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Seven Days in Sunny June

Garstang FC: Our look at local Tier 10 football team

Our reporter Ross Chapman attended his first '10th tier' match and was treated to a seven-goal thriller.

Garstang FC hosted Atherton Laburnum Rovers at the Riverside in the North West Counties League First Division North and came out 4-3 victors on Wednesday night.

I have been trying to get to a Garstang game for some time and I wasn’t disappointed!

Both teams play in the 10th level of the 11-tier English football professional, semi-professional and amateur system.

Atherton LR scored the opener but Garstang turned the game on its head with two goals in quick succession. The visitors equalised before the break after Garstang went down to 10 men.

However, the home side got their lead back in the second half and doubled it, before Atherton tried to make a late comeback but their consolation was the last chance of the game.

It was an end to end affair and I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to this level of football.

It was a fixture that pitted 13th against 14th and the result has lifted ‘The Stang’ up to 11th.

Although there was no bad weather forecast for the night, during the second half the rain came lashing down. For the players, it would’ve made things considerably more difficult – the pitch was already rather heavy – it was easier to slip, the ball was more difficult to control and tackles became more full-blooded. But for the fans, especially at non-league level, that’s all part of the fun.

One of the best things about football at this level is how close the supporters are to the pitch. You can hear so much more than you would at a Premier League game – the thoughts of the referee, the orders of players to their teammates and the strong-worded appeals from players when the referee makes questionable decisions.

A lot of what was said on Wednesday night isn’t printable! The referee was called into question a fair bit during the game, particularly following the red card and the goal that made it 2-2, which Garstang players believed should not have stood due to a foul on the goalkeeper Will Kitchen.

Another thing I noticed was the close relationship between players and supporters, quite possibly because the majority of the team hail from close by. Many of the club’s injured or unavailable players were out chatting to fans before, during and after the game, and all four scorers for the home team – Charlie Howarth, Joe Noblet, John-Jo Morris and Danny Squires - rushed towards the fans to celebrate.

Garstang’s most successful season has actually been fairly recent. In the 2017/18 season, they were Richardson Cup champions and were promoted to the NWCFL after winning the West Lancashire League Premier Division.

Entry fees for fans are very generous - £6 for adults, £2 for concessions and under 18s without an adult, but under 18s can watch the game for free if accompanied by an adult.

The club is very well run, with kind and generous staff, a popular clubhouse and a sports club. The Riverside is a great place to come and watch football on a Saturday - it’s compact and tidy with a friendly atmosphere.

Supporting your local teams is a great thing for the local community – judging by the support on Wednesday, Garstang already has a great group of fans, but they and many other football clubs in the local area would be very grateful for your support.

I’ll be going back to the Riverside and to other local sports teams in the near future.

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