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Team Talk 2

…………….Yes, and another thing

I know your dad’s an expert

I can hear him

But take no notice – right?

If I’d wanted to play you through the middle

I would not have picked you

At left back

So let’s get out there

Keep plugging away

They’re not eight goals better than us

Anyway ten men are sometimes harder to beat

Than a full team. Right?

Allan Ahlberg (1938 – )




Friday 1st August 2014  United Counties League     k.o.:- 7.45pm

Premier Division

Deeping Rangers                                              3

Ben Lewis 39, Ryan Oliver 78,

Daniel Flack 85, Ben Lewis s/o 44

Harborough Town                                           0

Referee:- Ian Wilson                                   Attendance:- 307 DSCN4043 This was a bit of a busman’s holiday for me. I live in Gretton, in Northamptonshire and The United Counties League has been my stamping ground for the last thirty or so years! I have been to 232 UCL matches and numerous other matches at UCL grounds in other competitions. Chris Garner and I were having a discussion about which was the best UCL ground and we both agreed that it had to be Sileby Rangers in Northampton, but my league favourite ground is Desborough Town (and I suspect that it is Chris Garner’s, too), although I do have a soft spot for Blackstones, as well! DSCN4042 Outgang Road is a ground which has developed over the years and is now quite an impressive arena. If you ever go to The Netherlands, you will note that “outgang” means “exit” (the exact same word in Italian is “uscita” which is much more redolent of a long, satisfying ‘exit’ from the bowels!). Rangers are certainly on the way out of Market Deeping and their stadium lies adjacent to an industrial estate and adjoins Deeping Cricket Club where I have officiated on several occasions, but never actually played there. DSCN4040 This particular evening was balmy and bright and Rangers were certainly quicker out of the blocks than their sluggish visitors. Indeed, were it not for the heroics of the Harborough custodian, the score might have been doubled or even trebled – and that despite the hosts being reduced to ten men just prior to the interval! DSCN4041 There was time for a pint in the bar before the game and soup at half-time and a fairly healthy attendance for the match, which comfortably beat the previous highest attendance for a fixture I had attended there (Tuesday 9th October 2012 UCL Premier: Deeping Rangers 2 Spalding United 0 attendance:- 240). DSCN4039 Our base was in Crowland – of the Abbey and the three legged bridge – but before returning, we decanted hoppers across the city of Peterborough and I was just beginning to realise how skilful was Rick our coach driver! DSCN4038

Crowland Abbey



The Crowland Abbey Hotel

Saturday 2nd August 2014   United Counties League        k.o.:- 11.00am

Premier Division

Yaxley                                                                         3

Andy Coleman 31, Dan Cotton 43 (pen), 75

Long Buckby                                                           1

Ricky Hailstone (og) 90+2

Referee:- Christopher Reeson                      Attendance:- 206 DSCN4046 Yaxley used to play in the centre of the town (where the cricket team still play – and where I remember playing, too)), but around twenty five years ago they acquired a piece of land in the fen at Leading drove and over that period they have developed a very workmanlike ground. I have dropped in maybe a dozen times over the last fifteen years or so, the last visit being at the end of last year (Friday 20th December 2013 UCL Premier:- Yaxley 2 Huntingdon Town 2 attendance:- 121). DSCN4044 I was surprised to see the attendance given as only 206. Only last August, that figure was twice exceeded in an early round of both the FA Cup and Vase (Friday 16th August 2013 FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round:- Yaxley 0 Peterborough Northern Star 3 attendance:- 292). Maybe it was the morning kick-off , or perhaps many of the hoppers took the morning off, having already visited. DSCN4045 Yaxley FC have only been in existence for about fifty years. In their early days they played in the lower reaches of the Peterborough & District League, but their breakthrough came in 1988 when they became inaugural members of The Eastern Counties League Division 1. Four years later in 1992, they were thrown out because their ground, in the middle of a local park, did not meet league regulations and it was 1995 before they moved to their new ground and The United Counties League. DSCN4047 Today, they were too good for their visitors from Long Buckby (one of five football clubs you can see from the train on the way from Northampton to Birmingham New Street). Two goals in the first half and one more after seventy-five minutes looked to have wrapped things up for the hosts, but they gifted their opponents a solitary reply in time added on.

