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September 2020

“Soccer” by Derek Jensen

The Beautiful Game, inflamer of passion, 
Maker of legends and timeless skill; 
The sport of the world, whether rich or poor. 

From the packed dirt streets of Africa, 
To the green grass pitches in England, 
Is that matchless, extrordinary, game of games played. 

It’s a game of running, yet not always all out. 
It’s a game of passion, yet under harness and rein. 
It’s a game of team, of passing and sharing. 
It’s a game supreme, this Beautiful Game. 


Tuesday 1st September 2020
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round

Lutterworth Town 2 Staveley MW 0
Referee:- Karl Donaghey. Attendance:- 216
Admission:- £6.00. Programme:- £2.00
On a balmy evening, Lutterworth Town opened their campaign with a comfortable victory over their NCEL opponents with two first half goals and a solid, gritty performance which bodes well for the season ahead. With Graeme and Rose and ‘hospitality’ courtesy of Rose’ daughter whose boyfriend is the Lutterworth Town manager!

First programme of the new season. This season, programmes are likely to be few and far between at football matches. Many clubs are putting their programmes on line because of the Coronavirus threat.

Wednesday 2nd September 2020
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round

Mile Oak 0 Beckenham Town 4
Referee:- Martyn Milligan. Attendance:- 290
Admission:- £6.00. Programme:- £1.00
I was glad I had booked my ticket in advance as the crowds queued to gain entry and the official attendance was only ten shy of regulated capacity! One section of the crowd was scattered when they disturbed a wasps nest, but on the pitch, the visitors were very much in charge and two goals in each half saw them deservedly and comprehensively into the next round! The home side were tardy in appearing for the second half and the visitors, the referee and the large gathering were kept waiting for ten minutes before they deigned to enter the fray after the interval. With John Higgins.

I met John Higgins at the ground. He comes from Iron Bridge in Shropshire and he had come down by rail the previous day and seen an FA Cup match at Southwick on The Tuesday and stayed on the sea front in Brighton for a couple of nights.

There was a relatively large crowd for this match. The FA rules stipulated that clubs at steps 5 & 6 were only allowed a maximum of 300 spectators. Tonight’s attendance was very close to that mark!

Mile Oak Recreation Ground on Chalky Road is a very pleasant venue with floodlights and cover on two sides and hard standing on three sides (viewing only on three sides), but the ball frequently got kicked out of the ground! Next door was a pre-school nursery which also doubled up as a refreshment centre on match days!

Thursday 3rd September 2020
Pre-Season Friendly

Coventry Colliery 3 Leamington Hibernian 1
Attendance:- 37. Admission :- F.O.C.
This match was played at Hawkes Mill Social in Allesley, Coventry where the hosts are starting their third season in residence after their own ground was sold from under them for housing. The home team were easy victors. Hibernian held them to 0-0 at half-time, but were comprehensively defeated by the end!

Coventry Colliery play at The Hawkes Mill Social Centre in Hawkes Mill, Allesley, in Coventry (CV5 9FN). Hawkes Mill, who used to play here are now defunct and this is Colliery’s third season at the ground after they lost their own ground to a property developer.

Saturday 5th September 2020
Midland League Division 3

Upton Town 3 Tamworth Academy 2
Referee:- Lloyd Bell. Attendance:- 43
Admission:- F.O.C. Programme:- none
An appetising repast at The White Lion in the middle of the bustling town centre of Upton followed by a visit to The Hill Community Centre, home of Upton Town and the opening day of The Midland League season. In truth, the result was a travesty. The visitors were far superior in skill and tactics, but had the remarkable capacity for giving away soft goals. They should have won this game by a country mile, but at 2-2 and ten minutes to go, a ghastly goalkeeping error denied them even a point!

The White Lion in Upton. I hadn’t realised that Charlotte and I had visited here when we stayed in Malvern a few years ago.

In the background, the Malvern Hills are clearly visible (see also below) and make a lovely backdrop to the ground.

Quite a posh pavilion, but only drinks and snacks/chocolate bars on offer in the club house!

Sunday 6th September 2020
Rutland League Division 2 (at Huntingdon)

Huntingdon (won toss) 195 for 7 (40 overs)
Whittlesey 101 all out (29.2 overs)
by 94 runs. 

Umpires: Eamon Murphy & Eddie McGeown
The sports complex on St Peter’s Road in Huntingdon is extensive and encompassing, but the council run cricket square is not its most impressive feature! The hosts posted a useful total in this battle of the basement boys and the visitors never really got going with the bat and subsided tamely, although the last wicket did add twenty five runs and gain a batting point.

Wednesday 16th September 2020
Balcan Lighting Lincolnshire League Premier Division

Wyberton 1 Tetney Rovers 3
Referee:- Craig Forbes. Attendance:- 102
Admission:- F.O.C. Programme:- NONE
I lived hard by the ground at Wyberton Playing Fields for six years from 1978-1984, so it was a nostalgic return – and, of course, everything had changed. The pitch had rotated ninety degrees and there are now floodlights. This was a hard fast and very competitive match where the hosts were initially on top, but the visitors, newly promoted to this league, were more seasoned and once they had got into their groove, they never looked anything but victorious!

When I lived in Wyberton (at 162 Causeway – just up the road from this ground), I often brought my children down to play cricket on the pitch (the eldest would be nine years old when I left) and I even took part in a village sports day by entering the mile race – but not covering myself in glory!

