Monday, 21 May 2018


19 MAY 2018 --- 2PM
Knutsford have already secured the league title but you might as well just keep on winning when you can and so it proved against a well organised Billinge side.  The champions fell behind early on to a wonderful strike but as the game went on it became clearer that the quality in finishing that Knutsford had would win the day for the Manchester Rd side and having equalised in the first half the two second half goals allowed them to wrap three points up again.
As the end of season tour goes on and indeed for many clubs at step 7 the season is rattling away with many games a week when other leagues have completed there was chance to take a look at what would be the blogs first Cheshire League game, although of course 2 clubs have been covered in cup games this season [Congleton VR and Whaley Bridge Ath].
That phrase 'had been on the cards for a while' has sprung up a few times and is non more applicable than to todays hosts Knutsford who from all my fellow footy fans I had not heard nothing but praise about the club, indeed ace photographer Barry Dyke had called in one summers day a few years ago and waxed lyrically about his visit.  On a non match day he met the grounds man Brian Deeley who of course with a pitch like Knutsford possess was down at the ground and after being invited to take a look around their facilities they had a lengthy conversation about the club and even exchanged scarves from one of Barry's clubs at the time Clay Cross Town.  Pleased to say the Millers scarf still adorns the bar and of course from this friendships are made and while recounting this story to Brian today I have to say we received a superb welcome from him and all at the club.
While we are in an out of sync story telling mode it was also good to by greeted by Knutsford secretary Nev Pearson who as we got into conversation it became clear was the former Gamesley manager who brought his side to Clay Cross Town for a Derbyshire Senior Cup game about 4 seasons ago.  It appears Nev is a former Glossop lad but now finds himself in nearby Northwich and is a great addition to the club offering a warm welcome to the array of hoppers in attendance today.  It always amazes me how some clubs are so aware of hoppers/visitors and go out of their way to offer a warm welcome and others just don't seem interested well here at Knutsford I don't think you will be disappointed. 
On the hopper front it was superb to catch up with Sean Blaney who we first met a few years ago at Main Rd Fc and who is a font of all knowledge for footy especially around this area with many a possible ground visit tip picked up for next year.  Fellow traveller Mick had got in touch with a fellow hopper from Daisy Hill, sorry didn't pick get your name, but it was really one of those afternoons were football and grounds were discussed on a warm summers day, what could be better?
So with the needle back to the start of the record travel from base station at just before 1030 saw a swift change in Stockport and arrival at todays destination around mid day.
Knutsford.................................probably the most difficult town to describe but here goes.  Its wealthy exterior pervades all who have read about the area and if you take a walk along the narrow King St you will feel it with boutique shops, restaurants of an exquisite type and a whole range of high end small businesses.  Many of these appeared to have little custom and I guess one sale a day may have made the necessary margins.  The town moves very slightly into a more 'normal town feel' on its adjacent Princess St but even this is topped off with the street running across it has a large shop window front, not a garage, offering the latest Tesla a car for the Knutsford area, indeed around the corner was the former McLaren showroom. 
Surprisingly enough having failed to secure a fish in chip shop it was Princess St that, good grief, offered up a Coop Cheese sandwich and rather appropriately millionaires shortbread was purchased and it was back onto the streets of Knutsford.  Having cracked open the cheese sandwich I began to eat it along the streets only then did I realise I could have made a big social etiquette error, I was lowering the tone of the area significantly and it was time to move away quickly along the Manchester Rd before the lowering the tone police arrested me.
In all seriousness though conversations during the afternoon showed Knutsford to have a couple of large social housing estates and it would appear that the centre has just developed into the feel of a wealthy place but some of the surrounding areas are batting along like the rest of us.  As a further note I never saw a bus all afternoon the main Manchester Rd has just four a day on a Monday to Friday and there are no Sunday and Bank Holiday services in the town at all, look like getting the Range Rover out again.
Early arrival was looking on the cards so we walked past the ground a little way and when we came back a selection of large cars were leaving the ground initially thinking little of this as every other car is a Mercedes or BMW it was then a question of is the game off?  Needless to say it wasn't we had just missed Arsenal and England international Danny Welbeck who had called in to the club for a bit of training!
Along the wide driveway to the club we paid our admission and gained the colourful 4 page programme that offered up information on Knutsford Fc.  First building is the bar area which doubles up as the food bar serving up I'm assured quality pies, through the double doors was a further hospitality area with a wide selection of comfortable seats throughout both buildings it was quite possible to find one that suited you.  Beyond this building are the changing rooms and to the side a smart toilet block.  From behind this entry point goal to the left is a stand that covers a good proportion of the pitch side and once again offers a selection of seats including high bar stools!  The rest of the ground is uncovered and of grass standing with the dug outs uniquely on opposite sides of the pitch.  While talking of the pitch Brian and the club are noted for it and it was of course in excellent condition again today.  As with Whitchurch last week this ground has smartness and cared for screaming out from all corners of it and with the people I encountered today a real warm about the whole set up.
Now to the main event and with Billinge needing to win their final two games to finish second it would be a good challenge I was sure and non more so than when the visitors took the lead after just 14 minutes a superb strike from the edge of the box courtesy of Liam Platt.
Shortly after though Knutsford found the equaliser a cross off the right saw Liam Crellin Myers set up Ben Brooks for the finish to make it 1-1.  That's how it remained at the half time break but it has to be said Billinge were making this hard for Knutsford with some lovely passing football although at times it may have been a little too much and the Champions were struggling to get a dominant foothold in the game.
The second half saw Dean Warburton test visiting keeper Tom Darbyshire with a 20 yard effort before taking the lead with seventeen minutes remaining.  A sharp move down the left saw the previous saw the same partnership as Knutsford's first goal team up to allow Brooks to get his second with a curling shot that flew in off the post.
Within two minutes it was game over when Knutsford made it 3-1 Darbyshire saved well from Aaron Dwyer and with too little time to recover the number 1 was beaten by Crellin-Myer whose close range effort nestled in the back of the Billinge goal.  Knutsford were looking irresistible now and Dwyer struck a post before in the closing minute Crellin-Myers hit a crisp 20 yard effort that Darybshire rose superbly to push over the bar to cap off a good performance rom the visiting keeper this afternoon.
Round about trip back via the Coop, again, for some provisions for the journey back although this time I waited until I was at the station before opening up any food stuffs.  With a comfortable change at Stockport and a cheerio to Sean it was an arrival back at base station just after 7pm from what had been a highly recommended visit to a wonderful little club.

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