As a result of the cataclysmic wet weather, it had been three weeks since the Bears’ last game, a convincing and promising 5-0 victory at home to Barnoldswick (writes Mike McLaughlin).
Saturday’s proposed game at Litherland looked unlikely, but behold a tweet. “Shout out for Colin Mac and the chairman this morning. Worked hard on the pitch to get the game v Congleton on. All good to go now so get down and support the REMY”.
Litherland sat at the bottom of the league with only four victories in 28 attempts, but having recently imported eight new players (including ex-Bear Paul Speed), they were full of confidence at the prospect of dragging themselves out of the basement.
They had visited the Silk Stadium on 28th January, when they lost 4-3 after a very average game full of “muddled play”, and both teams “disorganised and loose, careless and clumsy in possession” failing to impress.
Litherland play at a local sports park, a somewhat bleak and soulless place, with plenty of parking space but a running track around the pitch effectively alienating spectators from the action.
Only 76 bodies appeared to watch the relegation battle on a bright but extremely windy afternoon.
The impact of the wind was anticipated, and it didn’t disappoint.
Play was very scrappy and, despite having plenty of possession, the Bears were unable to adjust their play appropriately. Constant striking of long, high balls, particularly on the side of the pitch that inevitably led to finding touch, seemed an odd tactic.
They fell 2-0 behind before half-time, both goals eminently avoidable. It was not good.
Hopefully, lessons would have been learned in time for the second half.
Sadly, not so.
Let devoted fan Ray Ogden spare us unnecessary detail and sum up proceedings.
“Full-time 3-0, absolutely dreadful performance, not one shot on target the whole game. They adapted to the conditions far better than us. We were only second best because there is no third. I can’t think of anything positive to say about today. It was all bad.”
Long-term fan Ray is, by nature, a beacon of obdurate optimism, even when surrounded by bleaker-spirited companions, so his critical assessment is even more significant.
As a result of their deserved win, Litherland climbed off the bottom of the table; the Bears continue to struggle for consistent quality, themselves only just above the desperate melee in the basement.
The next home fixture is on Sunday v Northwich Victoria, 11.30am ko.
This fixture will be part of the third annual groundhop.
Run in conjunction with Groundhop UK, the UK’s premier groundhopping organisation, the event involves seven league games played over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The games will be attended by a mixture of supporters, neutrals and groundhoppers, supporters of football in general. Their interest is largely in visiting different grounds around the country and even further afield, compiling their lists of conquests as they go.
Studiously and meticulously planned to allow the groundhoppers to watch each game in tight sequence, and stay refreshed and nourished, a coach is available where required to facilitate progress.
Our very own club secretary, Ken Mead, was quoted on the NWCFL website. He looked forward to a good attendance, with perhaps even some newcomers in the mix, and, with luck, any income generated on the day will be supplemented in the future courtesy of interest germinated by the event.
NWCFL man Martin Fallon commented: “The last two Groundhops have brought much increased attendances, and in a couple of circumstances have set record attendances for the clubs.”
Because of the unusual circumstances, the club has had to adjust match-day arrangements, with mighty club stalwart Steve Burgess back in charge of business after a brief retirement.
Gates will open at 9.30am, with groundhoppers, whether on the coach or not, able to gain admittance by ticket at the main gate.
Regular admission, through the turnstile, will be £6, for whoever or whatever.
Free parking will be available at West Street car park, and stewards will be available and obvious wherever appropriate.
Inside the stadium, the club shop will be fully geared to accommodate the visitors, club badges and any other paraphernalia readily available. Programmes will be in great demand so extra supplies will be available. Shop manager Jerry Brocklehurst and programme man Alan Brennan, both yeomen of Wednesday Club renown, have seen it all before, many times, and are confident and calm that any impending avalanches of demand will be handled comfortably.
Catering, under the expert and experienced control of Guy and Janice, will include bacon rolls available before kick-off, with homemade delicacies such as stew, vegetable chilli, flapjacks and brownies available throughout.
The bar, and beer in particular, is always impressive. On this day it will reach untold heights, supplemented by a special Groundhopper bitter.
Come along, enjoy the whole enthusiastic and idiosyncratic experience, and watch some good, honest football!
Next fixture: Saturday, 14th March v Rylands FC 3pm.