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Heading for Christmas

The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold
by Madeleine L’Engle

The winter is cold, is cold.
All’s spent in keeping warm.
Has joy been frozen, too?
I blow upon my hands
Stiff from the biting wind.
My heart beats slow, beats slow.
What has become of joy?

 Monday 3rd December 2012 Hertfordshire Senior Cup k.o.:- 7.45pm

2nd Round

 Hitchin Town                               0               Potters Bar                               3

John Frendo missed pen 66                                    Gary Wharton 64, 79

                                                                               Joel Hutchinson 65
referee:- Ron Smith                                            attendance:- 76

There wasn’t an inordinate amount of football on tonight, so I reverted to one of my favourite Monday night venues and returned to Top Field in Hitchin for a minor county cup match. Mind you, all did not go well. After last Monday’s egg bap at Barkingside (fond memories!) I thought I might try the Canaries variety. Sadly, as I sat down at the start of the match, my first incision sent spurts of egg yolk cascading everywhere, but mostly onto my coat and scarf!

After that inauspicious start, the football wasn’t up to much either! For an hour these two teams sparred desultorily until a flurry of activity occurred in a five minute spell which determined the outcome of the contest. Potters Bar, technically the lower placed team in Division 1 North of the Ryman League, nicked two goals in a minute and Hitchin, of The Southern League Premier, should have replied with a penalty a minute later, but leading scorer John Frendo hit the post rather than the back of the net! The away side finished off with a third goal fifteen minutes from time which wrapped up a well deserved victory.

Hitchin Town are not enjoying the best of seasons and are mired in the relegation zone. Perhaps that –  and the match status – explained the lowest attendance I’ve ever seen at Top Field.

Tues 4th Dec 2012 Chromasports & Trophies United Counties League k.o.:- 7.45pm

Premier Division

Desborough Town                            2                              Cogenhoe                          1

Darren Frost

referee:- D. Hanna (Oundle)                                            attendance:- 49

The following evening, I made the short journey with number two son to Desborough. Ar Tarn are enjoying a much better season than last year, but Cogenhoe are riding high and despite a cup success against the same opposition recently, I did not feel confident about their chances! By half-time, I felt even less so. They were a goal down and looking distinctly lack lustre. In the second half, John brought out his copy of the history of Ar Tarn 1896-1996 and I asked him for a copy, and for a fiver, I had Desborough secretary,  John Lee’s,  well researched volume in my grubby paws!

Desborough Town somehow fought back in the second half and won the match with a goal in the final minute. It was a good match, but I’m still not really sure how Desborough Town came out on top!

Saturday 8th December 2012    FA Carlsberg Vase 3rd Round     k.o.:- 3.00pm

AFC Wulfrunians                       2                    Borrowash Victoria                          3

after extra time. Score at 90 minutes:- 2-2

Michael Robertson                                             Shane Newton

Thomas Piggott                                                   Callum Thompson (2)

referee:- Tommy Hollidge                                attendance:- 121

This was a first! AFC Wulfrunians play at Castlecroft Park in Wolverhampton. Castlecroft Park was originally the youth training facility for Wolverhampton Wanderers, developed in the days of Stan Cullis. However, when the club fell on hard times in the eighties, they were forced to sell and in 1990 it was taken over by The English RFU as a venue for schools and youth development and matches. It is said that the vast majority of the World Cup winning side of 2003 had all played at Castlecroft Park at some stage of their career.

AFC Wulfrunians 2 Borrowash Victoria 3 aet in The FA Carlsberg Vase 3rd Round

In 2007, The RFU decided to remove all school and youth training to Twickenham and the following year, the council supported an application by AFC Wulfrunians to take out a lease on this very desirable venue right next door to Wolverhampton Rugby Club. The English Rose of The RFU still adorns the main stand!

Castlecroft Park, Castlecroft Road, Wolverhampton WV3 8NA. home of AFC Wulfrunians of The West Midlands League Premier Division.

Chris drove me down in his superbly upholstered British Racing Green Jaguar and the miles floated past in a contented blur. Sadly, there were minimal facilities at the ground for culinary challenged hoppers and, having secured a programme, we went back to  the chippy up the road…….. but we were too late! It had closed! A row of nearby shops produced a lukewarm sausage roll and a cold pork pie and with that we entered the ground where a good selection of hoppers were already ensconced!

The strange case of the linesman’s flags! I don’t think I have ever seen linesmans flags this colour or design. Nor have I seen BOTH linesman’s flags exactly the same! Must be my age!

The match was a real cracker with both sides going for broke and plenty of skill on display. The away team manager leapt up and down in front of the stand, hurling expletives at his players. He was starting the first of a four match ban from the dug out (on the far side of the pitch) for just such abusive behaviour. However, his team took the lead three times during the match and the final time, in extra time, they clung on for a deserved victory.

It was already dark when I took this photo, that is my only excuse! The RFU logo still adorns the wall of the stand at Castlecroft Park.

Sunday 9th December 2012 Evo-Stik Southern League   k.o.:- 3.00pm

Premier Division

Kettering Town                             3                         Chesham United                     1

Lewis Wilson 3                                                           Andrew Fagan 31

Michael King 25

Nathan Hicks 47

referee: Sean Feerick                                                    attendance:- 253

This was the third time that Kettering Town had staged a match at Corby Town’s Steel Park Stadium. Things have been going very badly for them. Locked out of Nene Park for unpaid electricity bills, docked ten points at the beginning of the season for being in administration, demoted from The Conference, a transfer embargo, and without a win in fifteen league matches so far this season, things couldn’t be a whole lot worse!

Steel Park, home of Corby Town, hosting Kettering Town’s Evo-Stik Southern League Premier match with Chesham United on Sunday 9th December 2012.

There had been a very  heated debate on the Corby Town website about the merits or otherwise of allowing Kettering Town to play at Steel Park. I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. It seems like only yesterday when Corby Town were forced to play at Rockingham Road whilst re-furbishment took place at The Rockingham Δ. I did take exception to the prices that they charged! Ten pounds for a senior citizen and a further three pounds for a programme was, I felt, excessive and certainly a great deal more than Corby Town themselves charged for Conference North football.

Kettering Town 3 Chesham United 1

It was bitterly cold, but the Kettering performance warmed up the afternoon. From having played fifteen, won none, drawn five and lost ten, they could add their first league victory of the campaign, which is more than can be said for Queens Park Rangers in The Barclays Premiership! Their team consisted of youth trialists and and non-contract players, but today, they shone like stars and at the final whistle, the PA announcer gave the man-of-the-match award to the entire team! It was well deserved.

At this point in the season, I have been to 97 matches and NONE of them have ended 0-0. In fact, the last 0-0 scoreline was between Coventry Sphinx and Westfields on 26th March and one hundred and thirty-nine matches have elapsed since then! I rather suspect that the next might may just have been blighted by this announcement!


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