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(from) The Winter Freeze by Tari Mazenenga
EARLY MORNING rush, crowds buzzing like honeybees,
Ironically enough, nothing’s sweet about this icy winter freeze.
The cold blues bring back memories framed in my mind,



Monday 10th December Evo-Stik Southern League k.o.:- 7.45pm
Premier Division

Hitchin Town                          0                             Cambridge City                        3

                                                                                           Craig Hammond (pen) 39, 41
                                                                                             Mitchell Bryant 90
referee:- P. Forrester                                                        attendance:- 285
Yet another trip to Hitchin Town who really are enjoying a thin time right now! It was a cold night, but a considerably larger crowd than last Monday had braved the bracing conditions, maybe because of the surprise 2-0 home win over local rivals Bedford Town at the weekend.

Hitchin Town 0 Cambridge City 3

The Arlesey manager, Zema Abbey, was there, notebook in hand, giving nothing away, even when I questioned him directly. Arlesey play Hitchin Town at home on 1st January, having already won 1-0 at Hitchin.

Top Field, Fishponds Road, Hitchin

Quite frankly, the only surprise was how long it took Cambridge to open the scoring. They scored a penalty in the 39th minute and added a second two minutes later, completely dominated the second half, but only scored a third goal in injury time at the end of the match. Hitchin look real relegation fodder only two years after contesting the play-offs for promotion to The Blue Square Bet South!

Tuesday 11th December 2012  Uhlsports Hellenic League   k.o.:- 7.45pm

Division 1 West

Carterton                                 1                           Fairford Town                           1

Mike Durden 61                                                     Jack Williams 57

referee:- P. Robertson                                          attendance:- 20

If last night was cold, then tonight was positively arctic! It was -5 degrees outside and pretty foggy, although you could just about see both goals from the half way line!

This was a match that could all too easily have been postponed. All credit to the referee, Mr P. Robertson for ensuring that it went ahead!

I went to the game with my eldest son James, who lives in Oxfordshire, and we had apprehensions about the match being called off all the way there! We met another hopper, Lee from Shrewsbury, who had travelled the hundred odd miles down to see the game. It made my eighty-five mile journey seem paltry by comparison! James ordered beef-burger and chips and tucked in along with several pints of Guinness. We didn’t even pay for entry because there was no-one on the gate to collect the money and one of the ground-staff even handed out programmes for free. So, I have no idea where they got the official attendance from. I counted thirty-eight spectators in the stygian gloom and I’m sure one or two more hugged the bar for warmth and comfort!

Kilkenny Lane, Carterton, Oxon, home of Carterton FC and not too far away from RAF Brize Norton as the regular roar reminds you!

The game itself was a surprisingly competitive affair. The ground was rock hard but even so, some of the tackles were bone busters! Fairford Town who, perhaps had the edge, went ahead on the hour, but within five minutes, the home side were level, although we couldn’t distinguish in the foggy distance just how the goal came about… just the shouts of triumph from the home players!

Saturday 15th December 2012 FA Carlsberg Vase    k.o.:- 3.00pm

3rd Round

Shildon                                 3                                Parkgate                       1

Chris McCabe 66                                                     Martyn Lee 8

Jamie Owen 75, 80

referee:- Phillip Yates (Stockton)                         attendance:- 157

The birth place of the railways, the first thing you see upon entering the town is the bogie wheels on the roundabout bedecked with a signal at “stop”. The very first passenger railway ran from Stockton to Darlington and the actual cutting where the line ran is still extant and adjacent to this roundabout and the original locomotive  “Sans Pareil” (“Nothing Finer”) is housed in Shildon Musem. Laurence had driven up from Oxford and collected Lee, in Warwickshire and Chris and I in Derbyshire and efficiently negotiated  the long trip north.

Shildon’s Dean Street stadium is reminiscent of many Northern League grounds, being surrounded by terraced housing, but there is a fine “pagoda” stand which has been recently re-roofed and holds around 500 spectators. The ground itself has seen better times and, indeed, once incorporated a cycle track around the outside of the playing area.

Chris made comment about Durham being the county of “The Prince Bishops”, but I thought the sign (above) was more telling!

Saturday 15th December 2012: FA Carlsberg Vase 3rd Round Shildon 3 Parkgate 1. Attendance:- 157

Today’s match was a re-arranged FA Vase 3rd Round encounter with opponents from The Northern Counties East League, Premier Division. For an hour it seemed that everything that the home side could conjure up by way of goalscoring opportunities would be snuffed out by wayward finishing, excellent goalkeeping and bad luck. Parkgate had already taken a first half lead through their excellent striker, Martyn Lee and it took a rare error by their goalkeeper to gift centre-half Chris McCabe a 66th minute equaliser. The goalkeeper was mortified, which was a shame, because, as Laurence noted, he was undoubtedly the man of the match on either side. Two further goals late on sealed the away side’s fate, but they had contributed quite magnificently to a wonderful game of football.

Dean Street, Shildon, Co. Durham

FA Vase:- Shildon 3 Parkgate 1

Sadly, this journal should have been completed last evening (Sunday). However, last night I was travelling back by train from Leeds and due to arrive in Peterborough at 20.17. It all went tits up around Grantham when the train juddered to a halt and remained stationary for two hours due to a major signalling failure in the Peterborough area. Then it moved at a snail’s pace for half an hour and came to a halt less than a mile from Peterborough station. Another hour passed and it is a good thing that I have the patience of a saint, because it was 23.26 when the train eventually crawled into Peterborough station and 00.20 before I eventually got home!

Still, it was no longer FREEZING!

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