Like last season my first game was an F.A. Cup Extra Preliminary round match and this season the same but between Northampton O N Chenecks and Godmanchester Rovers. The FA Cup has been competed for since the 1871/72 season and in the first 14 finals an old boys team featured 8 times but not since. Could Old Northamptonians Chenecks go all the way.
You would expect that the the summers day of the 11th August would not be a miserable grey day with heavy black clouds and torrential rain. The roads to the ground were far from coping with the heavy downpours but the beautiful green pitch was doing fine. The teams did not warm up but came strait out and immediately the referee called them together and we were underway.
The ON’s Association was established in 1919 in memory of the 94 members of staff, sixth former and leavers who had lost their lives in the First World War. Initially as a cricket club a football section was started in 1946 to allow former pupils of Northampton Grammar to play football. They started playing as Chenecks in local football and progressed to join the United Counties League in 1969. With the recent ground improvements they have progressed to the Premier Division and have developed a very good men’s and women’s youth team set up.
Godmanchester Rovers have been around since 1919 playing in local Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire football. But a speculative application to the Eastern Counties League in 2002 saw them step up and have since won promotion to the Premier League.
Neither team had won their opening games so an even game was anticipated.
Northampton ON Chenecks 2 Godmanchester 3
Godmanchester looked the better side in early play but it was Chenecks who went ahead on 8 minutes when a ball from the right flashed across the wet surface for Nathan Burrows to slot home.
The play evened out but Godmanchester equalised on 32 minutes with a move similar to Chenecks goal when a Chandler cross from the right was tapped in by James Hall.
The rain kept falling for all of the first half and the teams went in all square at half time although Godmanchester had a goal ruled offside. VAR would have helped here.
There was no respite at half time from the rain and a warming coffee under the umbrella kept spirits up. There were no chips here so this seasons chip league was postponed. Water had started to puddle in the goal mouth as play was restarted.
Godmanchester kept up their superiority and as the rain stopped they went ahead on 63 minutes when number 5 Ross Munro neatly struck a low free kick through the wall past the outstretched hand of the keeper to find the back of the net just inside the left hand post.
The away team were 3-1 up on 79 minutes when my man of the match Josh Dawking skilfully evaded defenders to slot the ball past the goalkeeper.
It seemed all over at this point and the crowd were distracted when the Air Ambulance landed next to the pitch and three paramedics ran off to a nearby emergency.
Despite Godmanchesters continued pressure Chenecks were able to make a late rally and saw Ben Diamond deliberately place his shot past the keepers right. A bit of extra pressure from the home side came to nothing and the referee blew to give Godmanchester a home derby against St Neots Town in the next round. The referee, Joseph Larkin booked a player from each side for tackles that perhaps would not have been made in better conditions but his actions meant that both teams settled down and in the main it was a pleasure not to notice the referee.
The 90 people wadded off as the rain came down again but must have felt it was well worth getting wet for this entertaining match. The dream of an Old Boys team at Wembley was over but a new season ahead still beckons.