Football at grass roots keeps going.

The chance of another live game could not be missed as the pandemic swirls around us with no short tem respite.

I made the trip to see Northampton Sileby Rangers F.C. play Bedfont and Feltham F.C. in the F.A. Vase first qualifying round. Sileby play at Fernie Fields in Northern Northampton perhaps the best kept ground I have ever visited at this level of Football. The pitch was lush, thick , flat grass that looked vivid green against the clear blue sky. The hedges on two sides of the ground are immaculately clipped and a spirit level must have been used to get them so perfect. The club house and catering facilities were spotless and even the fact that they didn’t do chips couldn’t spoilt it. The gateman and the catering staff couldn’t have been friendlier or more helpful. Only a breeze kept the temperature down as we drifed towards autumn.

I was also at Fernie Fields to go with my son and grandson to his first paying football match at 4 years old. I’m sure he most probably will remember most beating his Grandad 8-6 at half time on a small patch of grass at one end of the ground.

His Dad went to his first game at three, a Luton home defeat on Boxing Day to Watford. He only lasted the first half and we left his Grandad to watch the second half while we walked back to the car in a multi storey car park. We drove to the top floor and while we listened to the end of the game on the radio he steered the car round and round sat on my knee. I think he enjoyed that more than the game. My own experience at my first match with my father when five was documented in an earlier blog when my attempt at pyrotechnics didn’t end well.

Sileby play in the United Counties League Division One and were formed as a works team in 1968 playing in a local Sunday League. They switched to Saturday football in the late 1980’s when they changed names to Vanaid due to a sponsorship deal. The name Northampton Sileby Rangers was adopted in 2000 having joined the United Counties League in 1993. They have reached as high as the Premier League but now play in the lower division.

Bedfont and Feltham F.C. have only been in existence for 8 years since the merger of Bedfont and Feltham and have spent their time in the Combined Counties League having taken over Feltham’s place. They too have been in their Premier Division only to drop back to League Division One.

Northampton Sileby Rangers F.C.4 Bedfont and Feltham F.C. 3

Both teams looked evenly matched considering their level in the Non League pyramid system but it was Sileby who took the lead on 10 minutes when Watkinson did well to get to the line and cross back for Mann to score. Bedfont came back into the game and deserved their equaliser when Collins found space to score. 

End to end play meant Sileby scored again on 34 minutes this time from a well directed header by Mann from a corner and this was how it stayed until half time.

The second half came to life when Nathan Smith hit a shot from near 30 yards that bounced and went under the bewildered goalkeeper. With the game level Sileby were awarded a penalty for an unforced handball which the goalkeeper made a great save to his right. More excitement led to a harshly deflected shot that beat the unfortunate Bedfont keeper to put Sileby 3-2 ahead. The mayhem continued when Pearce took a long throw into the goal area which the stretching goalkeeper palmed into his own net. Now at 3-3 it was anyones game but with 7 minutes remaining Vaughan crossed for Koriya to calmly hit the back of the net. 

Sileby played out the remaining minutes with Alex Marius who had been introduced in the second half stamping some confidence in the team.

The only disappointment was the meagre crowd, I understand many people’s reluctance to go out at the moment but the social distancing was well run. Come on Northampton, support this progressive local club.

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