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Isthmian Double

Lads, believe me
You know it
I know it
We are not the best team
In this league
But this lot –
Marcus, are you listening?
This lot
I have to say it –
Are worse!

From “Team Talk” by Allan Ahlberg (1938 – )




 Saturday 17th January 2015  Ryman Isthmian League  k.o.:- 12.45pm

Division 1 South

Walton & Hersham                             0

Guernsey                                             3

Tom De La Mare 28,

Marc McGrath 35 (pen),

Dave Rihoy 88,

Referee:- C. Wade                          Attendance:- 150


Considering all the rotten weather forecasts we had been receiving recently, the day dawned cold, but reasonably bright. I was on the road by 8.30am, driving down to Blisworth to meet up with Graeme and Chris. Then, the phone call came. Chris was going to be late! Nothing new there, then! I did wonder if I might have enjoyed an extra hour in bed, but it was only shortly after I arrived at The Blisworth Grand Union Canal lay bay, that the Askham wheels turned up with Chris on board. They had managed to save time by meeting at Lutterworth on The M1.

Strangely, I suddenly found myself driving! I had purchased an Independent ‘I’ newspaper, fully intending to crack all the crosswords and the sudoku on the journey down (it would be too dark on the return). Now I was half way down the M1 in the midst of a snowstorm. The prophets of doom all around me, were bemoaning the fate of our two matches, but the snow storm had no sooner reached its apogee than it fizzled out and, indeed, we passed through others on our route into south-west London.


We arrived with about two hours to spare and, having parked the car and purchased programmes, we walked into town and found a Wetherspoons for breakfast – except for the abstemious Graeme who fasted whilst Chris and I enjoyed a very reasonably priced English breakfast. We knew we were in the posh part of town when we saw houses in the window of local estate agents at up to 12 million quid! The average four bed detached was running at over a million and even a small semi could command up to half a million! It was not the place I would choose to live in my wildest dreams!


Back at The Sports Ground in Stompond Lane, where Walton & Hersham share an ageing athletics stadium with several other sports, a large smattering of hoppers had begun to congregate. Jack was there, down from Lowestoft, and Andy from Bury St Edmunds and Neil, fresh from some bird watching expedition in the outer wilds of God knows where, and Martin all the way from Taunton, to name but a few! The sun shone straight into the eyes of the seated spectators in the stand, whilst on the opposite side of the pitch a large screen painted in British Racing Green covered almost the whole length of the pitch with a very narrow footpath between it and the fence surrounding the pitch.


There was five or six steps of terracing behind the left hand goal (see below, where Chris, in the maroon, is meandering round to the far side of the pitch just before kick-off). The running track meant that the distance from the pitch was increased, but it didn’t really impair the viewing of the match. The view from the stand was excellent and if you sat on the back row of seats, the roof kept the sun out of your eyes.


There were some heavy clouds overhead, but generally, the sun held sway and Jack and I enjoyed a pint of Spitfire in the bar – where team sheets were available – just before kick-off.


Neither of these two teams have been challenging in Division 1 South of The Isthmian League this season. Indeed, Guernsey, who carried all before them in The Combined Counties League last season, are finding life in The Ryman a totally different proposition! Before the match, three points separated them with Guernsey in thirteenth and their hosts in sixteenth place, but having played two games fewer.


For the first half hour, all the pressure came from The Swans as they laid siege to the islanders goal without ever seemingly threatening a decisive strike. Then, after twenty-eight minutes, Guernsey swept into the lead on the counter-attack with a sweetly taken goal that seemed to come from nowhere!


Thereafter, the hosts laboured and Guernsey held them off with increasing confidence, slotting in a further two goals in the process. They thoroughly deserved the three points at stake!


Worryingly, Walton & hersham’s home ground is under threat. If you can read the poster below, you will see that the local council are seeking to expel them from Stompond Lane and re-locate them at the home of Walton Casuals. If you are in the area and can get to the club on 27th February at 7.00pm, please support them in their endeavour to remain at their present location!


Saturday 17th January 2015 Ryman Isthmian League k.o.:- 3.00pm

Premier Division

Metropolitan Police                                    2

Joe Turner 90+4,

Bradley Hudson-Odi 90+6

Peacehaven & Telscombe                          0

Referee:- Jonathan Cheswick             Attendance:- 105


It was less than five miles from Stompond Lane to The Imber Sports Centre where Metropolitan Police ply their trade, but the traffic was such that it took us almost half an hour to get there and we arrived only just in time for kick-off! An enterprising Jack had photographed the team sheets which were held by a young lady in the announcer’s box. Jack has lost none of his abilities in the charm area!

It was good to catch up with Phil, who had made it there before Walton & Hersham had even kicked off the second half of their game! He had endured a nightmare morning when a round of golf had been assaulted by a significant fall of snow which had left the course crusted in white – the same colour as the ball which had additionally managed to increase substantially in size! There was no choice but the abandonment of the round!


Imber Court is the home of The Metropolitan Police Sports Centre and a wide variety of sporting activity is available, including a purpose built football stadium and several other football pitches! However, very few policemen now play for The Metropolitan Police. Phil said that when he played here in the late seventies or  early eighties, most, if not all of the Police team were members of the Force, but that has changed during the intervening years!


There was a sparse crowd on a cold afternoon and even that crowd was supplemented by a substantial band of hoppers!


From the start, it was a war of attrition. The visitors lie in fourteenth place in the table, some twelve points behind their hosts and having played four games more. The Police have promotion ambitions. Indeed, a victory in this afternoon’s match would propel them into the play-off zone!


Phil, well wrapped up, enjoying the contest!

Peacehaven and Telscombe came prepared to dig in and defend in depth. To be fair, they had a formidable defence which defied everything that the home side could throw at them. They were well organised and determinedly resolute. What they lacked, was ambition! At no stage did they ever pose a threat on the Police goal and it was obvious from an early stage that they had come for a point and a 0-0 draw.


Graeme peers out from the darkening gloom!

In the end, the Telscombe collar was fingered by two strikes late into added time at the end of the game. Indeed, the second goal came after a prolonged attempt by the home side to keep the ball adjacent to the corner flag. Tempers flared as players became frustrated and the final minutes became fractious as both sets of players disturbed the peace!


The Police were worthy winners in the end and, as Graeme said, Peacehaven & Telscombe got just what they deserved – nothing!

DSCN4994After the match we played catch-up with Phil all the way along the A30, the M25 and the M1 up to Watford and then proceeded at a more sedate pace back to Blisworth, where Graeme and Chris were able to drop back into a more peaceful driving mode for their onward journey to Leicestershire and Derbyshire!

It had been a very enjoyable day!

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