The Inaugural Tandoori Cup Challenge
TNF Wigan v. Wednesday Night Pitch 7 FC
Monday, 25th February 2013, 6:30pm
The Deanery, Wigan
Wednesday Night Pitch 7 FC
In summer 2004, Jonny Fairclough spotted an advert in a Wigan paper for outdoor five-aside at Robin Park, and as it matched four important criteria (1. would help fitness; 2. could be done with friends; 3. was legal; 4. didn’t necessitate deleting internet browsing history), a team was entered into the Thursday league.
By the winter of 2005 however, it was obvious that the league was far too young and overly competitive, and playing outside was way too cold for the assorted pen-pushers and big girl’s blouses, so Lee Braithwaite took the initiative of finding an indoor pitch at the Soccerdome, and a regular slot on Wednesday nights commenced.
From the initial format of Jonny’s Team v Lee’s Team, the increased interest now means a two hour slot is booked each Wednesday with a three or four team round-robin.
Of the original outdoor league, only Jonny Fairclough and Lee Braithwaite are still regulars, with Pete Hughes and Andy Carroll (short ginger version) playing sporadically.
Long serving players from the indoor format are Paul Moore, Andrew Tague, Tim Pollitt, Ralph Twiss, Paul Greenwood, Eamonn Delaney and Paul McGuire.
Over eighty different people have played in the past eight years. Fickle or what?
Team line-up (white shirts, blue shorts)
Jonny Fairclough (Goalkeeper) – Nicknamed Fat Johnny Knoxville or Retarded Olly Murs, Jonny is not a natural goalkeeper, in fact, he’s not a natural human. (think Creighton from Red Dwarf) For a big man, he moves around the pitch like a bigger man, in callipers. Lack of mobility is not a problem however, as Jonny is one step ahead in thought. And that thought is usually at the bar.
Barry Heaton (Defender) – Nicknamed Baz or Short Baldy, Barry is impressively fluent in Turkish (or at least knows the Turkish for ‘Watch what you’re doing with those elbows you dirty carpet carrying English b@st@rd’). Playing in the heart of defence, Barry is as wide as a tree trunk and as solid as a rock, but thankfully, not so in the showers.
Paul Moore (Defender) – Nicknamed The Bull, Paul looks like Steve Bruce, but is as light-footed as Fiona Bruce (if she was wearing lead diving boots and had her ankles welded together). A good, tough tackling, steady centre half, Paul is as reliable as the seven-thirty-five to Manchester Victoria, and has a very similar stopping distance.
Ste Berry (Defender) – Nicknamed Stig, Ste has often been called the thinking man’s left back: men think he’s camp, men think his head is full of bubbles, men think he’s joking when he’s not, and men think he looks like David Walliams. For many years, Ste has worked for British Telecom. Understandably, Virgin Media are delighted.
Lee Braithwaite (Defender) – Nicknamed Lee Mack & Leighton Baines’ Love Child, Lee spends most of his day doing doodles and drawing stuff, and in his spare time manages a youth football team. He’s actually rumoured to be a very good coach, and therefore it’s such a pity his name isn’t Eavesway as he has a very similar turning circle. Lee used to be quite slow, but age creeps up on us all and sadly he’ll never get back up to that level again.
Andrew Tague (Midfield) – Nicknamed Tigger or Tiger Tame, it’s safe to say Andrew’s timekeeping on Wednesdays isn’t his best attribute, and his arrival at the Soccerdome is almost as late as Paul Moore’s arrival into a tackle. Tigger does things with a football that most of us can only dream of, like trap it, pass it accurately and not giddily blast it over the bar when faced with an open net.
Shaun Wagstaffe (Midfield) – Nicknamed Waggy, Shaun is one of the newest editions to football on Wednesdays and has brought some much needed youth to the ageing collective. Surprisingly, his nickname is nothing to do with his surname and actually comes from his boundless puppy-like energy and his ability to sit in a corner licking his own….. (offensive word removed)
Shaun Whittle (Midfield) – Nicknamed Twiny, in his youth Shaun played soccer in USA for a while whilst also working as a stunt* double for Ross Kemp (*stunt wasn’t my first choice of word, but I’ve been told to keep it clean) Shaun is Barry Heaton’s long-term business partner in their successful and highly popular ‘Right Said Fred’ tribute band.
Paul Greenwood (Striker) – Nicknamed Greeny or Terry From Emmerdale, Paul was introduced to us by Lee Braithwaite, who he met through an internet forum. (What sort of moron ends up mates with someone through an internet forum?) A big fan of the Manchester team that play in blue, he’s often known as ‘City Paul’. Or at least something that sounds like that.
