Next Saturday we venture into Derbyshire to play Buxton. Always a pleasant trip over the Roaches, but only if the weather is fine. Buxton took home a point from our recent encounter at Marston Road and will be looking to take all three on a surface Stafford Rangers never do well on. Last Saturday Buxton picked up a very creditable draw at table toppers South Shields, so a side who a few months ago looked to be one of our relegation colleagues, now lead Rangers by 10 points. Buxton are currently on a 5-league game unbeaten run although many have been draws. However, in that run they lost 3-1 away to Newcastle Town in the Integro Cup. Okay we may not know the strength of Buxton line up for the cup game, but it was played out in front of only 75 fans. As we soon travel to Newcastle for a Staffs Senior Cup game, could it be that despite our current plight, we may take more fans to that game than the home team.
At home in the league Buxton have won 3, drawn 5 and lost 7. Out of the 3 wins they include a 7-0 over Grantham and a 5-0 over Scarborough. They did however lose 1-2 at home to Atherton, the side directly above us. Therefore, it appears the game could go either way, but while 3 points are up for grabs, then we must take them and put to rest our hoodoo on synthetic pitches.
Situated 1000 feet above sea level, the Silverlands is the highest ground within the Pyramid of soccer. We have played Buxton many times in the old Cheshire League, but they gained entry into the Northern Premier league in season73/74, and we met each season in the seventies till our move up the leagues, whereas Buxton dipped down with two relegations to the Northern Countries east in 1997 and 1998. They returned to the Northern Premier fold with promotion to NPL 1 in 2006
Our paths met up again from season 2011/12 and since then there have been 6 NPL fixtures between Buxton and Stafford Rangers with Rangers winning 1, drawing2 and losing 3, a run we certainly need to turn around.
Travelling fans need to use Sat Nav SK17 6QH, but street parking is the only choice amid residential streets and the police headquarters. Train travellers beware as you must go to Stockport to change for a Buxton train.
Games played on 29TH February this century.
February 29th only comes around every 4 years and as such we have yet to play a game on this date this century. Therefore, I look at games played either side, on February 28th and March 1st.
2004 Crawley H 0-1 Southern Premier League
2006 Woking H 2-4 F A Trophy round 4 replay
2009 Burscough A 0-2 Conference North
2012 Northwich V H 1-1 Northern Premier League
2015 Sheffield H 0-0 Northern Premier League Division 1
2003 Folkstone A 2-1 Southern Premier League
2005 Gainsborough H 2-0 Conference North
2008 Farsley H 0-2 Conference
2011 Redditch A 1-0 Conference North
2014 Stamford A 0-1 Northern premier League
This Saturday we welcome Morpeth for their first ever visit to Marston Road. This must be the longest journey Morpeth have had to make for a league game. Historically the traditional Northern League side were happy to play in the North East with the odd trip to Wembley in the FA Vase. Now, with promotion to step 4, many of the progressive ex Northern League sides are seeing the benefit of playing in the pyramid and they now wish to emulate Spennymoor and South Shields. Marske and Dunston are currently flying the North East flag in Division 1. Last season Morpeth won division 1 with a 12-point margin over second placed Pontefract and are certainly holding their own this season. The ex-Northern League sides at first found traveling a big problem but this season Morpeth on the road in the league have won 5, drawn 2 and lost 6, showing signs very much of a comfortable min table side, supported by their current 10th place in the table.
On the road they can count a victory at Warrington as their best performance and in the main they have beaten most of our relegation rivals so Saturday’s game cannot be seen as an easy ride for us. With the exception of Bamber Bridge their defeats have all come at top sides. Morpeth come into the fixture with current form of 2 wins, a draw and 2 defeats, again cementing their mid table placing.
Morpeth was established in 1909. In 1936 they joined the Northern Alliance in 1936. They won that league in 1984, and when becoming champions again in 1994 they were promoted to the Northern League division 2. Promotion was secured in their second season, but relegation followed 2010. 2013 saw them regain their spot in division 1. The 2015–16 season saw Morpeth reach the final of the FA Vase at Wembley Stadium, where they defeated Hereford 4–1 to win the competition. After finishing as runners-up again in 2017–18, they were promoted to Division One East of the Northern Premier League at step 4, wining that step to join us in step 3
Although a small own, several famous people came from Morpeth. The great sailor Admiral Lord Collingwood, who was Admiral Nelson’s second-in-command at the Battle of Trafalgar, came from Morpeth. He lived in Collingwood House, which is now marked by a plaque. A more controversial figure was Emily Davison, who campaigned for women to get the vote in the early 20th century. She was killed at the Epsom Derby in 1913 when she ran in front of the king’s racehorse. She was buried in Morpeth, and her gravestone can still be seen. Morpeth survived World War II relatively unscathed, though several pillboxes were built to defend the river crossing and the main road north. The closest the war came was when a Heinkel 111 German bomber, crashed close to Howburn Wood. Morpeth also lies on the main London Edinburgh main line and trains have to slow to negotiate a very sharp curve near the station. Sadly, there have been two serious rail disasters here. Can we derail Morpeth to get 3 much needed points on Saturday?
