Groundhopper: Blackpool Wren Rovers 11 Crookland’s Casuals 0 (1/4/17). (Malcolm Stephenson)

Blackpool Wren Rovers 11 Crookland’s Casuals 0 (1/4/17).

Last night I was in Manchester for Maine Road’s game against West Didsbury and Chorley. Unfortunately that game was abandoned on 55 minutes due to a bad elbow injury where the player could not be moved. I thought I would be in better luck next day with my trip to AFC Blackpool.

I left my Travel Lodge in Sale, Manchester, and was tempted to go and see Blyth’s promotion challenge at Stafford Rangers. However the temptation of going to a new ground was too great so I decided to travel up to Blackpool instead. That’s the trouble with being a ground hopper. It can detach you away from your own club at times. I could have gone south to Stafford to see Blyth play but would rather go and see a match at a new ground with only one man and his dog there in attendance. I just cannot help it.


The journey up to Blackpool took about an hour and the incessant rain did not forebode well.

I arrived at a friend’s caravan in Blackpool about 1pm. He lives on a holiday site there. A quick check on the internet and I discovered that AfC Blackpool’s game was off due to a waterlogged pitch. I was not having much luck was I after last night’s postponement?


Another quick check and I found Blackpool Wren Rovers match was still on. Not what I intended but still a new ground to go to but a game nevertheless. “Get in the bag”, as I say with renewed optimism.


Wren Rovers were founded in 1931 and play at Bruce Park which is literally right next door to Squires Gate FC from the North West Counties League. Two non league clubs literally right next to each other complete with their own turnstiles and floodlights.


They have been known as Blackpool Wren Rovers since 1998. Even more extraordinary is that AFC Blackpool is also a 5 minute walk away. That’s three non league clubs in very close proximity to each other on the outskirts of Blackpool. I found it a bit bizarre and my mind boggles as how they also function on a financial basis. Also confusing, is if you live nearby which one do you support? The world of non league football certainly throws up some conundrums at times.


The club currently play in West Lancashire league but they did spend some time about 30 years ago in the North West Counties league. The ground has four sides of cover for standing spectators but they are in a bit of a dilapidated condition. The ground was one of those which you could see had

been in higher leagues years ago and was in no way what you would expect from a local county club. The club also had floodlights.


I entered the ground to find no one on the turnstile and there was no charge to gain entry. This immediately made me think there would be no programme and I was quite correct on that account. I did manage to acquire an old programme from the club bar which was over 25 years old. It was a match day programme nevertheless and I was happy with that. Anything is better than nothing. I was charged 50p for it but ‘he yo’ who’s bothered. As long as I had something in my collection of programmes I am still happy. It happened to be a match against Man City when they opened the new social club.


Today’s opponents were Crookland Casual’s who are from Cumbria. They play in Dalton-in-Furness to be exact and have been around since 1970.


It did not take the home side to dominate the game and were 4-0 in front by half time. The second half slithered in another array of goals with Rovers eventually putting through 11. It must have been soul destroying for Crooklands going through the emotions and the Psychological damage limitation of such a defeat.


Many years ago I played in a team called St Nicholas Hospital in a Sunday league. We took many a defeat but I still felt inspired to play every week to gain that elusive victory. It’s not always the winning but the playing that’s important. Losing every week was a determination for me to keep going to get it right one day. I am like that today. Struggle with something and it gives me have more encouragement in perseverance to succeed eventually.


Eleven nil it ended. A great result for the home side and a disaster for the away team. But that’s football. I watched Blyth win 11-1 against Bedlington Terriers in the Northumberland Senior cup earlier in the season. That’s the first time I think I have watched two games in season where one side has scored eleven goals in the game.


I learned Spartans had won 1-0 at Stafford Rangers in their promotion bid so felt re-assured they did not need me there after all to gain their victory.


I ended the Saturday with a night out on the drink in Blackpool which is always a good thing. Happy days.


Adm- Nothing


Att- (approx) 30

Ground for level of football 7/10

Pies- 8/10

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