Sunday 16th April 2017 ko 18.00
North West Counties League Premier Division
RUNCORN TOWN 4 (Cairns 16p 77 Reed 49 77)
BARNTON 1 (J McShane 73)
People were beginning to flag as the coach searched for a parking spot at Weston Point. If this had been the normal August Bank Holiday hop we’d have been parking up at our last game. I glanced over the Mersey estuary towards Halkyn United who had once been the opener for such a jaunt and remembered the view of the chemical works and inwardly reminisced.
The original plan wasn’t to be here, we’d planned on visiting St Helens’ new ground, but when the local authorities built the facility short of NWCFL ground grading requirements we needed an alternative. That’s not to say St Helens Town have been forgotten, remedial work is being carried out and they will get a visit as soon as they are ready and we are able. Their dignity is an example to many.
That left us with a dilemna. The next most obvious place to finish the day was Runcorn but with both Town and Linnets in close proximity the temptation would have been to try for a 4 game day, no easy task on Easter Sunday! Perhaps it was no bad thing that Linnets made it quite clear that they had no interest in the hop in any way shape or form and with Town showing the opposite attitude, it made our decision to head here a straightforward one!
Unquestionably the place is dominated the former ICI, now INEOS chemical works. The works produces chlorine-based products due to historically at least, the nearby Cheshire salt mining industry. The suffix “Wich” as in Northwich, Middlewich and so on, is derived from the old Norse word “Wic” for bay, a reference to salt pans- production of the base chemical by evaporation.
There was also the added bonus of a ghost ground to visit. There are two grounds at The Pavilions, and in the shadow of Runcorn Town’s ground, is the derelict home of General Chemicals later, Halton FC. They played their football in the West Cheshire League from 1958 before folding in 2010. We had just enough time to take our photos before the heavens opened again!!!
On that level it was good that there just about enough cover to keep everyone dry. The weather also pushed people toward the clubhouse and food hatches. Noone likes rain, but it can be profitable!
With the clubhouse swamped, the club found it difficult to produce enough teamsheets, but thankfully the gremlins affecting the printer were soon exorcised. Producing them is a lovely gesture, but I’m coming to the conclusion that it should be done in addition to a line-ups board rather than instead of. That way you have a back-up should the printer fail, and those who simply require the information rather than a paper souvenir can be easily satisfied.
What the rain didn’t dampen was the game, it was the kind of rip-roaring encounter any organiser hopes for to end off a day. Runcorn deserved their win even if I thought the score flattered them slightly, but I reckon Jason McShane enjoyed scoring against his old club!
I half trudged, half squelched my way back to the coach. Just one day left.