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Are The Daffodils Really Here?

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth




Monday 22nd April 2013 Chromasport & Trophies United Counties League k.o.:- 7.45pm

Premier Division

Blackstones                        3               Huntingdon Town                       5
Victor Torres (og) 24                              Niks Savalnieks 33
Sam Strange 38                                       Declan Rogers 53 (pen), 69, 82
Addie Staffieri 88                                 Stuart Easson 75  (Jamie Graham penalty saved 90)
referee:- Kevin Seckington                              attendance:- 38


A second visit to Blackstones in four days. I think I was hoping for a miracle, but in truth, I suspected that The ‘Stones were in deep trouble. On a balmy evening a sparse following attended the last rites!

Stones started brightly and were ahead at half time. In the second half, their porous defence conceded four goals and it would have been five if the goalkeeper had not saved a last minute penalty! They have but one game left this season away at Long Buckby. AFC Kempston Rovers are one point worse off and have two games left. One of those two will be relegated along with Irchester United and, sadly, I think it will be Blackstones.

Of all the United Counties League grounds, Lincoln Road is often cited as a favourite amongst hoppers and not just for its rustic surroundings. There is a good bar, and excellent fish ‘n Chip emporium across the road and a very friendly tea hut. It is sometimes the little things that make you aware of how supporter friendly they are, like posting the day’s teams on a white board next to the tea hut, something rarely if ever seen at other UCL grounds!


Tuesday 23rd April 2013 Chromasport & Trophies United Counties League k.o.:- 7.45pm
Premier Division

S&L Corby                          0                           Shepshed Dynamo                     1
                                                                                      Liam Fitzpatrick 55
referee:- Mr I. Wilson                                                admission 51


I spent Tuesday at Oundle School scoring for the First XI at cricket. They were soundly thrashed by an MCC XI and not even the appearance of Graeme Swann at lunch time could save them from sliding to 104 all out in reply to The MCC’s 216 for 5!


S&L in white shake hands with opponents Shepshed Dynamo before the match



The view from the covered stand

It was a bit of a rush, but I made it to Occupation Road for S&L’s home fixture against Shepshed Dynamo. Early in the season, Shepshed Dynamo, newly relegated from The Northern Premier League, merely thought that they just had to turn up to collect the points on a stroll back from whence they came. They received a rude awakening and this evening, a much diminished, but still impressive band of supporters came with more realistic expectations!

They were worthy of their win which was considerably more comfortable than the 1-0 scoreline suggests!

Wednesday 24th April 2013 Uhlsports Hellenic League k.o.:- 7.45pm
Premier Division

Cheltenham Saracens              2              Wokingham & Emmbrook            1
Sonnie Barrons 7                                                   Shaun Wanklyn 41 (pen)
Joe Donoghue 53
referee:- Darren McMillen                                        attendance:- 25


Not the prettiest of grounds, alongside the main line from Birmingham to Bristol. It was bare and bleak  with a small portakabin serving tea and coffee and cans of beer. The man on the gate was charging £5 entry with no concessions. He told me at half time that he had taken £75 in gate money, so I don’t know where they got the official attendance from!



It wasn’t a bad game considering how hard the surface was. Fortunately, there was a very knowledgeable young lad who was recording all the goings on and he let us know the scorers

Thursday 25th April 2013 Chromasports & Trophies United Counties League k.o.:- 7.45pm
Premier Division

Desborough Town                 0                 Irchester United                        1
                                                                                 Callum Ridgeway 16

referee:- A. Humphries (Daventry)               attendance:- 48


Irchester United had previously won only one game all season. Desborough Town had won only one of their last fifteen games! It was good to see Chris Garner and Mark taking in a United Counties League match. Sadly, “Ar Tarn” just didn’t perform for them. For their part, Irchester United, some twenty-five points adrift at the bottom of the table, looked a pretty capable side and richly deserved their second victory of the season!

Saturday 27th April 2013          North Berks League Division 1       k.o.:- 2.30pm

Harwell International             2                  Faringdon Town                       2

Tom McGregor 72                                            Robbie Harrington 50, 76

Gareth Fenton 87

Arran Gray s/o 40                                             Charlie Bodle s/o 40

referee:- Ben Harrison                                     attendance:- 12


This game was played at an atomic research institute. My sat-nav indicated that I would need permission to enter the area, but I didn’t! I lunched extravagantly at The Packhorse on the Wantage road and dined on lamb shank, mash and seasonable vegetables along with a fine pint of ale.


At half-time, with the score at 0-0, the game appeared to be drifting into oblivion. Only ten men aside from the fortieth minute after a player from each side was sent off for “handbags”! There was almost nobody there and Paul Ferguson from Calne and I were the only disinterested spectators!



In the red and black are Faringdon Town

The second half began at pace, as Faringdon, who had shaded the first half, took the lead after 50 minutes and it seemed that they would triumph. Midway through the half came a goal apiece and still the advantage was to the away team, except that Harwell were decidedly coming more into it. The home goalkeeper complained to us that Faringdon’s second goal had received a helping hand into the net! The equaliser when it came, was an explosive shot from substitute Gareth Fenton. At the end, as we hurried away to catch the next match, we reckoned the draw was a fair result.

Saturday 27th April 2013 North Berks League Charity Shield  k.o.:- 7.00pm


Berinsfield                       1                     AFC Wallingford                         0

Mike Hinkins 84

referee:- Paul Dick                                 attendance:- 203


Abingdon Town FC of The Hellenic League

Ardington & Lockinge v Steventon was posted on the league website as a 4.30pm kick-off and we arrived just before the stated time, only to find that the game was over, having kicked off at 2.30pm! To be fair, there had been some discussion about whether the game would have kicked off at 4.30pm and as the secretary said, we should have phoned and he’d have saved us a journey!


So I travelled on to Abingdon for a Charity Shield Final at Abingdon Town’s ground. The club officials were excellent. They arranged for me, not only to have sight of the team sheets, but to be able to write them up on the whiteboard outside the tea hut.

Before the match there was a minutes silence as a mark of respect to Arthur “Nobby” Bennett, formerly a North Berks Councillor and Chair of Didcot Casuals FC. He died earlier this week and had first served on The North Berks League Committee in 1969. In 1994 he was made a life member of the league.


The match was a close fought, tense affair with the only goal arriving six minutes from time, just when we were all consigning ourselves to extra time and penalties. Berinsfield retained the trophy they had won last year, a year which also saw them promoted to the first division of the league! There was a good crowd, too, certainly in excess of 200 on a balmy but cool evening.

Berinsfield were worthy winners and, I understand that they will feature as a home fixture on the eagerly anticipated third North Berks hop later this year!

The North Berks League Secretary informed me of the attendance on Sunday evening, another sign of the supporter-friendly attitude of this league and its clubs.


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