Saturday 2nd August 2014      Peterborough & District League            k.o.:- 1.45pm

Premier Division

Riverside                                                                  3

Antonio Dello Russo 4,

Thomas Lancaster 40,

Samuel Donohoe 90 (pen),

Uppingham Town                                                 1

James Binley 64, Tom Hubbard s/o 90

Referee:- Daryl Henson                                          Attendance:- 257 DSCN4048 The second game of the day was at Riverside and the drop from The UCL to The PDFL (Peterborough & District Football League) was salutary. Most of us had been impressed with the quality of the grounds in The UCL, but Riverside played on a patch of field a couple of hundred yards away from the club house at Queens Park. Indeed, it was very fortunate that they had erected a couple of gazebo tents at pitch side  because midway through the second half a monsoon suddenly engulfed the whole area! DSCN4049 Riverside Rovers were founded as recently as 2008. They run several age groups of both boys and girls teams and they have a strict ethical code about how the game should be played. DSCN4051 They were playing Uppingham Town today and whilst the visitors arrived for the match in plain royal blue shirts, the home team turned up in shirts variously described as ‘pink’, ‘purple’ or ‘puce’! DSCN4050 The colour of the shirts made little difference to the match. Riverside scored in the fourth minute and again, five minutes before half time. Although the visitors reduced the deficit just after the hour mark, they never looked like troubling their hosts and in the final minute, their goalkeeper was sent of for DOGSO (denial of a goalscoring opportunity) and the home side wrapped up the victory from the resulting penalty.

Saturday 2nd August 2014 Peterborough & District League      k.o.:- 5.00pm

Premier Division

Netherton United                                              2

Eddie Pattern 42, Steve Mastin 71,

Thorney                                                               1

Ash Baldwin 90,

Referee:- Mark Spelling                           Attendance:- 281 DSCN4059 Not only was it still raining when we arrived at Netherton United, but the wind was also howling at typhoon levels and my umbrella was blown inside out! Fortunately, both rain and wind calmed down as the match progressed  and bright sunlight saw us off the premises. DSCN4058 Netherton United play on a purpose built ground, inside a metal cage and with a plastic pitch. Last season, they finished as runners up to Kings Lynn Reserves, but had they been champions, they would have been accepted into The UCL, plastic pitch, green metal cage and all! There is plenty of room inside the ‘cage’ and indeed, down the far side the club have installed a couple of extended bus shelters to keep the worst of the weather away from their supporters. Admission to The UCL would require some seating, but the club have arrangements in hand to bring about improvements in that area! DSCN4057  Getting from the coach to the ground, in the heavy precipitation and breathtaking gale, I had my finger torn open by my umbrella and the blood got everywhere, and even into my packet of programmes!DSCN4056  In a tight contest, Netherton just edged out their game opponents. There was a goal either side of the interval for the hosts, but the visitors halved the deficit right at the death leaving themselves no time to recover any further lost ground! DSCN4053

Saturday 2nd August 2014   United Counties League     k.o.:- 7.45pm

Division I

Peterborough Sports                                         1

Matthew Simpson 51,

Bugbrooke St Michael’s                                   1

Ryan Ansell 25,

Referee:-  Don McLarty                                Attendance:- 283 DSCN4062  This was a real piece of deja-vu. Twenty-five years ago I used to play cricket on this ground against the hosts who were then known as Peterborough Central in The Rutland League. Even the club house is the same. It was the sports ground of the old Brotherhoods Engineering Company and three years ago, it was turned into a football ground almost overnight.DSCN4064  The club have done a good job. There are no imported stand alone Meccano sets of stands, but a full covered seating area with room for perhaps one hundred and fifty spectators. The tea hut is tiny garden shed, measuring perhaps no more than six feet by four, with a window cut into the side as a serving hatch. Brown wooden fencing surrounds the ground and beyond that, there is another football pitch .

The away team was Bugbrooke St Michael’s and they had one of my former pupils playing in defence (there goes that deja-vu again). They were the better side and repaired at the interval with a single goal advantage. Whatever was added to the home sides interval cuppa certainly had the desired effect, for they came out for the second half fired with determination and had garnered an equaliser within ten minutes. That was all they got, however, and at the final whistle, the spoils were evenly distributed!