Saturday 19th September 2020
Men Unite Staffordshire County Senior League 
Premier Division

Eastwood Hanley 2 Brereton Social 0
Referee:- Luke Threadgold. Attendance:- 41
Admission:- F.O.C. Programme:- NONE
On a fine but blustery afternoon in Stoke, recently resurrected Eastwood Hanley, once of The Northern Premier League, returned to their old home, now serviced by a collection of container cabins, but with some cover down one side and some terracing still in operation for a match against high flying Brereton Social who have opened their campaign with two victories. It was a lively contest, but the home side deservedly took the spoils. With Graeme Askham who supplied the chips and the chocolate!

It was difficult to visualise this stadium hosting Northern Premier League football. There must have been a lot of vandalism to reduce it to its present mode, although a new roof has been added to the stand down one side and new steel fencing now encloses the ground.

Sunday 20th September 2020
Rutland League Division 1
(At Market Deeping)

Kings Keys (won toss) 250 for 7 (40 overs)
Lost to 
Market Deeping 254 for 4 (37.4 overs)

In the race for the title, this was a match the visitors had to win, but a trip to third in the table Deeping was a stretch too far and their lusty strike (M Raheel) departed after only eight overs (during which time he notched 41 runs) and the usual three hundred plus target which they have fluently posted on three previous occasions when I have been umpiring, was never going to be achieved. Deeping started their innings badly, losing two quick wickets, but they had a star, too, and 139no from man-of-the-match Nick Green saw them to a handsome victory.

Adjacent to the ground there is The Deeping Rangers football ground and floodlit tennis courts and Bowling Green.

Monday 21st September 2020
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round

Hitchin Town 3 Needham Market 0
Referee:- Joe Woolmer. Attendance:- 410
Admission:- OMGDS £8.00 (£10).  
Programme:- NONE – teamsheet available
Always a pleasure to visit Top Field, with the bonus that Monday night, unusually, is their midweek match night. Had to book my ticket in advance and on line and there was a larger than usual turn out for this cup tie which was played at a frenetic pace and with endeavour and determination from both sides. The hosts held a slender interval advantage, but two late goals from man-of-the-match Callum Stead sealed the victory and eventually overcame dogged resistance from the visitors.

Top Field on Fishponds Road is a lovely arena and I have been visiting since 1979 (my first game was an Isthmian League encounter on 27th December 1979, between Hitchin Town and Harlow Town with The Canaries victorious by 1-0). Tonight was my 42nd visit.

Tuesday 22nd September 2020
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round 

Quorn 0 Matlock Town 2
Referee:- Zac Kennard-Kettle (Oakham)
Attendance:- 282 Admission:- OMGDS £5.00 (£7)
Programme:- £2.00
Matlock play in the top division of The Northern Premier League, whilst Quorn are two steps lower in the United Counties League. For long periods, the hosts competed very effectively against their higher level opponents, but two goals from the visitors skipper, Liam Hughes, late in the second half put an end to plucky Quorn’s FA Cup hopes for this season and Matlock proceed to the second qualifying round! With Graeme Askham and John Main.

Wednesday 23rd September 2020
Uhlsport United Counties League Division 1

Whittlesey Athletic 4 Bourne Town 0
Referee:- Simon Bell. Attendance:- 91
Admission:- OMGDS £4.00 (£5) Programme:- £1.00
On a filthy evening Whittlesey demolished a lacklustre Bourne side with James Hill-Seekings helping himself to the first three goals! The ground was a pleasant surprise. There was a newish fifty seater stand on the far side and scaffolded standing cover on the near side. Reasonable refreshments (hot-dogs, beef burgers and a range of drinks) were available. It was much better than I had been led to believe!!!

This visit re-completed The United Counties League grounds for me – although newcomers, Saffron Dynamo, I have only seen in The Leicestershire Senior League!.

Saturday 26th September 2020
Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League
Division 1

Godalming Town 1 British Airways 1
Referee:- Adam Absolon. Attendance:- 112
Admission:- OMGDS£5.00 (£8). Programme:- £2.00
A breezy, bright and mainly sunny day at The Bill Kyte Stadium, where these two teams played out a fairly tepid encounter littered with errors and even the officials joined in! It is a neat and tidy ground with cover behind both goals and seating for maybe 200 on the near side. It was a pity the match didn’t live up to expectations! With a VERY hirsute Mark Sumner!

Mark Henry Sumner

Monday 28th September 2020
Southern League Division 1 Central

Coleshill Town 0 Corby Town 1
Referee:- Tom Bowkett Attendance:- 204
Admission:- OMGDS £7.00 (£9). Programme:- £2.00
Just off the M6/M42 junction in North Warwickshire, Pack Meadow, home of Coleshill Town has a 3G pitch with the black dust rising when the ball bounces. Tonight’s encounter was hardly a classic, but the visitors probably deserved the victory from a lone goal by veteran striker Steve Diggin, an excellent volley from the edge of the penalty area. Coleshill’s cause was not helped by the sending off of Josh Willis on 61 minutes. Increasingly heavy precipitation made little difference to the outcome of the contest!

Tuesday 29th September 2020
Pitching in Southern League Premier Division Central

Banbury United 2 Hednesford Town 0
Referee:- Alan Cox (Coventry). Attendance:- 351
Admission:- OMGDS £7.00 (£10). Programme:- £2.00
A big, powerful and determined Hednesford side started this match by pinning the hosts in their own half for the first fifteen minutes, but The Puritans are made of stern stuff, too, and a wonder strike midway through the first half gave them the lead. Ten minutes from time, Hednesford’s Daniel Glover was dismissed for handling the ball away in the penalty area. The resultant penalty was saved! However six minutes from time, Banbury doubled their lead and deservedly took the victory and the points! With son, Jim.

Son, Jim, making a rare visit to The Spencer Stadium (or should I say “Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium”?)

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