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Minor Matters!

 Dream Football

Dream Football is the harder game

The grass is devilishly long

And growing

Fish appear in the trainers bucket

Your mother has set up a small shop

On the halfway line

You are obliged to play in your underpants.

by Allan Ahlberg (1938 – )




Friday 26th Sept 2014 Chromasport & Trophies United Counties League k.o.:- 7.45pm

Division 1

Thrapston Town                                              0

Raunds Town                                                   0

Referee:- James Wetherall (with John Clark & Trev Martin)     Attendance:- 164

2014/15        Game: 61      new grounds: 42               total new grounds: 996



“Oppido Servire” – To serve the town

Well, the run just had to come to an end sometime and after sixty-two games with goals, came my first scoreless draw of the season. I should have seen it coming. These two teams are not only local rivals, but each are vying for a top spot in Division 1 of The United Counties League.


It was a lovely balmy evening, that grew a chit billy (as Spooner might opine) as the second half drew on. I bumped into John Clark outside the referees room and he ensured that I was able to crib the team news from the referees team sheets. Later I asked Jeremy when John had started refereeing. Without a second’s thought, he told me that it was in 1974 when John first ran the line in a UCL fixture and that he, Jeremy, was there at the match! He added that a former cup final referee was officiating that day!

Brian was there too, and we exchanged details of our planned adventures for the following day. He was going to Cedars Park v Trimley in the second division of The Touchline Suffolk & Ipswich League AND, he said, they would be issuing a programme! When I mentioned Cockfosters, he said that parking was difficult …………………. how right he was!

The game was a dour affair and more than a little fractious at times, but the referee controlled it well – Jeremy said that the last time he had seen this particular referee he had handed out eleven yellow cards. Tonight, he handed out just one; to the home full back, just after the hour mark.

In the background, inside the clubhouse, the cricket club were enjoying their awards evening. There was a barbecue table set up outside the club house and the biggest crowd I had ever seen at Chancery Lane, including a large away following, were denied a goal by some stout defending and a paucity of opportunity! This was my ninth visit, but only the third time I had seen an attendance in excess of 100.


Saturday 27th September 2014 Football League Alliance k.o.:- 11.00am

South East Division

Milton Keynes Dons U-18                                         3

Kabongo Tshimanga 18, 20,

Giorgio Rasulo 37,

Stevenage U-18                                                        2

Robbie Sweeney 52, 

Dale Gorman 63,

Referee:- Michael Richards (with Trev Martin and Kqis Zresewski)   Attendance:- 46

2014/15    Games:-  62   New Grounds :- 43           Total New Grounds:- 997


Graeme had picked out this little gem and, needless to say, the gods of havoc had their part to play. The junction of the M1 where sat-nav invited us to disembark the motorway was closed to all traffic travelling into Milton Keynes! We were subjected to a long detour which completely upset the fine balance of Graeme’s geographical sense of the place (he had been there before, but to a different pitch) and we found ourselves in the right location purely by chance after several wrong turnings and a lovely pub called “The Barge” which Graeme insisted on driving past for a second time!

What greeted us at The Pavilion in Woughton-on-the-Green was a large building shaped like a beautiful pagoda. At the front were the changing rooms and at the rear and upstairs were a cafe and bar with a terrific view across the vast array of playing areas below. Next to this pagoda, there was a women’s hockey match taking place  and there was evidence of work being undertaken on the cricket square following the close of the season. The match we had come to see was  being played on pitch 6, right in front of the pagoda building and within immediate range of the splendid view from upstairs in the bar!

Having arrived, we were under no illusions about the difficulty of the task of locating team information.  The fear of scouts and player poaching at this level, are such that clubs have been known to employ bouncers to keep out the undesirable! Graeme, fearing the undesirable label and smarting from uxorial censorship over a missed hair appointment, didn’t even attempt to enquire about team news, and as for me, my puny, feeble attempts were either firmly rebuffed or I was shuffled off to another part of the building only to be shuffled on yet again! After I’d given up the attempt, I brought teas down to pitch side to comfort poor Graeme, entered the players numbers (but no names of course), into my book and we settled down to watch what was really a quite enthralling contest.


