Dickie Felton

I write about music and football

Pensioners in flat caps, a dog in a body warmer and the tastiest pie of the season. Welcome to Hurst Cross, home of Ashton United. Grassroots football at it's very very best.

The entrance to the bar features the impressive club crest: shield, black star, coat of armour with motto: "Labor Omnia Vincit" which means: "work conquers all". 

Inside is the most quintessentially English non-league pub you will ever find. Notices inform of the latest chart positions in the eagerly contested Dukinfield Darts, Dominoes, and Crib leagues. 
Out-of-date fixtures in the Tuesday Ladies Darts pitch the likes of Old Ball and Trafalgar against Woodman and New Inn. 


A prominent piece of wall boasts a framed souvenir programme from Ashton's first ever floodlit game. The date, 29th September 1953, when Wigan were the visitors. What a wondrous experience that must have been for these pioneers of night-time spectating. It was also the first time Wigan had ever played under lights. 

The programme states that the floodlights were supplied by Reyo Electric Company - one of the industrial brutes of 1960s Britain producing all manner of electrical goods from ovens to street lighting.

 But wait, what's this? In this grand bastion of Britishness, the Ashton United bar suddenly goes all Stateside. There are several framed black and white photographs of Manhattan. Is Ashton-Under-Lyne twinned with New York or something? There's Grand Central Station, and that famous image of men building skyscrapers casually eating their sandwiches while perched precariously on steel beam a mile in the sky. "Work conquers all" indeed.

It's a warm reception at Ashton. Posters inside the ground proclaim "Welcome to officials, players and supporters of Marine FC". The game kicks off in the sun until the gusts sweep in. As the Ashton goals blow in a shout from the Marine bench is louder than anything the crowd of 111 can muster. "This is garbage!" the exasperated moan from Robbie Lawton.

I'm just wowed by the number off off-field firsts I'm experiencing.  At half-time I admire the Hurst Cross decking. Yes wooden decking. I've never seen decking inside a football ground ever. The bar backs onto the pitch with an impressive beer garden that has several tables but is sparsely populated with two plants.  And then there's the loo - situated in a corrugated shipping container. The temperature of the water an icy -10 judging by the yelp from my four-year-old as he washes his hands. 

The match-day programme is great. It features an interview with Ashton defender Jason Gorton. A plasterer by trade, Gorton reveals his passion for line-dancing helps with his concentration and footwork on the pitch. And it's a right merry dance Gorton and co lead the Mariners. 



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