Division 2B side Highfield Social. In the Divisional Cup they went out to Bloomfield Vets. Earlier in the season they beat today's opponents 2-0 in the reverse fixture.
Home side Old Town Hall FC are in a two way race for third place and a possible promotion place with Bloomfield Vets. They also finished third last season which was notable in their first season after being promoted as 2A Champions. This is a especially commendable achievement as unlike most other teams they stuggle to maintain a settled squad as the fortunate prisoners who get to play are often from outside of the local area so when they're released, rehabilitated as model citizerns back into the community, they go home to play for local sides in local leagues. Occasionally, the current crop of cons may contain more embezzlers of company funds or insurance fraudsters in their fifties and sixties rather than fleet footed, nimble and agile burglars in their twenties so there's not a lot of footballing talent to choose from.
The Old Town Hall FC have lost only four of their nineteen games and although they still have an outside chance of runners up spot it's unlikely but a win today against Loco would boost their chances when considering FC Loco's final two games against FC Eden. In The Gledhill Cup, Old Town Hall took their usual early exit after being beat 5-1 by Eden in Round 2. In the Divisional Cup they lost to BFSFA Champions Blackpool Rangers in a replay.
All set then for an interesting game of football. By 11am the ealy morning mist had lifted to reveal clearing skies and no wind. In charge today was top BFSFA referee John Hornsby and at 11am his whistle got he match underway with Town Hall kicking off in their red and black strip.
I had to be careful about rules ii (b) and iii.
The Old Town Hall FC 2009/10
FC Loco 2009/10
Captains Joel Chappell (Left) and Gary McEvatt with referee John Hornsby
Town Hall kick off
On2 minutes Town Hall were ahead. An attempted clearance appeared to be blocked by a fellow Loco player and Burscough striker Gary McEvatt took advantage. 1-0
FC Loco keeper Steven 'Goldberg' Coles
Three minutes later and it was 2-0 as McEvatt (14) raced on to a throughball, tiptoed around Goldberg and slotted it home.
Town Hall liner
Town Hall keeper Dave 'Snowie' Snowden
Graeme Hutchinson (Centre)
The Loco got away with this one as McEvatt failed to convert the chance
Town Hall fans and injured players
Tony Cullen (Right – stripes)
On 32 minutes McEvatt put Hutchinson through. In the above picture he rounded the keeper and looked set to score but the ball was running away from him so he turned and unselfishly squared for McEvatt who…………
………………gratefully tapped it in for his hat trick. 3-0
A minute later and Hutchinson belted it home to make it 4-0. Loco on the ropes
A good block by Goldberg
Watch his quick feet or he's past you
Half time score : The Old Town Hall FC 4 – 0 FC Loco
Half time breather for the Old Town Hall
FC Loco supporter Ruby
Loco start the second half. The slope can be seen
On 55 McEvatt was adjudged to have been brought down in the box – penalty. Steve Cambell made no mistake as he sent Coles the wrong way
Referee John Hornsby
Chappell gets a yellow but it was only his second booking of the season
It's a very stressful job being a prison guard on Sunday overtime
62 minutes in and Loco create their first shot on goal
Snowden takes it off the head of Matty Parr
Town Hall manager Mick Hutchinson
A great strike from Tony Cullen 20 yards out beats Coles after smashing down off the bar and in (Ball obscured) – 6-0
Nigel Marlow (Right)
Tony the 'Motivator' (Centre)
Not enough shirts so it's a sweaty swap
Reserve keeper Aaron gets a run out but had little to do
On 77 minutes Hutchinson was sent clear down the right. He passed it inside to McEvatt who turned sharply to score another. 7-0. The same player scored his fifth on 81 minutes after Chappell miskicked. McEvatt raced clear and dinked it over Coles. 8-0.
Despondency (Loco manager Scott Elliott feels the pain of defeat)
Chappell finally gets near McEvatt as he shakes his hand at the end of the match
Final score : The Old Town Hall FC 8 – 0 FC Loco
This wasn't the scoreline that was expected this morning as the Old Town Hall ran riot at the prison as they dominated proceedings from start to finish. They played some quality football all over the pitch, looked strong defensively and were awesome going forward. McEvatt is a quality player and he ran the show with a display of class finishing, excellent work rate and visionary passing. Runners up spot still looks beyond them but hopefully they'll have a crack in the premier Division next season if the situation allows.
A day to forget for FC Loco who were severely understrength with manager Scott Elliott having to play at right back in his first game of the season. Top scorer Smith was out injured and they missed him going forward along with influential Dale Woolhouse in midfield. Eden's surprise defeat this morning means that they still have a chance of winning the title if they can beat Eden twice in their last two games. On today's showing that's a big ask. Nevertheless, a good season for Loco in Division 1.