Skelmersdale United 4 Marine 1
You won't find a single set of traffic lights in the whole of Skelmersdale. And there was no stopping that Skem side was there? One way traffic indeed
The warnings were apparent early on for our New Years Day trip down the M58. With torrential never-ending rain, the match seemed certain to be postponed. We got the 'game-definitely-on' message at 1:30pm giving us plenty of time to reach Skelmersdale and get totally lost.
Not a road sign anywhere guiding the way. One wrong turn down a dimly lit industrial estate nearly sees me clocking on at a ready salted crisps factory in a place called Pimbo, Which, I'm sure, is my calling in life.
To the club bar. Tremendous oil paintings of Skem's Wembley visit in 1971 hang proud. More than four decades ago United triumphed in the FA Amateur Cup, demolishing Dagenham 4-1.
There's random and wondrous footy paraphernalia. Centre stage is a glittering array of club pennants. There's Sheffield United (signed by the squad!), Norsemen Youth, Crosby Stuart FC and a pennant from the Idaho Falls Latter-Day Saints Temple (not signed). That'd make quite some Champions League group. With God on their side, my money would be on the Mormons.
More randomness outside at the West Lancashire College Stadium. I did a double-take on spotting a pool table on the terraces. Seriously - a pool table. Whatever next? A few board games dotted around the stand? I'll bring my France 98 Monopoly next season - if we're still in the same league.
Another first quickly follows. Watching Marine concede three goals in three minutes. With the scores at nil nil you could have returned your pool cues to the bar only to return seconds later to find us three down.
Marine fans speechless until I pointlessly observe that the impressive main stand "looks almost Scandinavian."
"No Dickie, the only thing Scandinavian around here is the weather," quips freezing fellow fan Jamie Bowman.
Half-time in the Skem club bar I notice the £10 cocktail pitchers: "Sex on a Beach", "Blue Lagoon" and "Purple Rain" which is quite apt in this bleak winter hail. You think they'd come up with something a bit more original. I dunno, "Skelmersdale Sling", "Concourse Libre" or, on that first half showing, "Marine On The Rocks".
Anyway. At the end of a storm is a golden sky. Did you see that Waterloo Sunset at the Arriva Stadium three days later against Frickley? The ground bathed in light as Michael J Monaghan got us back to winning ways.
We should name a cocktail after him: "The MJ" - explosive up top, 100% the real deal, the perfect tonic to away day blues...