Manchester League September 2017
The Manchester League September 2017 was the first session of the Autumn league programme. Fourteen teams in 3 divisions kicked of the season on a fine sunny day at the Heywood Sports Village.
Vintage Celtic, winners of the Spring league were sporting their new kit, sponsored by Bohle Ltd. Due to the late withdrawal of Paul O’Neil with knee ligament damage, Celtic found themselves without a recognised striker. In consequence it was always going to be difficult in a division with some quality teams in it.
With a squad of only seven players, further injury would be a real problem and has it turned out this was to be the case. First up in this Manchester League September 2017 session were the competitive Chadderton FC WF team and a 0-0 score was the final result, despite some excellent long range shooting from both Brian Coll and Derek Drabble.
Rochdale AFC Strollers, the recent over 65’s cup winners, were next on the fixture list and possession was divided equally in this game. Both teams had chances to score, however the game finished with another 0-0 result. Unfortunately Brian Coll suffered a recurrence of his old knee problems and that was the end of his participation for the day and possibly his future playing involvement with Vintage Celtic. As captain and playmaker, plus one of the few Celtic players who can put the ball in the opponents net, this is a massive blow to the club.
With Celtic down to the now customary bare bones, further injuries would be disastrous. Eric Williams, not really fit to start the day anyway, soldiered on regardless and was a rock in defence. A nightmare to play against, having Eric on your side is far preferential than having to play against him.
The third fixture saw Celtic up against the newly promoted Rochdale Striders. In this game Celtic could have had a hat full of goals but we just couldn’t get the ball in the Striders net and the final score was once again another 0-0 draw.
The fourth and final fixture of the day in this Manchester League September 2017 session was versus our local rivals Nash Amblers. Possession was equally shared in this encounter and both teams had chances to win the game but once again the final score was a 0-0 draw. Barry Whitmore suffered a thigh muscle strain early in the game and admitted he had a problem turning to defend but like Eric he managed to see out the fixtures.
So what conclusions, if any, could be formed about this Manchester League September 2017 days events? Well, obviously we knew we were up against it from the start with only a bare seven squad members but all the lads put in a shift, as they always do, gave their all and no one could criticise any of them for their commitment and general play.
Perhaps long range shooting in goals of this small size isn’t the answer, swift passing and movement to get in position nearer the oppositions area gives a more realistic chance of getting those elusive goals. Obviously we need another natural striker or preferably two to give us more options up front. With our current members who fit the bill either working or under age, until we find a solution nothing will change.
Defensively we are sound, in this league we have only conceded one goal, an own goal at that, in a nineteen game unbeaten run and have now gone thirteen games without a goal against. Our problem is that in those nineteen games we have only scored eight goals despite being Spring champions.
Thanks to all the lads who turned out today, Brian Coll, Derek Drabble, Mike Kieran, Mike Taylor, Tony Wade, Barry Whitmore, and Eric Williams. Brian and Eric’s contribution have already been mentioned but what of the others? Mike K, our veteran keeper, who won the Spring league Golden Gloves award, once again made some excellent saves and looks likely to reprise his award in the Autumn league.
Barry, was his usual dependable self with excellent mobility and space finding, always ready to receive the ball in tight situations. Derek, on another day could have scored a good few goals, but as we have mentioned long range shooting isn’t the answer at Heywood. Despite that, Derek controlled the play in midfield and had an excellent day’s football.
Mike T, always happy to turn up and support the team, despite not getting much game time, had a great day and his contribution couldn’t be faulted. Since starting walking football, he has improved considerably, especially his defending and is now a valuable squad member.
Finally, we have the unflappable Tony, who never lets you down and alongside Eric at the back we have two defenders who must take credit for our defensive record. Tony, like Barry is very mobile and covers a lot of ground in matches.
Let’s not forget Gordon Fenton, another one who always puts the club first. Gordon has guested for Maccabi Old Codgers for the last two league sessions and has become a valuable loan keeper for them.
If only we could find that striker or two, we would have an over 60’s team that would take some stopping. All the division tables and results are on the FA Full Time website. The full report on the league session is HERE.