Ally Weir (Striker) – Nicknamed Don’t Shoot From There Ally, Ally has a cultured right foot. It’s unfortunate therefore, that his other foot lives in a council flat and likes hardcore thrash-metal. Ally’s poor eyesight doesn’t trouble him during games, but does cause arguments and penalty claims when others trip over his Labrador.
Mark Anderson (Striker) – Nicknamed Geordie, Mark comes from Cornwall and despite having a Wigan Athletic season ticket, is also a big Sunderland fan. Aside from his fulltime job, Mark also undertakes a lot of voluntary work, assisting those less fortunate than himself, or to give the role its official title: being Ste Berry’s mate.
Danny Keane (Substitute) – Nicknamed Keano, having originally declared himself unavailable due to injury, Danny’s status has now changed to ‘Okay I’ll take my boots just in case’, so expect him to be playing within five minutes of kick-off. Danny is the only person who receives a ‘Are you sure?’ reply to his ‘sorry can’t play this week’ texts.
TNF, or Thursday Night Football, was founded way back in May 1986 by Jimmy Weston (ex Latics) who worked for Fairhurst & Co Chartered Accountants. Ten players, all from Fairhurst’s, played indoors at Wigan Tech in the winter and outdoors at Robin Park in the summer paying subs of £1 each. Jonathon Jackson and Vince Topping played in that first year and are still playing today.
Current players Ste O’Donohoe and Neil Dobinson first appeared in the late 80s and Ian Bentley and Lee Cunliffe joined in 1992 after meeting Jacko whilst playing at Chorley. A number of ex-professionals have played for TNF down the years, the most recent being ex-Everton and Latics defender, Matt Jackson.
Many 11-a-side games have been played against rival Accountancy firms, Wigan Tax Office, Cheadle Customs and Excise plus a game against a JJB side that included two of the famous Three Amigos, Jesus Seba and Isidrio Diaz. In recent times, there have been a number of home and away challenges against an amateur league side from Valencia.
Apart from a brief soujourn to Skem in 1988, TNF has played in Wigan uninterrupted since 1986 despite struggling for numbers in the late 90s when some of the existing squad joined such as Mark Croston and Jason o’Loughlin.
In 2005, TNF moved to the newly re-built Robin Park Arena complex where it remains to this day.
Team line-up (Navy blue shirts, navy blue shirts)
Andy Charleston (Goalkeeper) – Uncompromising defender, Andy finds himself in goal because a) no-one else would and b) he used to represent Thornleigh college between the sticks as a nipper. A regular TNF-er, rarely stays for a shower after receiving relentless stick about his choice of underwear from Ian Bentley.
Jason O’Loughlin (Defender) – Jason comes from famous rugby league stock and was part of the Sheffield Poly alumni that also included Ian Bentley and Wednesday Night’s Jonny Fairclough. Lives in Blackpool but still manages to turn up now and again to stand around with his hands in his pockets.
Jonathan Jackson (Defender) – Founding member of TNF, and Edwin van der Sar look-a-like. Ex-treasurer who it is rumoured funded a gap year trip round the world from the TNF coffers. A valuable member of the TNF squad, particularly as he can always lay his hands on a kit from his day job.
Warren Liptrot (Defender) – a relative newcomer to TNF, playing tonight mainly due to a late injury to Paul Clayton. Plays football, in some form or other, every day of the week. Single. Go figure!
Chris Griffin (Midfield) – Matt Lucas look-a-like who plays more like David Walliams. Current club treasurer who earns his place in the team primarily because his wife is happy to wash the bibs each week.
Steve O’Donohue (Midfield) – Donny has played for TNF for 22 years but has yet to arrive on time. Has been told that the Tandoori Cup kick-off time is 6pm to give him a fighting chance of making the start.
Vinny Topping (Midfield) – Another founding member of TNF with an educated left-foot which is just as well as his right–foot is as thick as shit.
Scott Williams (Midfield) – Most recent addition to TNF, responsible for match day operations at Wigan Athletic. Wish I had a 1-day a week job. Expected to do most of the running in midfield. (Scott, please read this)
Neil Dobinson (Midfield) – box to box midfielder in the mould of Douglas Bader. Refers to himself as “Wing-Wizard” though as wizards go, he is more Del Trotter than Harry Potter. Nick-named Norm for his uncanny resemblance to Norman Whiteside.
Ian Bentley (Striker) – Decent dribbler and finisher, though would do well to have his own ball. Will be keen to assist the referee to ensure that all jewellery is adequately taped up. Fuss-pot.
James Harrison (Striker) – young pup of the team, direct, fast and strong as an ox but greedier than a tramp on a kipper. Operates an “own-ball” sharing scheme with Ian Bentley.
Sam Dobinson (Substitute) – Son of Norm and on standby for the Tandoori Cup in case Norm’s knees don’t make it. Expect to see Sam from the 5th minute onwards.