Mossley 2 Brighouse Town 3 (15th November 2014)
A home game v Brighouse. Fans of the Ripping Yarns tale “Golden Gordon” would have been disappointed that Brighouse weren’t a team of old age pensioners, the centre-forward didn’t wear glasses during the match, and while they did come away with an away win, it wasn’t by eight bloody one.
It was also a bit of a let down to find they didn’t compete in the Yorkshire Premier League in the 1930s, being originally a works teams formed in 1963, who’ve had a remarkable rise after still playing in the West Riding Amateur League six years ago.
Mossley are rather older, dating back to 1903, with their Seel Park ground nestled in a town that looks as old as the hills that surround it. The views of the moors to the east are undoubtedly the ground’s most notable feature, with an almost unimpeded view offered from one side of the ground, and yet more hills in view when on the other. For the uncommitted it’s quite a distraction, but definitely a good one.
Seel Park, even ignoring the views, is one of the more unusual grounds going. With a pitch that slopes slightly alarmingly in several directions, and with corners curling up like an old British Rail cheese sandwich, terracing the ground has proved something of a challenge. Looking almost like someone at the club had a dodgy contact at the local council, the terracing on two and half sides looks to be a mix of kerb stones and blackening paving slabs. With a tenacious desire to keep the slabs level at all times, the terracing rises and falls along its length like a contour map, as if the builder has only ever previously designed things using Lego. The terracing at one end is cut away around the goal, as if an over-eager builder had started on the ends without realising that a little extra space is needed for the goal.
Rather better is a decently sized covered end behind the southern goal. No cut-away needed here, but what are deemed needed are several rounded-style crush barriers, liberally spaced along the terrace. Another was oddly placed in a severely sloping corner section. This has since been declared a non-viewing area, in what I’d call a rare case of health & safety not gone mad.
More blackened, but more conventional terracing continues round the corner to the side of the ground housing the bars and offices, and the main stand. This stand, with a flat roof with four pillars at the front is a victory of functionality over aesthetics, but there are plenty worse. It would also have offered a fine view of the hills too, even if the pillars would probably guarantee an obstruction of at least one of the goals from about half of the seats.
Next to the main stand was the tea bar, and while it’s be impossible to knock it for friendliness or price, if I were you I’d give the “meat” pies a miss. I’ve always found it slightly dubious that they never state what the actual meat is, but tucking into the slightly warm pie, I couldn’t help but notice a certainly similarity between it and Pedigree Chum. I guess if I get a glossy coat and a healthy wet nose out of it, I shouldn’t complain. The complaining would probably be reserved for the “ploughman’s lunch” in a packet that I bought in the bar instead of a packet of nuts, purely because I had no idea what it was.
Failing eyesight meant I couldn’t quite see the image on the front of the packet, but upon opening I realised I’d just paid £1 for two crackers, a triangle of cream cheese, and three tiny pickled onions, each about the size of coated peanut. I can only assume that Ploughmen in the Wigan area, where Freshers Foods are based, are on a severe diet, if that constitutes a “lunch” for them.
Opposite was a covered side terrace, with random black breeze block walls and extensions to the terracing steps giving the appearance that the plans got slightly mixed up with a game of Tetris, but for those perhaps sick of the moors behinds, it was a welcome spot.
With this corner of Lancashire, unlike most of the country, enjoying a touch of sunlight, the scene was set for a bright afternoon. It wasn’t the greatest of first halves though. Maybe Lancashire v Yorkshire rivalry gets more heated the closer to the divide you get, as players were, to put it mildly “committed to the tackle” on several occasions. Quite how the game ended 11 v 11 is a mystery.
Mossley probably had the better of the play, but seemed to have lost their bearings with regards to where the penalty area, let alone the goal, was. One free kick from near the dug-outs, seemingly aimed towards the box, actually landed first bounce in the terraces down the side. It kind of summed up their attacking threat. Their best first half chance was a weak left foot shot after a good run into the box, which was easily saved.
Brighouse did rather better. They opened the scoring in the 27th minute, when a ball into the box wasn’t cleared, and it was fired back through a crowd of players into the bottom corner. They doubled the lead eight minutes later, skipping past a few challenges on the right before passing across the keeper into the far corner. Given the difficulty Mossley were having even having a shot, and the occasional arguments breaking out between the players, getting back into the game didn’t look easy.
I can only guess the manager’s team talk was along the lines of “Gosh, gentlemen. I feel there are perhaps a few aspects of our play that could improve”, or words to that effect, as Mossley came out showing a determination that hadn’t been there in the first half. Or maybe it was just playing down the slope (or one of the slopes, to be exact) that helped. Either way, they got back into the game after just a couple of minutes, heading a far post cross down and across the keeper for a textbook goal.
It was a different game now. Another header, this time at the near post, was flashed just wide. A loose ball eight yards out was just begging to be put away, but the side-foot shot was too near the keeper, and was blocked, with the crowd, and one or two of the players, already celebrating being on level terms. The ball back in from that save was also only just cleared away. Another shot from close in on the right was only just saved, but nobody was on hand to turn in the loose ball as it squirmed across the six yard box.
Brighouse were still looking dangerous on the break though. In fact they twice ought to have added a third, only for some atrocious finishing seeing the ball slice wide each time with a goal looking likely.
The third did come though, with a quarter of an hour left. A mix up between keeper and defender saw an attempted clearance bounce into the path of a Brighouse forward. Perhaps mindful of the earlier two wasted attempts, he shepherded the ball towards the open goal before tapping in from an inch out.
It looked to be game over, but Mossley got a lifeline with a late penalty, scuffed in even with the keeper going the right way. Six minutes of stoppage time wasn’t enough for them to get the draw though, with a very good looking shout for handball being as near as they got. If only they’d had a Kenny Carrick* or Neville Davitt* on their books.
* ex star players of the once-strong Barnstoneworth United, Michael Palin’s team that lost 1-8 to Brighouse, as mentioned here…