Sunday 3rd August 2014          United Counties League         k.o.:- 11.00am

Premier Division

Peterborough Northern Star                           1

Jordan McLeod 8,

Jonny Clay s/o 21,

Phil Stebbing s/o 61

Holbeach United                                               6

Lee Beeson 23 (pen),

Ashley Fuller 34,

Liam Parker 49,

Livodokuhle 72, 79,

Jake Duffy 90+3

Referee:- Mark Weatherall                         attendance:- 357

DSCN4067  Peterborough Northern Star, another relative newcomer to the ranks of local football, achieved their place in The UCL as recently as 2005. The club had been formed some ninety years ago as the football team of Eye Brickworks on the outskirts of the city, but it was the move to Chestnut Avenue which made UCL football viable (Chestnut Avenue is also the headquarters of The Peterborough FA). In 2011/12 Northern Star reached the last eight of The FA Vase.DSCN4074  This was a really feisty encounter. Northern Star deservedly scored first against a strong Holbeach side, but then suffered disaster in the twenty-first minute when their centre half brought down a Holbeach striker who was through on goal. It was a double whammy. Not only did Holbeach score the resultant penalty, but the home side were down to ten men!

By half-time, The Tigers had taken the lead and worse was to follow for Star in the sixty-first minute when they suffered a second sending off. Phil Stebbing had already been booked and was involved in an unsavoury incident with an opponent which led to a second yellow and his dismissal. He was not a happy chappy and at one stage, it looked as though he might return to the fray to put his point of view more forcibly. Wiser heads from both sides prevailed and he was persuaded to leave the field.

At that point, Star were three down and in the last half an hour they conceded three more and endured a torrid start to their season. Even so, their chairman boarded the coach at the end to thank us all for coming and apologised for the result! A nice touch, I thought.

DSCN4073   DSCN4070




At the top on the left is Dave and to his right is Simon. Below him is Chris and at the bottom is Jack, completing his team list in the bar before the match.

Sunday 3rd August 2014    Peterborough & District League          k.o.:- 2.00pm

Premier Division

Coates Athletic                                                        2

Daniel Drane 17,

Jake Pell 52,

Oakham United                                                     5

Jamie Forbes 16,

Adam Rothery 19,

Richard Nelson 45+4

Tom Caldicott 46,

Michael Nelson 82,

Referee:- James Truman                                      Attendance:- 401 DSCN4085

The final match of the hop brought us to Whittlesey and once again deja-vu intervened. I had played cricket here several times and in an instant I remembered an incident some twenty five years previously when I was late for a match at this very ground and I was stopped by a police car on The A47 when I was apparently doing 96 miles per hour!


There were other memories. My eldest son James struck a determined half century batting low down the order to grasp victory from the jaws of defeat and the clubhouse looked no different from those far gone shimmering sunny days of yesteryear. Behind the field, the railway line chugged its way from Peterborough to Cambridge and on the far side of the pitch, someone, in the intervening years, had constructed a hideous factory building.


The whisper was that Coates Athletic, having combined with Whittlesey, would be a strong side and, no doubt contending for the PDFL title. Today, the word was, Oakham United would be blown away!


How wrong that prediction was! Oakham played with dash and panache and thoroughly deserved their resounding victory.


Chris ‘Our Dear Leader’ and his lieutenant, Laurence ‘Lord of Misrule’

There is no doubt that this inaugural UCL/PDFL ‘hop’ was a resounding success. Already, we are looking forward to the next one. The success was shared almost equally between the hoppers and the clubs who took part. There was substantial evidence of the hard work put in by the clubs as they made use of the proven steps to hop success provided by Chris and Laurence. Their efforts paid handsome dividends and made the experience all the more enjoyable and entertaining for the assembled hoppers.

To reach this final and successful stage, we should not forget the groundwork and preparation undertaken by Chris and Laurence to ensure that the event reached their high production standards. As ever, despite the long wait in anticipation, the weekend flashed past in a blur of fleeting experiences, and, in my case, a handsome dollop of deja-vu!

Just a final note ……………. was the Luke Hipwell who played for Coates Athletic at home to Oakham United, the same player who was on Yaxley’s bench the previous morning?

Matches this season:- 17    New grounds :-   11

Matches this year:- 129      New grounds:- 85

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