Wednesday April 5th 2012, KO 18:00 at Woodcote Recreation Ground.
Reading Senior League – Woodcote and Stoke Row 4-1 Park United, Ht 2-0.
No programme or charge was requested for watching.
Attendance was about 15-20, probably including club officials! No bar or clubhouse facility was available to spectators.
A rare non league step7 (league 11 in the national pyramid) tick for me. With the prospect of a long drive to Yorkshire the following day for a 9 game schedule in the NCEL organised easter hop, a midweek ‘close to home’ match was most appealing.
As someone who rarely dips his toes below step6, but on the occasions when I have watched a step7 game generally I have thoroughly enjoyed them, so I quite fancied this game. Of course some step7 leagues will have enclosed grounds, small stands etc to add some character. But the Reading Senior League is not one of them, with most of the venues apparently being of the recreation ground variety, as was Woodcote Rec which was to host this fixture between the ‘probable’ title winners and bottom placed Park United.
Woodcote is a small village in the civil parish in South Oxfordshire, about 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Wallingford and about 7 miles (11 km) northwest of Reading, Berkshire.
It is in the Chiltern Hills, and the highest part of the village is 600 feet (180 m) above sea level, and it’s fair to say it’s a quintessential picture postcard english village, with the village pub situated across the road from the rec so it’s not surprising that Woodcote won the Oxfordshire Village of the Year title for 2008.
Apaprently prehistoric artefacts have been found in the area, including a polished hand-axe from about 3000 BC and a larger than life Celtic carved stone head from about 500 BC.
Leaving work a little early, I made the rec with a few minutes to spare to find the teams walking out. No time to pester anyone for the team lineups, but thanks to the excellent FA site I was able to garner these details for my report.
Taking up a position near the half way line, on the changing room side of the taped off pitch, I was immediately impressed by the tempo and skill of the players, especially with Park United being currently being bottom of the table, to my eye little difference between this and many Step6 games I’ve watched over the years.
However it didn’t take long for WSR to get on top, with striker Worsford heading a good goal after 13 minutes, before a bizarre 2nd, direct from a 35 yard free kick, a kick out on the right from Evans looped over the Park keeper Bickerton and nestled in the back of the net, is it/isn’t it the players asked? It is the ref proclaimed, 2-0 to WSR, apparently it having been a direct free kick, not too much argument, which was nice to see.
For the second period I took up a position on the other side of the pitch, where a few large trees may give some sort of shelter in inclement weather (not needed on this occasion), and houses a couple of handily placed benches should you wish to take the weight of your feet. Over there I fell into conversation with a couple of middle-aged guys. “Have you come far”, was the approach to me, my response being that no, and I was fairly local. With the follow-up being, “oh, I thought perhaps you were a hopper?” maybe my taking of photos had given this away, and I had to confess to this, and so began a good second half chinwag about hopping, local grounds etc. The two friendly guys had cycled uphill from Caversham and Tilehurst respectively, and both seemed to be fans particularly of the Reading senior league, as well as experiencing Sunday morning footy on a regular basis.
Park continued to give as good as they got, and only poor finishing from them gave the scoreline a slightly unbalanced look at SWR added two more from Worsford and Summers, and only a solitary neat goal from Park midfield player Sidhu splitting those two goals.
The game, and company had been thoroughly enjoyable on a mild evening it left me with a very good impression of this league and with a vow to return to experience another venue. A good (and cheap) night out and home in 20 minutes 🙂
Woodcote and Stoke Row team;
Gareth Evans 26
Richard Jonny Summers 75
James Worsford 13,67
Shane Gibson (Used)
Carl Smith (Used)
Ross Weatherstone (Used)
Park United team;
Ricky Sidhu 72
Kieren Chard (Used).