Games played on February22nd this century.
2014 Blyth H 2-2 Norther Premier League
F C United preview
This Tuesday night we travel to the new home of F C United. I fully expect a few Rangers fans to travel as potentially it could be our only opportunity to play them at their Broadhurst Park ground. We have played away to F C united in the past as they travelled up the leagues from their inception. Their history is well documented being formed from disgruntled fans of the Glazier takeover at Manchester United. We first came up against them following their rise from the North West Counties Leagues to gain quick promotion to the Northern Premier League, as we fell out of the Conference North. Season 2011/12 saw the away game at their temporary ground at Gigg Lane Bury and we came away with a 2-1 victory. The following season we lost 3-0. Season 2013/14 was even worse as in our relegation season we lost 4-0. Let’s hope we can reverse the trend as we visit their new stadium for the first time.
FC United currently lie 5th, within the play off paces with a home record of won 7, drawn 2 and lost 4. Apart from Lancaster, all their wins have come against bottom half sides and their 4 defeats with the exception of local derby Hyde, have come from sides in the top 6. Form guide makes interesting reading as they have 3 draws and 2 wins to our 3 draws and a win and defeat. If we can continue our fight against relegation, it could be an interesting encounter.
Hopefully, with many fans travelling on Tuesday night, you need the following essential information. Broadhurst Park is located just two miles from the centre of Manchester, postcode M40 0FJ. However, you need to be aware of parking restrictions as parking near the ground is extremely limited and you are advised not to park in restricted areas on and around St Mary’s Road, Nuthurst Rd and Moston Lane. Designated car parks are available for a charge of £5 at the ground, and for £3 at the nearby St Matthew’s School, only 3 minutes’ walk from the ground. The free shuttle busses will not be operating for this fixture. Personally, I am quite surprised by all the parking restrictions considering this is a new build ground and would certainly have had to comply with rigorous planning applications.
Once you have parked you now need to be aware of issues relating to getting into the ground. Turnstiles open at 6.30pm, but between 5.30pm and 6.30pm, fans wishing to access the Main Stand function room bar can gain admission via Main Reception by cash payment. Only two stands will be open for this game, the North and West stands will be closed for this fixture. Seating will be tight, so any fans wishing to sit in the main stand will have to reserve a seat in one block of the Main Stand on a first come first served basis, by calling the FC United office 24 hours before kick-off on 0161 769 2005. Those who have reserved seating need to collect a wristband from the FC United office accessible through the main reception on the day of the match. These wristbands will only be available until the kick-off time of the match.
So once in, let’s hope we can enjoy the game and hope for three points.
Games played on February 18 this century.
2006 Leigh H 0-0 Conference North
2012 Ashton H 1-2 Northern Premier League
2017 Workington H 3-2 Northern Premier League
This Saturday we venture to the North East to take on Whitby. We now are on a run of 7 unbeaten games, although the 5 league games see only one win but 4 draws. We will however try to clutch at straws as we try to extend this run. Whitby are on a current form run of 3 wins and 2 draws. They returned on Saturday with a good 3-1 win at Mickleover, so our task looks very difficult. Whitby are a typical mid table side with home league form of 5 wins, 3draws and 4 defeats. Wins include teams like South Shields, Morpeth and Scarborough, so they do well in derby’s, but recorded losses to Warrington and F C United. However, they did lose at home to Bamber Bridge.
We have played games at Whitby since our drop from the Conference North into the Northern Premier League from season 2011/12. Our first visit saw us lose 3-1, followed by a 4-0 defeat the following season. The next season was our relegation season and we lost the last game of the season 2-1. There then followed a two-season gap until we got out of Division 1. The first meeting in the current era saw us fare better with a 2-2 draw, followed by a goalless draw. Last season on April 16th we recorded our first victory at the Turnbull Ground on Upgang Lane.
