Saturday, January 30, 2016

When Saturday Comes...(Drawing a Blank)

A bright but cold Saturday afternoon and, procrastinating over progressing with the painting, quite shamefully considering the rare lovely quality of available daylight in the ‘studio’, the lure of a football match but a short stroll from home proved the greater attraction, what with it being a clash between the local village team and the one from the town where I was not born in Yellow Submarinesque fashion but at least raised and to which I returned some years later to reside for a while.

Gresford Athetic v Flint Town United (who once featured as the football club ‘Badge of the Day’ when the collection was being paraded here on TOoT back in the day) in the Huws Gray Alliance was the event, an affordable £3 the admission price, and there follows a brief photo sequence of the experience/entertainment.

This particular fixture was in fact the second visit of the season to take in a match at Gresford’s Clappers Lane home, the first being for what transpired to be Athletic’s thrilling 4 – 2 victory over the wonderfully-named Holyhead Hotspur on the Saturday before Christmas, a dank day indeed but enlivened by our local heroes’ gutsy comeback from 1 – 2 and a man (unfortunately sent off by an over-officious referee) down, just the sort of performance to encourage the punters, or at least this one, to return for more, both for its own sake and in preference to attending a match a little further up the road and football echelons at Wrexham, as we had done earlier in the season for the visit of the mighty Gainsborough Trinity.

Anecdote duly delivered, back to this Saturday and a little visual evidence. To begin, we feature the small covered stand at the Clappers Lane ground, with the dug-outs to either side, home team to the left, the visitors to the right (contrast this with the comparative grandeur of the facilities at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground and the supposed glamour of e.g. the over-hyped FA Premiership).

The opposite view, from the covered stand side of the ground, of the teams taking to the pitch, Gresford in red, Flint in their traditional black and white stripes. To digress briefly, and by way of a curious coincidence, the very first football match of which I took notice was the 1974 FA Cup Final, as televised, contested by Liverpool and Newcastle United, teams wearing similar colours, Liverpool eventually being the victors by 3 – 0: a portent for today’s match, perhaps..?
First-half action, watched by a healthy crowd of around 70 spectators (including a contingent from Flint) dotted around the perimeter railings and in the stand, Flint on the ball, largely in control of possession and proceedings during the early exchanges but without creating much at the business end, Gresford dogged in their attentions, well-organized and grafting, closing down the space.

One of a number of corner kicks to the home team, now applying occasional pressure of their own, all coming to nought, alas.

The referee in control of a feisty encounter, the Flint management duo keenly observe proceedings with much vocal encouragement and opinion offered (throughout) with a choice selection of ‘industrial’ language.

Spot the ball – oh look, there it is, up yonder! The respective number 2s double-up as the tower of the village’s imposing church peeps over the roof of the Memorial Hall in the distance.

A second-half free-kick to Gresford in what might be a dangerous position. The Flint goalkeeper lines up his defensive wall in readiness. Again, the opportunity proves unproductive.

Events proceeded with the occasional effort on either goal, Flint’s custodian making a fine save at one point to deny the home team and Gresford defending their goal staunchly when called-upon, but ultimately it was all to no avail, and a hard-fought match ended goalless, honours even, time to return home and gain some respite from what had become the bitter cold.



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