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Still Travelling … But Almost There!

while I am talking to you
I am traveling.
I am going into the unknown
just to
meet up with you.

I am traveling
in order not to lurk
on the edge of existence.
I am traveling
to be closer to myself
and to you.

                       Vida Nenadic

The season is drawing to a close, the evenings last longer and the matches are running out. This is the time to visit the smaller clubs in the football community, clubs who are completing fixtures lost earlier in the season to rain, snow and mud, on bright sunny evenings! This week, despite numerous other distractions, I managed to get three such fixtures in! At this time of year, cricket and football compete for attention.

On Tuesday, I was scoring at Uppingham School, where both Oundle and Uppingham had both lost their opening four cricket matches. At the end of the day, Uppingham had their first win and Oundle their fifth defeat! There was no possibility in the evening to get to any football game as the evening shadows lengthened and the time ebbed away!

On Thursday, we went to the cinema in Stamford to see a film called “Good Vibrations”. It told the story of Terri Hooley, a record shop owner in Belfast in the seventies and eighties, who, against a backdrop of the savage violence of the ‘troubles’, loved his rock and punk rock music and promoted mixed religion bands like “Rudi & The Outcasts” and desperately wanted to let the people of Northern Ireland forget, if only momentarily, the troubled times they were living in. Well worth a view if you get the chance!

Monday 29th April 2013 Kershaws Cambridgeshire County League k.o.:- 6.15pm
Premier Division

Hardwick                        3                              Cottenham United                         0
Glen Hodgson 43
Calum Forster 45+1
Chris Watt 60
referee:- Tim Doe                                               attendance:- 42


Hardwick is perhaps five miles from Cambridge off the A428 which runs there from the A1. It is a sleepy hamlet with a thriving village hall and sports centre. This evening, I enjoyed a pint before the match, got the teams from a very co-operative referee and joined a reasonably substantial crowd for a game at this level.


Both teams were marooned in mid-table with Cottenham slightly the better placed. The level of football would certainly have graced step 6 and despite there being nothing to play for, both teams made it a competitive encounter. Hardwick were comfortable winners, however, and I left the village as the bingo caller announced the next number to a packed hall of punters!


Wednesday 1st May 2013 Athium Midland Combination k.o.:- 6.45pm
Division 1

Chelmsley Town                    0                           Fairford Villa                           2
                                                                                           Lewis Cosgrove 10
                                                                                          Nigel Adams 26
referee:- Rob Osborne                                               attendance:- 28


On Wednesday, I parked my car at Rugby Railway Station and took the 16.51 to New Street. It only arrived eleven minutes late, but then, my next train, the 17.43 to Northfield was also eleven minutes late (I think it is time to take the ‘Great’ out of Great Britain!). As a consequence, I got to Northfield Station only thirty-five minutes before kick-off! I had a map with me, purloined earlier from ‘Bing’, but the ground was some two miles from the station. With more luck than good judgement I walked into the ground just as the referee and teams were emerging for the contest!


The innovative architecture of local housing backs right up to the main stand

A programme for 50p and a contribution box for entry, gave me time to transcribe the teams from a very helpful official and then, chatting to the locals, I realised that this was only Chelmsley Town’s temporary home. It was actually the home of Northfield Town, who play in the same division as Chelmsley, but who are rock bottom and cast iron certainties for relegation! Chelmsley lost the use of their own ground in Marston Green, when the club house and changing facilities were burnt down last year. They are hoping that this ground sharing arrangement will not need to last beyond the end of this season!


The stand behind the goal… and behind that, highland music in the Social!

Their landlords might be rock bottom, but Chelmsley Town, themselves, are in the bottom five of the division. Their opponents, meanwhile, are at the opposite end of the table and never once relaxed the stranglehold they had on the game from the opening whistle. That they only scored two goals was something of a mystery. They gave the impression of the bully with his hand on the child’s head, whilst said child wildly punches the air, but can’t reach his tormentor!


After the match, I took the 21.14 back to New Street Station, and the 21.53 to Rugby where I collected my car. The entire rail journey, including car park charges, only came to £9.20………….. but then, I did have a senior rail card!


Friday 3rd May 2013 Midland Regional Alliance k.o.:- 6.30pm
Division 1

Ripley Town                           2                               Mackworth St Francis                   4
Lee Atkins                                                                      Ben Ormond, Adam Reading,
Kenny Bates                                                                   Paul Edwards, Rich Dolby
referee:-                                                                            attendance:- 19


On Friday evening, I took up an invitation from Chris to visit a match in The Midland Regional Alliance. For some reason, I seemed to recall that Ripley Town were a force in my youth, in non-league football, but I was obviously quite wrong, there! Ripley is a former mining town some fifteen miles from Nottingham and within easy reach of the M1. The Midland Regional Alliance, as Chris explained to me, is a Derbyshire league which mops up those teams who have no other league to go to! Chris seemed to feel that, perhaps, organisation was not one of the leagues strong points!


We arrived in good time and picked up chips (and fishcake for me and battered sausage for Chris) from the local take-away and parked on The Nottingham Road Playing Fields site where the nets were up and the game was due to be played. There were no programmes, no entry fee, just a football pitch and pentagonal changing rooms. The ground was rock hard and dusty and each side provided a linesman, and they gave plenty of merriment in response to some of their more outrageous decisions!


This was not the best football I had seen this season, but I readily accepted that the bone hard pitch and the swirling breeze contributed to the difficult conditions for the players. The home side were in front by half-time, but never looked confident of holding their lead. In the second half, they were hit by three goals from Mackworth who ran out worthy winners.


The sparse ‘crowd’ included at least one other ‘hopper’ and all three of us were perplexed when the referee blew his whistle nine minutes before the allotted time for the first half. Apparently, the two teams had agreed with the referee for a match of two thirty-five minute halves (but don’t tell the league!) as there was nothing at stake for either team.

It was, to say the least, an interesting evening!

On Saturday, I travelled to Repton School, where Oundle added to their cricket woes with a sixth defeat. This time, however, the losing margin was a mere four runs. Close……………. but no cigar! Meanwhile, Chris was soaking up the atmosphere of another Wembley FA Vase final, and another Northern League team victory!


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