Saturday April 13th 2013, kick off 3pm at Elmfields Gate.
Winslow United (Yellow/Blue) 1-2 Hoddesdon Town (White/Black), attendance 45.
South Midlands League Division One, admission 3 pounds, programme 1 pound, tea one pound.
Set in the Aylesbury Vale, this really is ‘middle England’. I remarked to Ros whilst driving between Bicester and her drop off at Claydon House (NT), that it was shame that the sun wasn’t out, because the countryside would have been stunning.
As it was, we left rain behind in Reading, passed Oxford we found dry roads, but with cloud hanging low in the sky.
Arriving in Winslow, it had the feel of a large village. Although its apparently a small market town with a population of 4,500.
The town was first recorded in the charter by which King Offa granted it to St Albans Abbey in 792/3 as Wineshauue, which means Wine’s Burial Mound.
In the Domesday Book of 1086 it was recorded as Weneslai.
The small but cosey clubhouse was busy before KO, and I fell into conversation with another hopper who had obtained the team lineups.
Actually it seemed many here today were keen to know, as soon as one person wrote them down they were passed on again!
The pitch looked very heavy and patchy, and as soon as game kicked off the rain came down.
I was thankful it hadn’t come earlier, as I was not convinced the pitch would have taken too much.
Winslow took the game to their high riding opponents from Hertfordshire, and if wasn’t for the Hodds keeper Jayden Purdue who made some smart saves Winslow could have been a couple of goals to the good quite early into the match.
As it was the score remained goaless as the banter from the small stand flew around. Hoddesdon had come with a few supporters. As ever the one eyedness in respect of refereeing and assistants decisions was most amusing. Of course they knew best, even though sat twenty of thirty yards further away from the play than the officials!
I stood with my new hopping friend, a Wimbledon supporter from and living in Stevenage. He’d done the trip by various buses, about 45-50 miles across country he reckoned and was doing a champagne job on Div One of this league.
Just before half time, Hoddesdon who’d been second best took the lead in freak circumsstances. A free kick from way out on the left was lofted into the box and Carroll, the visiting 10 fell slightly as the ball reached him, hit him plumb on the forehead(possibly), and flew past the keeper. If this were fantasy league, the assist would have been ‘T Pitch’, boggy and slippy as it was.
The second half was a pretty even encounter, a draw perhaps would have been a fair result, but Hoddesdon added a second in the 47th minute after a corner from the right, was initially saved, the follow up being a neat over head kick converted by Andrews, 0-2.
Winslow quickly got back into the game, after Seanla appeared to handle, if so it missed by the officials, and he tapped home, 1-2, and how it stayed on an increasingly wet and boggy pitch.
The game then became quite fractious, not helped IMO, by Hoddesdon players and officials whinging about every challenge. It descended into a massive bout of handbags on sixty six minutes after Winslow midfielder Matt Brady made a late challenge, got a red card, which then prompted much pushing and shoving, including on the touchline, where it seemed the Winslow coach or manager also got involved. He had already caught my eye with his grey mac and jaunty hat giving him the air of Bob Stokoe at the 1973 Cup Final, or even Michael Palin in his classic Ripping Yarns episode as the fan of Barnstoneworth United. His attire may have been unique but his rather childish behaviour was not unfortunately, being quite a common occurence around the grounds of our favourite sport.
Eventually the handbags were put down, and the game continued, and it was unfortunate another WU player, their scoreer Claude Seanla, saw red in the 90th for another late challenge, receiving no sympathy from his own keeper as he trooped off slowly, “Get a move on, “Hurry up and get off the pitch”
Not a classic encounter, but an enjoyable visit to the Vale, and a friendly little club, I wish them well.