Soccer Magazine

Half A 'Hop

By Smidrophenia

Friday 1st March 2024

908. Windleshaw Sports Ground

FC St Helens 1-0 Daisy Hill

NWCFL First Division North

7.45pm ko

Half A 'Hop

I previously visited the town of St Helens at Langtree Park in 2014 and again in 2019, at Ruskin Drive, as part of the 2019 NWCL Hop.

Half A 'Hop
FC St Helens formed in 2014, following a split from St Helens Town reserves, initially entered the West Cheshire League.

West Cheshire League Division 3 - 2014-15

Cheshire League in 2015 - 2022 Premier Division champions 2021 -22

North West Counties League Division One North 2022 - present

Finished 3rd in their debut season in Division 1 North 

Half A 'Hop
Half A 'Hop

Windleshaw Sports Ground

Windleshaw Road, 

Denton's Green, 

Saint Helens, 

Lancashire WA10 6TD

The Windleshaw Sports Ground is a site of great historical significance in the town, as it's also the headquarters of St Helens Cricket Club and once the home of St Helens RFC until their move to Knowsley Road in 1890.  

The ground has a standard covered seated stand on one side in between the dugouts and corner flag. Opposite is the clubhouse, club shop and food outlets with a warm up pitch along the side.

Half A 'Hop
Half A 'Hop
Half A 'Hop

FC St Helens 1(Hall 24)

Daisy Hill 0

Matchday 28

1st v 14th



Admission £5

Pin badge £3

Coffee £1.50, Cheese pasty £2.50 chocolate 50p

The match was settled midway through the first half. Josh Hall was denied the opener from the penalty spot when the keeper made a fine save, then just a few minutes later a challenge on the goalkeeper looped into the air and dropped to his feet for an easy tap-in. 

Surprisingly that was the only goal as both teams created plenty of chances, with the hosts hitting the woodwork twice and the away side also denied by the frame of the goal. 

Half A 'Hop
Half A 'Hop
Half A 'Hop

Saturday 2nd March 2024

909.Inglewhite Road

Longridge Town 2-3 Padiham

NWCFL Premier Division

11am ko

Half A 'Hop

Longridge is a market town and civil parish in the borough of Ribble Valley in Lancashire, situated 8 miles north-east of Preston and at the western end of Longridge Fell, a long ridge above the River Ribble. ( population over 7,500)

Longridge Town

Half A 'Hop
 formed in 1996 following a merger between Longridge St Wilfrid's and Longridge United. They started in the Preston & District League, winning the Centenary Guildhall Cup in 2005.  Promotions saw the club reach the Premier Division, and a second-place finish in 2005–06 saw them step up to the West Lancashire League in 2008.

West Lancashire League 2009 - 2018: Division One champions 2011–12, Premier Division champions 2017–18

North West Counties Division One 2018 - present: Division One North champions 2018–19.

Half A 'Hop
Half A 'Hop

The Recycling Lives Ground 

Inglewhite Road, 



Lancashire PR3 2NA

All the amenities are down one side of the ground. - the main stand, clubhouse, refreshment bar and a covered terrace enclosure. There's another covered terrace between the corner and the goal, with the rest of the ground open. The dugouts are on the far side where there's no spectator access. 

Half A 'Hop
Half A 'Hop

Longridge Town 2(Homson-Smith 20 Marshall 45+1)

Padiham 3(Price 27 Brownhill 37 James 79)

Matchday 37 

21st v 7th



Admission £7

Cappuccino £1

The hosts took the lead with a neat turn and left footed curler from Morgan Homson-Smith, but Padiham quickly turned it around. Good left wing play saw the ball squared to Jack Price to fire in, then a defensive error allowed Joel Brownhill to put them ahead.

It was all square just before the break, when a ball was played across the box to Mitchell Marshall, who fired in an unstoppable shot into the top bins.  

The second half could have gone either way but it was Padiham who took all three points when Tyler James dribbled through the defence and fired home the winner.

