You are here: Home > Uncategorized > Halfway Down

Halfway Down

Halfway Down

Halfway down the stairs
is a stair
where i sit.
there isn’t any
other stair
quite like
i’m not at the bottom,
i’m not at the top;
so this is the stair
I always
From “Halfway Down” by A.A. Milne (1882-1956)




Monday 12th May 2014  Covers West Sussex League   k.o.:- 6.30pm

Premier Division

Lancing United                                                   P

Newtown Villa                                                    P

Match postponed – waterlogged pitch

Referee:-David Gaylor                                Attendance:-  —–


At this time of the year only the lower leagues are still going. Oh, there is the occasional Football League play-off, but, other than that, we trawl down the stairs to step seven and below for the football fix!

I had managed to get really cheap railway tickets for this fixture, but it was a three and a half hour journey. About an hour into the train ride, Graeme rang to let me know – not without a touch of schadenfreude, I felt –  that the game had been called off due to a waterlogged pitch!

I had taken the precaution of ‘tweeting’ Lancing United, but having received no reply, I had presumed that the match would go ahead. It was only when I got back to London that the reply to my ‘tweet’ suggested that the game might be in doubt!


When I got to Lancing on the 16.50 Southampton train from Brighton, this was the scene that greeted me at The Croshaw Ground in Lancing, about ten minutes walk from the railway station. I did feel that something could have been done to remove the water. A good stiff brush would have got rid of it in ten minutes and then the surface would have been no worse than many other step seven pitches at this time of year!

As I turned to wend my way back to the station, however, it began to rain. By the time I got to the station, it was teeming down and I had to agree, reluctantly, that the postponement was reasonable. Will the match ever be played? Maybe not. Lancing are bottom and a win in this, their final match, is not going to change that!

By the time I got back to Kettering station, I had managed one hundred and twenty pages of “The Sisters Who Would Be Queen” by Leanda de Lisle, a fairly heavyweight tome about Lady Jane Grey and her sisters in Tudor England.


Tuesday 13th May 2014  MDH Teamwear Northants Combination  k.o.:- 6.30pm

Premier Division

Ringstead Rangers                                                   1

Ashley Marsden 75,

Stanion                                                                     2

Brian Farrell 39, 52,

Referee:- Carl Henry                                      Attendance:- 26


Graeme gave me a lift  over to Ringstead. It was (almost) on his way there! We arrived a good hour in advance of the match on a fine and sunny evening, but with storm clouds in the air! For some reason, The Northants Combination had posted a Rothwell postcode for The ring stead Recreation Ground. So we ignored it and found the ground by its address.


There was a club house and even a tea bar and across the pitch, there was one of the tiniest covered areas I’ve seen outside of Esh Winning! You can see it below, with Graeme posing like ‘stout Cortez’ surveying the New World! On the way over, we had stopped at Thrapston Town so that Graeme could see the improvements (and there were many!) since his last visit when they were known as Thrapston Venturas. They had begun life as Venturas in 1960 and when they joined The UCL in 1978, they were still called by that name, right up until 1996 when they adopted their present name of ‘Thrapston Town’. Outside the ground, the Funfair had arrived for its annual visit!

We found the ground at Ringstead with relative ease. There was a sizeable changing rooms facility with a car park adjacent and an extra cabin where tea and coffee was available. Apart from dug-outs, the only pitch side furniture was a tiny wooden covered area (see below), which Graeme demonstrated for the camera and a roped off pitch!


The game featured Stanion as the visitors. They are one of two clubs vying for the championship. The other one is Brixworth All Saints, whom I saw in action last week. Last Saturday, Brixworth All Saints came to Ringstead and took all three points, in a 3-1 win, off a Rangers side weakened by a mass migration to a foreign stag party. This evening, the first team regulars returned to duty, but I gather there were still a few suffering from the effects of their overseas exertions!

Stanion didn’t play well. Indeed, it wasn’t a particularly good game. Shortly after half time, the visitors were two goals to the good, but Rangers made a spirited recovery, pulling a goal back with fifteen minutes remaining and coming close, near the end, to snatching an unlikely draw.

It was not to be, however, and Stanion emulated their closest rivals in garnering all three points at The Recreation Ground. On the way home, Graeme and I stopped in Thrapston at a chippy. They had seats outside of which we took advantage, but then we heard the rumble of thunder and began to wonder whether sitting on metal seats on the roadside was the best choice in the middle of an oncoming thunderstorm! We hurriedly finished up and as we moved smartly back to the car, the rains came down in increasing torrents! We dropped in for a pint at The Lord Nelson, appropriately enough, in Stanion. I hadn’t been there for twenty years or more and my memories were far more pleasant than the reality of tonight’s visit!


Wednesday 14th May 2014  Midland Regional Alliance  k.o.:- 6.30pm

Premier Division

Derby Rolls Royce                                                        3

Kieran Lynch 2,

Sean Gordon 60,

Alex Marshall 83,

Melbourne Dynamos                                                   0

Referee:- Przemyslaw Burczyski                    Attendance:- 117


Once again, the traffic on The A46 and M1 up to Nottingham was appalling. A journey that was to take me just over an hour on my return, later in the evening, took nearly two and a quarter hours on the outward leg! I collected Chris and it was a relatively short journey to The Rolls Royce Recreation Ground in Derby, Chris thoughtfully providing fish and chips before we got there!

