The Welcome Mat

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Tuesday August 13th 2013, kick off 19:45. DSC01732
South Midlands League Premier Division at Gosling Sports Park, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
Hatfield Town (Royal Blue/Royal Blue) 1-2 London Tigers (Orange/Black), att 27.
Admission six pounds, programme included, badge two pounds fifty, tea 90p.

Looking for the toilet whilst wandering through the indoor ‘trackside bar’ I was asked “Would you like a cup of tea?” Coming from white haired a guy in his 60s sitting at a large oak table overlooking the track. Having just downed my supper sitting in my car, a humble but rather dry baguette purchased from my works restaurant, this was indeed a very welcome offer.

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Turns out he is the President of Hatfield Town FC, the programme actually listed two, so I’m not 100% sure who I was conversing with, but he and his lady secretary (Rosemary) were very friendly, and we were soon joined by Michael, an official (the only one) from London Tigers FC “I used to be with Kingsbury Town, but when they folded I sort of got picked up by the Tigers (who used the Kingsbury ground initially also using the Kingsbury name, but are now based at the Old Viking Sports Ground in Greenford), and have been there ever since” Mr President commented that if it wasn’t for Michael there would be no London Tigers! Anyway, Mr President also advised me that HT ‘should’ be on a new ground in Hatfield next season, one to keep an eye on.

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Like most ground hoppers I’m no fan of football pitches in the middle of athletics tracks, but frankly the elevated view from the balcony at the trackside bar was excellent, and here I stayed for the duration enjoying chewing the fat mostly with Michael, a most enjoyable evening and game ensued.
The Gosling Sports Park is multi functional, with ‘multi’ being the operative word. The athletics track was ringed by a banked cycling velodrome, and with outdoor small sided football pitches off over to the right. Indoors I saw badminton, heard squash, and no doubt there was a swimming pool somewhere in the complex, and the trackside bar seemed to be a busy area for bridge players. A great facility for the local people, and the ‘International Honours Board’ in the bar certainly listed a host of well-known local sports names, presumably those that had used the Gosling facilities at some stage.

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BUT, the venue is out-of-town, out of the centre of Hatfield certainly, and closer to the centre of Welwyn, who already have a South Midlands League team to follow, so the return to Hatfield should help in finding a few more locals to amble along to watch. Because twenty-seven spectators for a game so early on a pleasant summers evening is a really sad state of affairs, but probably actually is more a reflection of this nations football fans, many who claim to ‘love football’, but that hollow claim probably entails no more than watching ‘their’ favourite team on match of the day every saturday night!

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Last season these two clubs struggled at the bottom of the table, 2nd and 3rd bottom I think Michael told me, so both are hoping for better in 13/14. Tigers looked the stronger in the first half with their league of nations eleven, Njodzeka (capt), Movelidze, Huender Dos-Santos, Muzzi and Anvari being some of the names on their team line up. Probably a fair reflection on their locality in London, Paddington, which is where the clubs roots lay. It was no surprise when Dos-Santos put them one up after twenty-eight minutes, as HT who’d won 4-2 at Hertford on the Saturday made a very slow start indeed.

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Kavanly rounded the keeper on fifty three minutes to put the Tigers two up, and all seemed lost for HT. But on sixty minutes Cobb scored a good header from a corner, and the recovery looked possibly on. The addition of very lively eighteen year old sub Adam Murad (he will be playing higher up soon) saw HT crank up the pressure, and they dominated the possession over the last twenty minutes or so but just could not find the equalising goal that their pressure probably deserved.

It had been an enjoyable game in great company, and I wish these two clubs all the best for the future, and I look forward to seeing a Tigers home game sometime this season, and hopefully bump into Michael again.

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