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Off The Beaten Track

They shut the road through the woods

Seventy years ago.

Weather and rain have undone it again,

And now you would never know

There was once a road through the woods

Before they planted the trees.

It is underneath the coppice and heath

And the thin anemones.

Only the keeper sees

That, where the ring-dove broods,

And the badgers roll at ease,

There was once a road through the woods.

From “The Way Through the Woods” by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)




Thursday 24th April 2014 MDH Teamwear Northants Combination k.o.:- 6.15pm
Division 1

Corby Eagles                                                           8
Dave Burton 21, 23,
Colin Hutchinson 25, 48, 59, 84,
Paul Caswell 30,
Jake Buckingham 76.
Burton United                                                      2
Jamie Hunter 9, 63
Referee:- Gareth Williams (Barton Seagrave)                    Attendance:- 37


On Thursday afternoons, I collect my grandson, Freddie, from Nursery. Frequently, we go to visit Kettering Railway Station where he loves to see the express trains flashing past. This evening, I took him for an ice cream and an orange juice and then took him home early because I had arranged to visit Swanwick PR v Linby Colliery in The Central Midlands League. I was fated never too get there. Traffic on the A14 came to a shuddering halt about three miles from the junction with the M1/M6. The time lost there gave me no choice but to return back along the A14 and take in a game in Corby.

Considering that I live in the county, this was only my second Northants Combination match. I arrived at the ground at The Kingswood Community Centre some forty minutes before kick-off  and obtained the team news from both teams before the start of the match. The referee, Gareth Williams, arrived by bicycle from his home in Barton Seagrave, some fifteen miles away, linesmen were supplied by each club, there were no programmes and the match got under way only seven minutes late.

Corby Eagles are runaway leaders of The Northants Combination Division 1. Last season, they were unbeaten champions of Division 2. This season, they have lost one match, but won twenty-two and drawn the other one. However, after initial early pressure, they found themselves a goal behind. They swatted that blemish away as one would an annoying insect. By half-time, they were leading by 4-1 and they scored a further four second half goals to record an impressive victory.

Even as champions, which, undoubtedly, they will become, there is no guarantee of automatic promotion to the Premier Division. It is unlikely that the Kingswood Community Centre facilities will be deemed good enough for Premier Division football and the club are urgently seeking an alternative venue which will allow them to compete in the top division next season.There was a pretty good crowd watching the game in the rain and dwindling light and the grim surroundings of the demolition of seventies housing taking place. I hope they find a new home and a place in the Premier Division!

DSCN3657Saturday 26th April 2014 Gloucestershire Northern Senior League  k.o.:- 12.00noon

Division I

Cheltenham Civil Service                                               1

Paul Holmes 50,

Cam Bulldogs                                                                   2

Adam Philp 18,

Aaron Booth 20,

Referee:- Paul Middlecote                                  Attendance:- 92



A noon start and chatter on the internet forum ensured that there was a healthy attendance for this match, especially as there were programmes promised and Graeme had taken the initiative and ordered three in advance. The three of us, Chris, Graeme and I, made pretty good progress down to Cheltenham arriving with a good half hour to spare and joining the heaving mass of hoppers who had made the journey especially to take this match in. Martin photographed the team sheets and we all – well, not Chris, he plays by different rules – busily jotted down the names of the two teams before kick-off.


There were two football pitches, both being played on, and a cricket pitch. The pitches had been beautifully maintained and the surface looked good enough to play bowls on! There was no entrance fee, but the excellent programme, thoughtfully pre-ordered by Graeme cost £1 and was sold out by half time. It was reputed to have been produced by a football enthusiast who works for the Civil Service.

The hosts (in orange and black) were in second place in the league, but some seven points behind their visitors, who lead the division. It was a pretty good standard of football and certainly, either team would have given one or two of the second division teams on last week’s Northern ‘Hop’ a good run for their money.

Early on, the home side had a header which struck the bar, but that was quickly followed by a brace of goals in two minutes for the opposition.  That gave the Bulldogs a grip which they never looked like  releasing. Even a goal shortly after half time to the home side, was nothing more than a consolation.



Saturday 26th April 2014 Gloucestershire County League     k.o.:- 3.00pm

Berkeley Town                                                             1

Sam Strickland 64,

Rockleaze Rangers                                                     2

Mike Reece (og) 27,

Otis Wilson 52,

Referee:- Nigel Sykes                                  Attendance:- 44


The Gloucestershire County League is a full division higher than The Gloucestershire Northern Senior League but the match that we chose for the afternoon fixture was between two sides hovering at the foot of the table. Berkeley has historic connotations. It was at Berkeley Castle where Edward II was murdered in 1327, so they say, by the unusual and highly brutal method of inserting a red hot poker up his rear passage! The story maybe no more than just that, a story. However, it may also be allegorical, referring to Edward II’s propensity for good looking young men of whom Piers Gaveston and Despenser are but two examples. Whatever the reason – and nothing about the method of his death was ever mentioned at the time – the second Edward, sandwiched between the powerful Edwards I and III, has always been regarded as weak and vacillating .

However, we weren’t visiting for a history lesson. We reached the ground on Station Road, Chris went in and bought programmes and then we all adjourned into what was little more than a large village to buy provisions. Graeme had been the most prepared of all of us. He didn’t need any provisions. He had brought his own with him. Back in Station Road before the match, we copied down the teams from the sheets provided by the helpful officials and enjoyed a lovely cup of tea. We were very impressed with the facilities for such a lowly fixture. There were several ladies involved behind the tea counter and hot food was available from half-time. It really was a very friendly club


Berkeley truly are a village team. All the eleven players who started the match, are from the village, including two sets of brothers. Sadly, these days, that is not always the best way to build a strong team. Berkeley have struggled for a couple of seasons and it would seem that their only hope of avoiding relegation, is if other clubs resign from or are promoted from the division. There is some slight indication that this might not be an entirely false hope.


The ‘stand’ which runs down the far side of the pitch has no roof on it! Apparently the roof was blown off in the recent winter storms. Above you can see Chris and Graeme (just), enjoying the match from the vantage point of the denuded stand. Plans are in place, I believe, to re-roof the stand for the coming season.


On the field it was a pretty good match. Rockleaze Rangers (the name has a faintly 1960s ‘Rolling Stones’ feel about it) took the lead midway through the first half and added a second just after the interval. With twenty-five minutes to go, The Hunters pulled a goal back, but despite some spirited attacking towards the end, they couldn’t find an equaliser. Rangers took the match and the points and left poor Berkeley struggling even deeper in the mire! Meanwhile on the radio and on Twitter, the news was breaking of Chorley’s dramatic win at Buxton which sealed the Northern Premier League title and promotion to The Conference North!


 The clubhouse at Berkeley Town FC

We stopped, briefly, at Hopwood services on the M42 on the way back, but even so, we were able to decant Graeme back at home for just after seven o’clock!

Matches this season:- 206       New grounds:- 141

Matches this year:- 88     New grounds:-  55

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