Salford City Reds - The Willows |
The Willows is another of those traditional grounds stuck in a time warp.
Even if it was freshly painted it would still look â€˜shabbyâ€™, but it has that historical atmospheric air to it. The Willows feels as if it is stalked by the ghosts of Lowry type figures of fans of RL in the early 1950s, wearing flat caps and long overcoats, Fairisle jumpers or jackets with sleeves too short. The fans still hope for new stadium in the Barton area, but the plans appear to be still only that â€“ plans.
The Reds were in Superleague1997 - 2002 then spent a season in the NFP, before returning in 2004. Karl Harrison has worked hard on the team and he is still seen around Headingley from time to time, perhaps looking for tips on coaching?
We did not miss making the journey there when they were out of Superleague, but before that, somehow, we often seemed to arrive early and then find ourselves watching the team arrive and get off the coach. Then players would wander around inspecting the ground and raising eyebrows at its facilities and giving each other puzzled looks. Over the years we have seen the pitch in all states, from rock-hard with furrows to a complete mudbath with puddles.
Having watched Graham Holdroyd as a teenager learning with Franny and Co it was a must to check on him when he went to Salford. He seemed to be at home there.
It is, of course, the birthplace of the Great Mozza too.
Their fans are vocal and loyal and usually fill a fair bit of The Shed, which takes up the eastern side of the pitch. I gather they only had 3500+ for the recent Hull match though. The main stand on the west generally has a scattering of families too.
Their devilish mascot could take on a bad pantomime role along with the Giant!
Home chant... Usually anything with loads of obscenities.
Reply chant... Anything with Rhinos in it!
Place to sit... The North stand, behind the sticks, with both seats and standing is OK and the Willows terrace on the South side with the Variety Club at the end has access to bars etc but is uncovered. Changing ends is not encouraged.
Place to park... Park and Ride available from the Ladywell area, some limited street parking and All Hallows School, Weaste Lane, has free parking on match days. It is advisable to remove any 'club colours' from your vehicle before getting to salford.
Place to eat... If you are in plenty of time, Salford Quays is the place to head for with Frankie & Bennys and a number of other 'chain' eateries. There are plenty of indian restaurants and chippes on the road down to salford from junction 16 of the M60.
Place to drink... We understand that after some trouble kicked-off when Hull FC were in town that there will not be any alcohol sold in he ground, so better grab your quick social pint before entry. There are plenty of pubs around, but you take a chance with most of them. Some may now be 'barring' away supporters.
If you get off the M60 at Junction 16 (used to be junction 15 of the M62) then there is the 'Robin Hood' at the top of the sliproad - not to bad for 'fun pub' style food and drink. Alternatively, pop into town or Salford Quays.