We were not the first to arrive! Word of this vital championship clash had obviously been passed by Chinese whispers or smoke signals or whatever other means (Probably The Kempster Forum) that football hoppers glean information about esoteric games!

Furthermore, Derby Rolls Royce had issued a programme for this match, priced at £1. Sadly, when we got there, they all seemed to have been sold. Chris, however, was intrepid in tracking down a programme for each of us – and even a third one for another late arriving hopper! Francesca and Matt, Charlotte’s daughter and future son-in-law both have jobs at Derby Rolls Royce, but sadly were indisposed and couldn’t make the contest, this evening.

The Derby Rolls Royce Recreation Grounds on Moor Lane are extensive. There were at least two cricket pitches as well as the football pitch and away on the other side of Moor Lane, there is an Athletics Stadium with stands. Tonight, however, the match was played at a more prosaic level!


It was a lovely afternoon with more sunshine than clouds, but it did grow quite cool as the evening progressed. The visitors, Melbourne Dynamo, sit proudly at the top of the league with three points more and a far superior goal difference to the hosts, who sit in second place. However, this is the Dynamo’s final match of the season, whilst Rolls Royce have one further match. If they could win tonight, only a point would be needed from their final game to clinch the championship. However, a point for Melbourne this evening, would assure them of the title.


The crowds were still arriving as the game started. Some may even have missed the opening goal which came in the second minute, as the home side stamped their authority early, on a match they knew that they had to win. Melbourne were strangely lacklustre. They hardly threatened the Rolls Royce goal and there seemed to be an alarming lack of determination and intent in their play. Even so, the match was in the balance until the hour mark, when the hosts delivered a second and decisive blow to their opponents title hopes. They then finished them off with a third goal some seven minutes from time. They had won convincingly and taken a giant step towards the title.

They achieved that title in their final match of the season when they won away by 3-1 at Newhall United on Saturday 17th May.


Thursday 15th May 2014      Herts Senior County League     k.o.:- 7.15pm

Premier Division

Wormley Rovers                                                        2

Luke Robinson 37, 48,

Belstone                                                                    3

Danny Turner 5, 22, 

Lewis Putman 13,

Referee:- Andy O’Brien                                      Attendance:- 34


Wormley is a small village in Hertfordshire close to Broxbourne and Turnford and not far from the A10 Cambridge to London highway. The River Lea runs close by and forty years ago in my playing days, I was playing for Luton Teachers and the River Lea also ran through Luton. So, we thought we would call ourselves after the River Lea, because the initials also represented The LEA (Local Education Authority). What suffix could we append to that nomenclature. United? City? Villa? One wag suggested “Vitalone” and I quite liked that idea. However, we ended up with “Lea Sports”, which, I thought, was a tad boring!


Anyway, back to Wormley – some forty miles from Luton – where I arrived on Thursday evening in fine weather at the sports centre on Church Lane to find that all entries were blocked and that there was no space in the car park because of a floodlit Netball Tournament being held on the site. I had to park a quarter of a mile up the road on the bridge over the A10.

Furthermore, the match was to be played on the number two pitch, because the cricket team had laid claim to the floodlit main pitch and two floodlight pylons had been taken down to accommodate the cricketers. Then I heard that, although there was no programme this evening, Wormley had a programme editor, who assured me that he issued for all home league games and promised to send me some examples of recent matches. There was no programme for this evening’s match because the league was supposed to finish at the end of April and at that point he had stopped issuing. The next time I visit (next season, I hope) I will see a match on the main pitch and obtain a corresponding programme!


The away team were late in arriving. The match was scheduled for a 6.45pm kick-off, but at the appointed time, five Belstone players sat on the half-way line as the home team warmed up and it wash’t until after 7.00pm that the rest of the team arrived and play got under way.

Belstone are in the driving seat for the Herts Senior County Premier Division Championship, but they have to win their games in hand. They started very confidently and were three goals up within the first twenty-two minutes. I had met up with Ron from Redditch (“Villan” on The Kempster Forum) and we both agreed that it was just a matter of how many would Belstone score?

Almost as suddenly, Belstone seemed to switch off. Wormley Rovers pulled a goal back before half-time. During the interval, Lewis Putman (below), who was by far, the most creative player on the pitch and was rumoured to have been on the books of Wealdstone and Oxhey Jets this season, asked his dad, who was sat in the ‘dug-out’, area for a cigarette. I couldn’t believe my eyes. With such God-given skills, WHY was he smoking?


Lewis Putman, most skilful player on the park!

In the second half, Wormley were certainly the more determined and Belstone seemed content to contain their hosts. This was especially so after Rovers scored a second goal just three minutes into the second half.  It did not present them with too many difficulties. Although Wormley Rovers huffed and puffed, there was never any realistic chance of an equaliser and the visitors marched off with the points, albeit a little uneasily!

In the picture below, you can just see the floodlight pylon, the only one left standing on that side of the pitch on the other side of the hedge. It had been an entertaining evening. The netball tournament was still in full swing as I left. The drive home was considerably easier than the outward journey which included several lengthy stops on both the A14 and The A1 due to traffic hold-ups. Nothing new there, then!


Matches this season:-  220     New grounds:-  154

Matches this year:- 102     New grounds:-  68

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • RSS