Half A 'Hop
Half A 'Hop
Half A 'Hop

910.The Riverside

Garstang 3-2 Ashton Town

NWCFL First Division North 

2pm ko

Half A 'Hop

Garstang is an ancient market town and civil parish within the Wyre borough of Lancashire, 10 miles north of Preston and the same distance south of Lancaster.

(population over 4,000) Garstang is famous for being the world's first ever “Fairtrade Town” influencing many other towns and cities around the U.K. to work towards the same purpose. 

It is mentioned in the Domesday Book as ‘Cherestanc’, and there’s been many adaptations of the name over the years.

The town name translates as "'gore by the boundary pole", "spear post", "triangular piece of land" which signifies the site of a meeting-space. The Saxon derivation 'Gaerstung' probably refers to the historic market cross at this same site.

Half A 'Hop
Half A 'Hop

Garstang FC

Half A 'Hop
was established in 1885, and became members of the Preston & District League. The club won the league's Guildhall Cup in 1927 and remained in the league all the way up to 1994, when they moved up to Division Two of the West Lancashire League.

West Lancashire League 1994 - 2018 : Premier Division champions 2007–08, 2017–18, Presidents Cup winners 1999–2000, Richardson Cup winners 2017–18

North West Counties League Division One North 2018 - present

Half A 'Hop
Half A 'Hop

The Riverside 

Lancaster Road, 


Lancashire PR3 1EB

The club played at the Beeches before moving to the Riverside in the mid-1960s, located next to the River Wyre. A small stand was built behind the dugouts, but was removed in 2006 due to vandalism. Nowadays there's two covered sections behind the goal next to the paying entrance. The clubhouse is behind the goal, and again, this ground is three sides due to the neighbouring cricket ground.

Half A 'Hop
Half A 'Hop

Garstang 3(Darley 24 Ball 33 Bailey 50)

Ashton Town 2(Lomax 67 Ready 70pen)

Matchday 28/26

16th v 5th



Admission £6

Coffee £1.50

This match had a 10.30am pitch inspection and the club played a blinder to get the game on. The Riversiders were totally in control of the game when Joel Darley deflected in a Harris Bailey shot, followed by Theo Ball finishing off a quick counter attack to make it 2-0 at half time. When Harris Bailey curled in a fabulous shot into the top corner of the net five minutes after the restart, it looked like it was game over. 

Ashton Town kept plugging away with Chris Lomax finishing off a well worked move, then with twenty minutes remaining Conor Ready fired in a penalty to make it 3-2. 

The visitors were denied an equaliser with a good save quickly followed by a goal line clearance, but The Stang held on, and also had chances to extend their lead in a hectic final fifteen minutes. 

Half A 'Hop
Half A 'Hop


Current NWCL grounds visited 38/60

330 mile round trip drive door-to-door

This was a solo road trip, departing Gallowgate View at 9.10 and arriving in Leyland two and half hours later (after driving through a storm on the M6) for my bonus match at the Leyland Sports Ground. The match was due to kick off at 1pm, but just as I arrived the referee was doing a pitch inspection and had no hesitation in calling off the Burnley U-21 v Coventry City U-21 fixture. I wasn’t the only Groundhopper who arrived in the area early to tick off this ground, as I spotted a lot of familiar and totally pissed off faces in the car park. 

This meant I had a few hours to kill before booking into the Ibis Hotel, which is north of Preston, just off the M6. The Leyton Lion was handy for some bait and numerous cups of tea and coffee, then I had a cheeky half in the Market Ale House. 

The rest of my plans went perfectly and without any hitches. I only planned to do the first three games of the NWFL Groundhop, because I’ve already been to the two grounds in Blackpool which formed the rest of the Saturday schedule. I was back home at 6.15 on Saturday evening and I was sad to learn that both of the later games fell foul to the weather. (so I imagine there were  a lot more pissed-off faces!)

Half A 'Hop

It was an enjoyable trip and it's always good to meet up again with like minded friends. I also met Angus “Statto” Loughran, who those of a certain age will remember from the 1990s TV show Fantasy Football League. We chatted for about half an hour, and he told me lots of interesting and informative football stories, plus shared his success in betting on football matches. He’s a really nice bloke, hopefully our paths will cross again in the future.

(last picture courtesy of Simon Lee)

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