Saturday 7th July 2012
Pre Season Friendly
BARNTON 0 RUNCORN TOWN 1
Attendance: 75 (Unofficial)
Tea Hut Stuff: Nothing today thank you
Weather: Grey but dry, odd sunny spell, a bit humid
Parking: Side street 2 minutes from the ground
I'm going to be watching a number of games concerning North West Counties League sides this season so there was no better start to the 2012-13 Tea Hut campaign than catching a game involving last seasons NWCL runners up Runcorn Town, in my opinion, the most entertaining side in the Premier Division last term. Early season friendlies are little more than leg stretchers and fitness exercises but its great to see some live football again, even better is the fact that you can find some great new grounds to visit as plenty of lower league sides take on the more established outfits. Today was no exception, Barnton FC ply their trade in the Cheshire Association, rumour has it that they could well be on the up this season, a new management team, Ian Ross and Kevin Towey have been brought in alongside a host of decent new signings (apparently) from the Merseyside area. The game against a strong Runcorn Town would give them an ideal opportunity to put a few plans into practice. Barnton is a small quite place just outside Northwich, not many shops or pubs, in fact they turned one of the pubs into an Antique Centre which now holds very popular fortnightly auctions (I've been there myself in the past). Runcorn is not too far away and a good many people congregating outside the wooden clubhouse in the run up to kick off seemed to know each other. Luke warm cans of cheap lager seemed to be the chosen tipple (possibly only tipple?), it looked more like a beer festival than an early friendly game. Apparently another game had just ended at the Townfield Ground and it appeared some of the players were relaxing and having a few pints amongst the spectators arriving for the headline event. It was hard to estimate an attendance for todays match mainly due to the large squads both Barnton and Town were using today, there appeared to be be a decent turnout though, probably around the 70 to 80 figure, although some of these were in tracksuits and kit. I'd presumed it would be free entry and was a little surprised to see an official at the gate asking for a £3 entrance fee. Especially as the game was obviously going to have massive quotas of substitutions, it eventually panned out that each side played with a completely different side for each half. Without going into Frugal Glenn mode, me thinks a quid would be more than enough to get in for an exercise and fitness run out (never mind, at least you got a programme thrown in, even if it was just an A4 sheet folded in half). Despite record breaking rainfall recently, the Townfield pitch looked in tremendous condition, not a puddle or a bog in site, especially as quite a few North West friendlies had earlier been called off for waterlogging problems. The ground at Barnton is very neat and tidy with a clubhouse and changing rooms at one end adjacent to the Memorial Hall behind the nets.
There is a very small covered enclosure on either side of the pitch, these provide a bit of shelter should it rain and also contain a few loose benches and some random chairs.
The rest of the layout is just a railed fence and plenty of well trimmed grass backing onto hedges and local housing. The first half witnessed the home side evenly matching a stuttering Runcorn Town side. Both teams had at least 3 clear cut bankers which were all fluffed, saying that both goalkeepers had very good games and were the only players who stayed on the pitch the whole game (the Runcorn keeper eventually went off injured with 5 minutes to go, twisted ankle I think). A scrappy scuffed strike gave the visitors a 1-0 lead but Barnton had matched the NWCL side throughout the first 45 minutes. Town looked weak at the back, out of sorts in midfield and lightweight up front. There were a few neat passages of play from the visitors but last seasons trademark quality was missing for the most part.
As already mentioned, 2 new line ups took the field for the second half and it was a more impressive and determined Runcorn Town performance which ultimately forced Barnton into a more defensive orientated strategy. We finally got a look at some of the wonderful football that Town had played last season, it was still rough and ready, which one could expect so early into the pre season but the class and craft is still there, it just needs a good polish. It could have ended up around 6-2 to the visitors but remarkably there were no further goals, the Barnton keeper was superb. I went away happy to see a game again, not much to learn for the new season from this encounter but nice to visit Barnton FC all the same.