That game saw us with similar aims as now, as that victory boosted our survival hopes. Tom Thorley scored inside two minutes and Jake Charles missed a couple of chances to add to the lead in a five-minute spell. Andrai Jones’ headed a corner onto his own crossbar in the first half. Louis Briscoe doubled the lead with a 25-yard free kick a minute into added time at the end of the first half. Whitby created a nervy finish in the dying minutes as Adam Siviter could only parry Greg Rutherford’s shot and Bradley Fewster tapped in the rebound. Rangers held on for 3 valuable points, and in the process record our first win over Whitby at the 12th attempt. Our squad that date featured 9 players who are still with us now, although 2 of those are long term injured.
Some interesting facts about Whitby include that Captain James Cook, learned his seafaring skills in Whitby and that Whitby has close connections to the novel Dracula in that Bram Stoker stayed in Whitby while writing parts the famous novel. Stoker was inspired by the moody atmosphere of the town and took inspiration from landmarks such as Whitby Abbey. This adds to the gothic nature of the town with a regular Goth weekend, thankfully in April this year, although Rangers fans would be welcome with black in our colours. Whaling was once big in Whitby with the most prominent reminder being the Whalebone Arch which can be found on the top of the West Cliff near to the football ground. Whitby once had a thriving jewellery industry using the rare gemstone, Whitby Jet. This gemstone, even today, can be found in the coastline around Whitby. However, to most people Whitby is famous for fish and chips, boasting some of the best fish and chip shop in the UK.
Those travelling to Whitby will need to travel by road using the post code of YO21 3HZ. Whitby does have a railway station, but with only 6 trains per day, you will need to overnight twice in Middlesbrough.
Games played on Feb 15th this century
2000 Shepshed Dynamo H 3-0 Southern League Division 1 West
2011 Hednesford H 4-2 Staffs Senior Cup
2014 Blyth Spartans H 2-2 Northern Premier League
It comes around again, and it’s the “old firm derby”. Okay it’s not the Glasgow version, but it adds a bit of spice for any Rangers v Celtic fixture. This season has good memories with our game at Bower Fold last October saw us record our first three points of the season. We now have the opportunity to record our first double of the season. Something potentially made a bit easy in the knowledge that Stalybridge have sold their leading marksman to South Shields. Darius Osei has moved, having scored 14 goals for Stalybridge this season. They will no doubt have an adequate replacement so cannot take too much into that but remember that in all competitions we are now 6 games unbeaten, so yet again something to build on if the great escape is possible.
When you look at the league table you would think that a side in 22nd and bottom spot at home to a side lying 8th with 20 more points, you would expect to be a banker away win. Especially when you see that Stalybridge away league record this season is 6 wins, 3 draws and 5 defeats. However, in our last 5 league games we have one win, 3 draws and a defeat while Stalybridge have one draw and 4 defeats in their last five games. Can we catch them on a downward slide and add to their poor run of form? Our last two games have seen us get a well-deserved point away at 7th placed Witton and a dogged 10 man fight to secure a draw against Buxton.
Could Stalybridge be the next to fall to our revival. If you get to the game Saturday, you may be in a position to see that. Keep the faith, the great escape has only just started.
Games played on February 8th this century.
2003 Worcester H 2-1 Southern League
As our manager Andy Fearn says, we are now 5 games unbeaten and we look to extend that against potential relegation colleagues, Buxton. Our draw at 7th pace Witton was well deserved, fighting back twice to level, against a side who the week before had taken all three points at table toppers South Shields. Witton scored two goals in the final minutes, much like Buxton who scored twice in the last couple of minutes to win at Grantham. The bottom of the league now looks very interesting as while we lie bottom, we are 8 points away from 4 sides on 25 points. Okay 3 of those 4 have games in hand on us, but a win over Buxton will close the gap and potentially suck 17th place Buxton back into the melting pot. It all adds to what could be an enthralling fixture.
On their travels Buxton have won 3, drawn 4 and lost 6. Interestingly 2 of the 3 wins were at relegation candidates Grantham and Matlock, so we need to be on our guard to maintain our run for the great escape. We still have to ply Buxton twice, Atherton twice along with Matlock and Ashton, all sides in that group we aim to catch, so it is anybody who could go down, and of course we hope it is not us in the final two places. The 20th placed side still could go down, but on current forecasts the NPL place should be save. However, those leagues like ours will go to the wire so it is 19th for guaranteed safety. We need the faith to ensure it is in our remit to gain that place.
Tuesday night I therefore very important to get another 500+ gate to cheer on the team. Since our return to the NPL we have lost this fixture 3 times, so it is essential we put an end to that sequence. See you Tuesday night.
Games played on February 4th this century
2006 Forest Green Rovers H 2-1 F A Trophy round 3
2017 Buxton H 1-2 Northern Premier League