A defender, a doppleganger and a defeat – Droylsden v New Mills: Evostick Northern Premier League Division 1 North

Posted: 20th August 2014

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The defender was Alex Frost, Droylsden’s new centre back.

The doppleganger was Uncle Graham, a member of the Frost family.

The defeat was for Droylsden as the Bloods lost their second Evostick Northern Premier League Division 1 North league game of the new 2014/15 season to New Mills.

The build up to last night’s enjoyable visit to the Butcher’s Arms began 3-4 years ago when I started chatting to Alex at the local gym here in Oldham.

While I was there attempting to deal with my deteriorating knees, Alex was staying in shape for his non league footballing exploits, mainly with NPL Premier Division side Ashton United where he made over 200 appearances in a 5 year stay after which he moved to Nantwich Town for a season and now on to Droylsden for 2014/15 .

In all that time, I’d never been to see Alex play and as the new season began, I thought I should put that right.

Here’s Alex in his Ashton United days;

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On arrival at the Butcher’s Arms, after working out with the man on the gate where my name was listed on his clip board, I met up with two more gym attendees, Alex’s girlfriend, Melanie and his dad, Michael, former non league player himself, who watches every one of his son’s matches.

Then came the doppleganger.

After chatting to Michael, I turned to watch the players doing their warm-up routines. Turning back around to join Melanie, she was now chatting to Michael but calling him Graham.

Was this an aspect of the Frost entourage which one day, I might find myself doing; namely calling dad Michael by his other name, Graham? Presumably, you did this when you knew him a bit better than I did?

My confusion was sorted out as Melanie explained that this was Michael’s twin brother, Uncle Graham who also comes to watch the games.

With everyone introduced, we sat down to watch the match in the impressive 500 seater main stand which looks out across the pitch and over towards an old mill, a quintessential Lancashire cotton industry image;

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The defeat was hard fought.

While Droylsden had beaten Bamber Bridge 7-1 a few days before in their opening league game, New Mills had lost 2-1 to Burscough.

The match was played at a breakneck speed and Michael explained to me how these days, there is a decreasing number of older players playing at this level, working their way back down the leagues from higher climbs, while most of the players have been in an academy of one of the league clubs.

The phrase ‘it’s a young man’s game’ applies, it seems.

There was a generally high level of skill on show and some breathtaking burst of speed from some of the attacking players.

Droylsden play a passing game and this meant that Alex got a lot of the ball but after New Mills had taken the lead just before half time, it became more necessary to play longer balls to the front players as time ran out.

A few close chances went begging and New Mills held on for their first win.

Droylsden’s aim, is to get promotion back to the NPL Premier League from where they’d been relegated last season and this defeat is a blow. On the other hand,there are 40 games still to go.

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My dodgy knees mean that I rarely go to watch live games these days but every time I do, I really enjoy it, including this match at the Butcher’s Arms.

It was great to finally see Alex play and I was very impressed with his composed performance at the back.

It was also good to be part of the Frost entourage albeit for one evening with Melanie and her friends and Michael and Graham too.

It was especially a pleasure to sit with Michael through the 2nd half and listen to him talking about his football experiences back in the 1960’s and 1970’s and those of Alex from the age of 9 years-old in a journey which has taken him through the junior development programmes of various league clubs, like Oldham Athletic, Rochdale and Burnley and then on to play for Team Bath in the Southern League and then into the high levels of local non league football in the Northern Premier League.

I went home happy although I’m not so sure that the other home fans in the 207 attendance, including my friend Paul who I know from Middleton Cricket Club would have been quite so satisfied.

In fact, there was another cricketing link and another Middleton one through Melanie’s friend Katie who was along to watch the game, as her brother is Scott Stanworth who plays for the Central Lancashire League side, a player who I’ve watched many times over the last few summers.

So the evening started as a Goals one and then had a couple of Wickets injections along the way. Perfect.

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For non league football fans, here’s a link to the excellent nonleaguematters forum;¬†http://nonleaguematters.co.uk/forum/gforum.cgi?

Category: Football - Editorial

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