Let the NWCFL website set the scene (writes Micke McLaughlin).
“A recent upturn in form has come at Congleton Town, who are unbeaten in three games, having scored 10 goals in the process. The Bears sit in 13th place in the League and beat this weekend’s opponents Padiham 4-0 at home. However, they will be cautious given that they have won only two of their 17 away games this season.
“Padiham (16th in the League) sit just above Congleton in the form guide and have won three and lost three of their last six games. Like others it is their home form that has given them problems this season, winning just five of 19 games at the Ruby Civic Arena, although they have only played at home once in 2020.”
However, as much as the game was anticipated, it was noted in the recent Padiham Press: “Once again Padiham was in the eye of the storm as the River Calder raged and water flooded into the town centre and into several shops ... firefighters spent eight hours pumping out flood water ... the water hit the town like a tsunami.”
Inevitably then, as Storm Dennis approached, came the Padiham FC announcement: “Unfortunately, as you probably gather, today’s @NWCFL game v @Congleton FC is off due to a waterlogged pitch. A new date will be arranged in due course. With Storm Dennis on its way, please stay safe and take care”.
So, sadly, no on-field action, but so much off the field.
The obvious comparison is to a revolving door as a bewildering change of playing personnel unfolds before us. Lee Pickerill, William Booth, Aaron Botts, Arron Johns, Lee Cropper, Luke Horrocks and Ricky Bridge have all appeared before us. The NWCFL website suggests Connor Austin and Joseph Taylor-Mountford as about to appear, but Twitter bellowed: “We are delighted to announce that highly rated goalkeeper Dave Parton has joined the club. Dave has committed himself beyond this season as we look to build for the future. The former Stoke City, Nantwich and Kidsgrove stopper signed this week from Whitchurch Alport.
“Dave is a fantastic shot stopper, natural leader and is looking forward to a new challenge. Please join us in welcoming Dave to our fantastic club”.
Whitchurch fans agreed: “Very good signing. He could easily play at step 4” and “Awesome signing. A great keeper.”
Whitchurch chair and ex-manager, Luke Goddard, lamented the loss of a big player and character who would be missed by all at Alport. He said, ruefully: “It’s disappointing to lose someone of Dave’s ability. Sadly it’s just how things move on and the offer put together by Congleton is something that Parts would’ve been daft to not take up.”
As further corroboration when the Bears met Whitchurch recently, on 1st February, the match was drawn 1-1. Whitchurch were down to 10 men, Congleton were pressing hard and the Chronicle reported: “The pressure built and intensified, but the Whitchurch keeper was immense, inspired even. Several of his saves were remarkable, one ‘that Gordon Banks would have been proud of’.” Last season the Bears enjoyed an excellent and successful season, and keeper Craig Ellison was a major contributor, winning awards and acclamation alike.
Dave Parton has a lot to live up to, but it appears that he is fully capable. We welcome him to our club and offer him our full and enthusiastic support.
Next home fixture: Sunday, 8th March, Northwich Victoria 11. Please note that, as this is a Groundhoppers fixture, there will be no concessionary admission at this game.