Vauxhall need a higher gear to pass Maine Road

This was a trip down memory lane to watch Vauxhall Motors FC, but this was Ellesmere Port and not Luton.

My first ever matches were at St Albans City but my first cup run was with Vauxhall Motors FC (Luton) in the 1957/58 F.A. Amateur Cup. On a cold morning I sat in the front bench seat of a Bedford CF van on its way to the Vauxhall Sports and Social Club ground in Luton from the canteen. The van was full of tea urns and food for sale for the afternoon First round Amateur Cup match against Hounslow.

My Dad served the tea which I remember was then always premixed with milk and always tasted stewed. However the tea was great with the Wagon Wheel which at that age seemed to be the size of a dinner plate and a second cup with a Blue Riband  went down well too. Vauxhall duly won the game 3-1 and set up a second round away game at Devizes Town which was too far to go. Huddled round the radio, Amateur Cup results were after the Saturday evening sport program,   Vauxhall were triumphant 7-1.

Next up were Bromley from the Isthmian League which considered itself superior to the Spartan league in which Vauxhall played. Bromley was near relatives in South London so a trip was on and Vauxhall astoundingly won 3-1. The works team had won and it made the early evening news on TV. Vauxhall were also using the matches as publicity for the newly launched ‘F’ type Victor which were displayed on flat bed trucks at the ground entrance. This tail finned car at the time was a huge success satisfying the hunger for cheap modern styled cars, even exporting them to the USA where they were sold through Pontiac dealers. Unfortunately the poor build quality initiated a Vauxhall reputation for rust that took years to live down.

Vauxhall were now into the quarter finals but the draw was not kind with another away game this time to Isthmian League team Ilford. All I remember of the game was how dark it was and the misery of walking past the displayed cars at the end of the game after a 3 nil defeat. Ilford went on to make the final but lost to Woking. Despite this Vauhall Motors works team had gone a long way and created a warm interest in their progress. The company had gained great advertising for their cars.

Some years later I joined Vauxhall as an apprentice and stayed for 18 years and was lucky enough to play on their pitch in an inter department cup. The Sales Division had made it to the Semi Final but our two best players could not play that evening as they were on duty for Hitchin Town and Fakenham Town and I duly deputised at centre half but came up against ‘Stretch’ Godfrey a local senior non league goalkeeper playing at centre forward. My 6 ft 1 inch was out jumped on the half way line and he ran on to score the only goal of the game, gutted.

It was with disbelief when I heard that Vauxhall Motors FC (Luton) were to be disbanded after they had just won the 90/91 Isthmian League North and were about to be promoted to the Premier Division. It was said at the time that the social club wanted to promote Hockey but it was at one of those down points in Vauxhalls history and works teams were on the decline everywhere.

However in 1963 a Vauxhall Motors team had been set up in Ellesmere port where the new factory had been built and this team continues today now playing in the Hallmark Security North West Counties First Division South. They have over the years done extremely well rising from the Ellesmere Port league as high the Conference North and defeating Queens Park Rangers in a First Round FA Cup game on the way. But in 2014 the club had to resign from the Conference North due to financial troubles and regroup. They have fought back to where they are today.

Their opponents Maine Road FC started out in 1955 as ‘City Supporters FC’ and changed to their current name in the late 60’s when they moved to play at Maine Road Social Club. Maine Road have worked their way from Sunday football to their current level.

The facilities here are fantastic being part of the Vauxhall Motors Sports and Social Club which is also a community stadium. There are a few pitches, two of which are 4G, as well as a Rugby pitch and a fabulous multi purpose club house. Everton FC run a satellite football college here. https://www.vauxhallsportsclub.co.uk/

The pitch was flat but patchy in places and with no rain recently the ball kicked up dust and travelled fast over the hard ground. There was little wind and a grey overcast sky on this cold April day.  A good seated stand on one side behind the dugouts is opposite some covered terracing otherwise there is a concrete path around the ground which has few advertising boards. The program was sparse and there was no raffle, one presumes the running of the club is generated from the Sports and Social Club.

Vauxhall Motors 3 Maine Road FC 0

There was little between the teams in the first half although Vauxhall were the slightly livelier and they did get the ball in the net but they were adjudged to have fouled the goalkeeper from a corner. The teams went in at half time 0-0 and the small crowd of 64 returned to the social club.

Vauxhall upped a gear and put pressure on their opponents right from the start of the new half and it was no surprise when on 52 minutes the ball ran across the area for their centre back Thomas Mitchell to side foot them into the lead. Initially Maine Road fought back and a curling right foot free kick from 20 yards out brought a fine save from the Vauxhall keeper. But renewed Vauxhall pressure resulted in goal number two as Mike Burkey followed up a parried save by the keeper placing the ball firmly in the centre of the net. As the game ended Vauxhall added a third through an own goal deflected in after a strong run down the right by number 12. Only a few minutes later the referee blew promptly for the end of the game which sees Vauxhall move up to second in the table.

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Again there were no chips but the social club was first class.

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