Tytherington Rocks v New College Academy
Saturday 7th April
Uhlsport Hellenic League Division One West
Hardwicke Playing Fields
Attendance: 45 (ish)
Swifts. Casuals. Angels. Supermarine. All good team suffixes. But Rocks is a winner. A clear winner. Tytherington Rocks sounds more like a "Battle of the Bands" competition, attended by various, pre-pubescent, Green Day tribute acts staged in a dank village hall, rather than a football team on the way up. I like it.
Part four of the AiT titled "Road Signs in Grounds"
The Rocks history contains a couple of comedy nuggets. Formed in 1896 the club originally travelled to away matches by Waggonette, a type of four wheeled horse draw cart. It gets better. The club disbanded in the 1920's after being suspended for failure to pay a fine imposed after a some dodgy decisions saw a referee jostled into an adjoining brook! When I rule football all teams will be forced to arrive for FA Cup finals by waggonette and managers who moan about referee's will be dunked into a pond.
Don't go in there! It's a trap!! There's crocodiles behind there.
Anyway, enough of the past. The future is bright for Tytherington Rocks, but not quite bright enough. They're playing at the highest level in their history and, last weekend, secured the Hellenic League Division One West title. Sadly it looks like they won't be allowed promotion as they don't have floodlights (I'm starting a whip round to buy them these). They do have swings and a tiny stand that's wedged in a luscious hedge though. Surely that's enough?
First time I've seen dugouts bigger than a stand. Small. Far away.
The clubhouse celebrates the past and the plots the future of the club. The walls are covered with photos of previous teams (each one seemingly including someone mugging to the camera), old kits, photos of men carrying trays of tea, a letter from “Darren and the Tauntonhoppers”, a huge sign commemorating this seasons title win (including the club badge, which appears to be two iced gems tumbling rapidly down a disappointingly performing line graph, all being watched over by a hovering hubcap). Amongst all this are posters for meetings to discuss ways to raise the funds needed for them pesky light bulbs.
Bristolian tinpot honours don't get much bigger than this. To see one this recent is a great honour. *wipes tear*
Who can forget that magical day when Chris Waddle just happened to be passing in his full Sheffield Wednesday kit? Eh....
Idea for improvement: Referee torture chamber.
The Rocks pen pics show that the squad consists of a bunch of weather beaten tinpot warriors and a diminutive striker who looks identical to M People's bongo player Shovel. The New College pen pics introduce a squad who are all under 20, have ridiculous quiffs and are introduced by top banter (*shudder*) laden comments like “loves cling film”, “loves bling” and “loves his little sister”.
There goes the ref! Get him! To the river boys!!!
Who can forget the magical day when a terrible performance led to one referee being buried alive under the clubhouse. Some people say whenever a linesman makes a bad offside call you can still hear the screams from this referee. Others say it's just the pea stuck in the ref's whistle.
Ten minutes before kick off a fully kitted out linesman strolls in the clubhouse, enquires about the early Premier League result, has a friendly chat with everyone and wanders out again. I misread the mood and getting him in a headlock and trying to dunk him in a bucket of cold water was an act of misguided folly.
Um....games the other way chaps.
Rocks dominate and produce passing moves slicker than a polished granite worktop. Shovel swipes the legs of a walking Topman mannequin, the defensive outcrop captain barks orders continually, the left back greets defensive headers with an almighty "fuuuuck", one of the subs carefully fetches a tray of teas and walking stick shaking pensioners offer their own bizarre encouragement, "get into his head, he'll be a winner if you get into his head". It's pretty easy to see why they've been so successful this season; tea and walking sticks. That and scoring five more goals than the opposition always helps.
So, let me get this straight. That's a sign saying the "league now operates Zero Tolerance towards the use of 'Inappropriate Language'" with a mega swear word? Good work!
Goal one comes just before half time, from defender Tony Perry, and then it's all back to the clubhouse, where there's uproar from one OAP at the content of the pasties, "do you have to pay extra for meat?"
The home subs go through a rigorous warm up routine of booting the ball at each others nutsacks. Those on the pitch adhere to the tactics, which consist of the non league staple, "squeeeeeeeezzzze" with additional "put our stamp on it" and the innovative "get on your tippies" formation for combating set pieces.
Jack Smyth goes on a jinking run and smashes the ball in, shortly afterwards captain Andy Criddle scores a header which brings a forward roll celebration. A few minutes later Criddle then queries a throw in call by the inquisitive linesman with a jocular shout of "controversial linesman". The referee fails to see the humour and issues a ticking off, which brings the flirty retort of "I'm having a bit of fun....he knows I love him". Attitudes towards officials clearly have changed substantially in the last 90 years. From drowning to unrequited love.
There's two more goals for Rocks before the end, as the Swindon defence crumbles like a permeable sandstone, taking their tally to 101 for the season.
For more on Tytherington Rocks, their history and their battle for floodlights have a look here.