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A message from Leek - Arrangements for Saturday

I’m Brian Spittles, a representative of the Ground Safety officer at Harrison Park, the ground used by Leek CSOB and Leek Town FC. CSOB (commonly referred to as "The Old Boys") are the tenants but, because the ground safety certificate is held by a director of Leek Town FC, responsibility for your safety lies with people like me.

On a personal note, I’ve followed Leek Town for 27 years and have run the unofficial website at www.leektown.co.uk for the last six.

NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL

What you’re going to experience this season will be unlike anything most of you will have ever imagined. Clubs that are run by a committee of five 80-year-olds, grounds with very little shelter from the elements, clubhouses that hold 20 people and run out of beer, crowds that barely reach three figures (except you won’t see that!) and players that don’t even get expenses. Not every club in the NWCL are like this, as I’m sure the poster from New Mills will testify!

For every one of these clubs, your visit will be the biggest event in living memory.

Preparation for your opening day visit to Leek started weeks ago and will continue up until after the game kicks-off. Some clubs you visit may not be as well organised as we are, and on those occasions I would hope you will be patient and understanding. The people you meet will probably have been involved at this level of football for most of their lives. To them, you will bring more money that they would normally see all season, but you will also bring plenty of headaches. Everyone will want you to succeed, so long as it isn’t at the expense of their own club!

BEHAVIOR

There is very little crowd trouble at non-league football. At NWC level, there is almost certainly none. This aspect of your visit will be the most fearful for those involved; everyone at FCUoM should take responsibility to ensure that these fears are ill founded. However, as you were all MUFC fans, fans of other clubs will see you as fair game. I’m not talking about the clubs you are visiting, but bigger professional clubs in their area.

If you see any trouble brewing, or hear of any being planned, please let the police know. Don’t give the idiot element any opportunity to bring down the name of FCUoM before you’ve even started.

HARRISON PARK

There’s some decent pictures on this forum of the ground and I hope you’ll find it a pleasant venue for watching the game. The only facility we lack is a bus stop!

The four sides of the ground are: the stand side (because it’s where the stand is), the Macclesfield Road end, the Kiln Lane End and the Grace Street side. There will be no segregation and movement behind whichever goal you are attacking is almost mandatory at non-league football.

Both ends are completely covered. There is no cover on the stand side, other than in the stand itself, although the terracing in front of the stand is dry depending on which way the wind is blowing! Grace Street is covered for about two-thirds of its length.

Parking

There will be no parking for supporters available at the ground or on the roads outside the ground. Harrison Park is not in residential area, so there are no surrounding roads in which to park.

We have arranged for private cars to be parked on two pieces of land, each about half a mile from the ground. The first is on Abbey Road, to the North of Mill Street. Once this is full, drivers will be directed to an area on the Macclesfield Road close to the cricket club further out from town. These will both be fully signposted if you drive in from the Macclesfield direction, will cost £2 per car and will be available from 1pm onwards.

There is very limited parking for disabled badge holders. Please email me on spittles@freeuk.com to book a place. Please do not abuse this facility. Anyone found to be using a disabled badge inappropriately is liable to have it confiscated by the police.

Facilities for coaches are still under discussion. We are negotiating with a local coach company to allow all coaches to be parked on their grounds during the game. I’ll post more details when I have them.

Please note that the town of Leek has limited car parking and that traffic wardens will be on patrol!

Food & Drink

There will be limited catering inside the ground. This will be pies and hot drinks only. See below for details of food and drink establishments available before the game. The clubhouse will not be open on the afternoon of the game and no alcohol will be allowed into the ground.

Turnstiles

Our biggest crowd last season was about 1200, for which kick off was delayed by 20 minutes. However, that was for a cash-only game and only three turnstiles were open. For your match, six turnstiles will be open and, with it being all-ticket, entry should be much quicker. Please don’t wait until five to three and expect to walk straight in!

There will be three turnstiles open at the top of the driveway (that’s on the stand side) and three at the bottom of the driveway. Stewards will be around to assist you if required. Anyone who requires access for pushchairs or wheelchairs should notify a steward.

Toilets

There are two sets of toilets in the ground. One is part of the clubhouse and will be open even though the clubhouse is closed. The other set is at the Macclesfield Road end of the Grace Street terrace. There is also a gents-only "behind a brick wall" style urinal at the Macclesfield Road end of the stand side.

Anyone found using any other part of the ground as a toilet is liable to be ejected.

Perimeter fencing

Please do not cross the perimeter fencing unless requested to do so by a steward or a police officer. Do not sit on the perimeter fencing or allow a child to do so (being hit in the face by the ball is bad enough if you’re standing up - sitting on the fence and falling backwards onto concrete just adds to the pain and embarrassment!)

