Last Tuesday evening, (May 3rd, 2011), local West Lancs 1st Division side Norcross & Warbreck FC travelled to the Giant Axe Ground, home of Lancaster City FC, to take on Burnley United FC in the final of the Presidents Cup. The club had endured a barren sixty-six year run without winning Cup silverware. Once again, our North Shore correspondent John 'Big shades' McNicholas was there to witness events and sincere thanks to him for providing the following report and pictures.
So at 5.15pm on a warm summers evening the wheels of the bus rolled and the Norcross squad plus supporters head for the 'Giant Axe', Lancaster City FC's ground set in the heart of the County town in a lovely historic setting surrounded by greenery and in the shadow of St Peter's cathedral.
On arrival it was a great night for football with the fierce heat of the day replaced by a light cool breeze. Whilst the players disappeared for the warm up and team talk the supporters migrated to the nearby Victoria Pub for ale and Pool. At 7.30pm sharp, official Mark Bailey had the game underway, he was ably assisted by Paul Tuffy and Clive Wilson on the lines and Mr T Ball as the 4th official.
Norcross pressed hard from the off and indeed started in every sense of the word as they meant to go on. After 13 minutes they almost scored after the Burnley defence scrambled a ball off the line by the left hand post. Just two minutes later, the Burnley keeper stretched to tip a shot onto the bar and on 18 a shot which had him beaten whistled a foot past the post. On 23, a dangerous cross from the right was well gathered by the Burnley keeper but in the 29th minute the active Shaun Bimpson controlled a ball from a throw-in from the left wing and nimbly rounded the keeper to slot the ball in the right hand corner of the net, 1-0 to Norcross.
During this time Burnley played some spells of good football but were neutralised by the Burnley back four who were solid throughout the game with Rossall and Kirton in particular standing out. Norcross maintained the pressure and defended resolutely and went in at half time deservedly 1-0 up. It could well have been four but for the Burnley keeper.
The 2nd half began as one would have expected with Burnley piling on the pressure from the whistle but once again this was dealt with by the stalwart Norcross defence. On the 55th minute, Carl 'the Beast' Eastwood never gave up on a long ball and drilled a right footed shot into the bottom left hand corner of the Burnley net, 2-0 to Norcross.
Big Neil Kirton loped forward for a Norcross corner on the hour and headed just wide. Mr Bailey booked a Burnley player on the stroke of the 63rd minute after a series of questionable fouls from a side now frustrated and deflated and on 65 a sharp goal bound Norcross shot was only deflected wide by a desperate defender's trailing foot. In the 70th minute the busy Eastwood was fouled again and Norcross continued to appear dangerous as the free kick flew three feet past the right post. The Norcross defence continued their determined resistance and distribution and the forwards capitalised as a cross from the left almost found the top right hand corner of the Burnley net. Burnley too found some form at this stage and a couple of hasty clearances were required from the Norcross penalty area.
However, in the 84th minute, a sharp move down the middle saw Holloway's effort saved well by the keeper and from the resultant corner the same player scored after a goal mouth scramble, 3-0 to Norcross. Unfortunately, the 90th minute saw a player from each side booked after an unnecessary spot of 'handbags' over on the right wing. Mr Bailey, who officiated well, was left with no alternative but it was a pity after such an enjoyable encounter.
The final whistle blew shortly afterwards amid wild celebrations from players, management and the fair number of supporters that had travelled by coach and by personal transport. Well done Norcross & Warbreck FC.
Norcross, as I said, started as they meant to go on and frustrated a Burnley side that showed plenty of flair but who were baulked at every turn. The Norcross defence were solid, the midfield distributed the ball well and the forwards were inventive and sharp. A great performance on the night which belied the teams' respective positions in the table which Burnley are likely to win.
A credit to all concerned and a memorable Fylde Coast victory for all of those who travelled to support the team. John McNicholas.
Fyldesport footnote: Congratulations to Norcross & Warbreck FC on winning the Presidents Cup. The performances of our local sides in the West Lancs League have been very impressive. Blackpool Wren Rovers FC retained the Premier Division title for the second successive season. After their first season in the top flight, Thornton Cleveleys FC look like they'll finish in fourth and possibly third. After a tough season, Poulton should finish in 11th. In the first Division, Norcross & Warbreck FC will probably finish fifth with Wyre Villa in 10th. Congratulations to Lytham Town FC who won the Division 2 title.
These achievements added to to AFC Blackpool's Vodkat League Division 1 title, Fleetwood Town FC charge to the Blue Square Premier Division Play off semi-finals and AFC Fylde's achievement in reaching the Evostick Division 1 play off final has made it a golden year for Fylde Coast football (not forgetting Poulton SFC's fine Lancashire Sunday Trophy final win). Long may it continue.
Arriving at the ground (Norcross in the orange)
Stalwart Norcross man Moggs (left) warms up young Josh Woods
Set in the historic City of Lancaster, the cathedral and castle as the backdrop
Beesley & the Perry's – sounds like a new Hollywood comedy
Norcross & Warbreck FC 2010/11
The players and officials emerge from the tunnel
'Heads it is'
A strange line down the middle of the pitch but 'goal kick'
Norcross go close
Staunch Burnley man complete with accent, knowledge and a roll up. A nice chap.
A bit more gear than me
Boothy finds the burger van (Not for the first time)
No 2 son Danny (Right) with pal Tizzel thew crisp king
The sun is setting as the committee lay out the trophy table
Burnley United collect the runners up trophy
As Norcross watch on
Norcross collect their winners medals – Danny from Blackpool TV on the spot as always
Norcross & Warbreck FC hoist the Presidents Cup