The game was not very old when I was greeted by the linesman running down our side of the pitch. “Didn’t I see you at Thrapston, last night?” was his opening sally and, having quickly checked my note book, I enquired if he was THE Trevor Martin who was linesman with John Clark at Chancery Lane less than twenty-four hours previously! Indeed, he was, and, better than that, he invited me to the referees room at half-time, where I entered the names of all the players and substitutes into my book from the referee’s team sheets! Trevor Martin was off, after this match, to run the line at Olney, in another United Counties League match and on the morrow whe would be officiating at The Ricoh Arena for a Coventry City Ladies fixture! Busy people, these officials!

It was a wonder, really, how Milton Keynes Dons managed to win this match. After a very shaky start, they suddenly found themselves two up at the end of twenty minutes. A third goal arrived from the penalty spot, but Stevenage must have been bemused by the 3-0 half-time scoreline. Just before half-time, the home number 8 appeared to lash out at an opposing player. We thought he was a certainty for a red card, but he only received yellow and at half-time was quickly substituted.

In the second half, a determined Stevenage team pulled two of the goals back by the hour mark, but despite hitting post and bar in the space of a couple of seconds late on and numerous other efforts, they were unable to conjure up an equaliser!


Saturday 27th September 2014 Molten Spartan South Midlands League   k.o.:- 3.00pm

Premier Division

Cockfosters                                                        1

Denis Maharajan 31,

Harefield United                                                3

Danny Bennett 18,

Ryan Kinane 24,

Ben Gill 28,

Ben Gill s/o 48

Referee:- Bob Trinder (Dunstable)            Attendance:- 53


I never thought I would visit Cockfosters by car. I had always presumed that I would reach Dacre Field from the local tube station, also called Cockfosters, at the end of the Piccadilly Line.  We had plenty of time after the morning match and, indeed, reached Cockfosters tube station with over an hour to go to the start of the match. There, however, the trouble started. We could’t turn into Chalk Lane, because there was a no right turn sign and Graeme always obeys the rules. When we had laboriously found ourselves able to turn left into Chalk Lane, there were two fire engines blocking our way, lights flashing, but horns silent. I walked up to the second of the two vehicles and enquired as to the problem and its duration only to be met with stony faces from the entire crew and a curt answer from the driver that they were responding to an ‘incident’.


The tube station car-park, over the road, was full, however, twenty minutes later, having parked the car half a mile away and collected bags of chips en-route, we turned back into Chalk Lane on foot and the fire appliances had disappeared! We never did find out the nature of the ‘incident’!


Cockfosters FC fits very snugly into a gap between Chalk Lane and Cockfosters Road, the A111 along which stand several extensive mansions well fortified against outside interference! On either side of the ground are cricket pitches belonging to Cockfosters CC and  so tight is the fit that there is no spectator room behind one of the goals!


There is a bar and tea hutch adjacent to the entrance and limited covered seating along the near side whilst opposite are the dug-outs and a couple of small covered standing areas. It is a club well suited to step five football, but unlikely ever to progress beyond that level.


Today’s match was against a team who perennially succeed at this level without advancing beyond it, Harefield United. This season, Cockfosters, too, are enjoying early season success and a close encounter was anticipated.


By the time Ben Gill scored the third goal for the visitors in the 28th minute, the contest was over and Cockfosters were a well beaten side. Even though they pulled a goal back three minutes later and the visitors had their final scorer sent off immediately after half-time, there was to be no comeback. The home side persisted with their long ball tactics but could find no way through the determined visitor’s defence. Ben Gill, who had been sent off, initially took refuge in the players’ dugout. The referee indicated that he should leave the field of play and waited several minutes whilst he trudged round half of the pitch to the ‘tunnel’. Fifteen minutes later, he joined his girlfriend in the stand and could be heard shouting both encouragement and instructions to his team mates for the rest of the match!


A very relaxed Graeme attending to administrative matters during the match at Cockfosters 


 You can just see the sight screen of the cricket club rising above the hedge behind the goal!


There were some interesting floodlight pylons on display. Graeme wondered whether they had been painted to look like wooden telegraph poles to fit in with the trees in the background. They were certainly ‘different’ from the normal, run-of-the-mill floodlighting facilities!


Matches this season:-  63               New grounds:-  44

Matches this year:- 183                  New grounds this year:-  124

Cockfosters FC was my 998th new ground. I don’t think I will be able to get to Met Police for 999 and, as for 1,000 …………….. Any suggestions?

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