THE TOWN OF LEEK

There is a street map of Leek here: http://tinyurl.com/8pjc2 Harrison Park is just off this map, to the North West (Mill Street becomes the Macclesfield Road).

Leek is a market town with plenty of pubs. If anyone is coming along with a non-supporter, the shopping in the town is okay unless they are an antiques fan, in which case they will have died and gone to heaven.

It is a good half mile from the ground to the town, and it’s all up a steep hill. Think Stalybridge!

SHOPPING

The main shopping areas are the Smithfield Centre (junction of Haywood Street and Ashbourne Road), Derby Street and the Market Place (circled). Antiques can be found on St Edwards Street, Compton and Cross Street (between Ashbourne Road and Fountain Street).

FOOD

There are a number of cafes on Derby Street. There is an eat-in chippy on the Market Place and on the Smithfield Centre.

Pubs that serve food are:

White Lion (next to the ground)
Dyers Arms (about 300 yards from the ground towards the town)
*The Abbey (about a mile and a half from the ground, follow the yellow road North from Mill Street)
*The Swan (junction of Church Street and St Edwards Street)
The Black Swan (also known as The Mucky Duck, between St Edwards Street and the Market Place)
The Red Lion (Market Place)
*The Quiet Woman (South end of St Edwards St)
The Valiant (between St Edwards Street and the Market Place)
The Roebuck (Derby Street)
*The Moss Rose (the first building in Leek if approaching on the Buxton Road)

*These are pubs suitable for families and won’t appreciate wearing of football shirts or any bad language.

Other pubs include The Cock (Derby Street), The Wilkes Head (for real ale fans) and The Blue Mugge. A special mention for The Blue Mugge, which is on Osborne Street at the other end of town, as it serves excellent cheap food and the landlord is a big MUFC fan (not sure on his views about FCUoM). Harrison Park is named after his father, a former chairman of Leek Town. You’ll get a great welcome there.

Pubs that will be showing the Everton game:

The Dyers Arms
The Red Lion
The Black Swan (probably)
The Valiant (next door to The Quiet Woman)
The Blue Mugge

For after the game, if you’re desperate, there are a number of kebab shops at the North end of St Edwards Street.

Note that the White Lion and Dyers Arms (the two closest pubs) are in discussions with the police about their opening times, so these may be subject to alteration.

POLICE

There will be plenty of police around the town and the ground on the day of the match. This is normal for any big game, so don’t feel picked on. The police will have cameras so that known trouble makers (not necessarily from Manchester) can be identified.

It is hoped that there will be no police in the ground itself unless they are required to attend an incident. There will be plenty of experienced stewards around.

Normal ground regulations apply to non-league football just the same as in the professional game. No knives, flares (lighted things beloved of Italians, not the trousers), alcohol or anything that could be classed as a dangerous weapon, etc, etc. You’re welcome to bring cameras but only those with official press passes will be allowed onto the pitchside.

Anyone entering the playing area before, during or after the game will be liable to be ejected and possibly prosecuted. The players and match officials at this level will not be used to the size of crowd and the party atmosphere we hope you’ll create. If there are any incidents of supporters running onto the pitch (whether clothed or not!), the referee is almost certain to abandon the game.

Excessively foul or abusive language, racist, sexist and homophobic comments are not acceptable at any level of football. Anyone using this kind of language is liable to ejection from the ground and subsequent arrest.

TICKETS

At the time of writing, 1200 tickets have been sold. More can be bought at the ground on Sunday from 10am onwards or from the Box Office in Manchester. No tickets will be sold on the day and there will be no cash turnstiles open.

If you don’t have a ticket, please don’t travel.

Seating tickets must be retained once inside the ground as these will need to be shown when entering the stand. Stewards will be on all three public staircases to the stand to check these tickets. One end of the stand, closest to the half-way line, is reserved for club and league officials.

AND FINALLY

Everyone wants this day to be a success. From a FCUoM point of view, that means the trouble-free launch of your own club (and one in the eye for MG). From a CSOB point of view, it will mean loads of money in the bank and three points. For Leek Town, success will be a party atmosphere with no trouble and lots of FCUoM fans with happy memories of the town. From a police point of view, they’ll want to spot troublemakers and stop them before anything happens.

Let’s hope that everyone involved has a successful day (although only one team can win).

If anyone has any questions about the game, or anything I’ve written, please either post it here or send me an email to spittles@freeuk.com

Many thanks,
Brian

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First Posted ~ 11:55 Fri 5 Aug 2005
News ID ~ 49
Last Updated ~ 09:19 Sun 26 Feb 2006