While most of the nation, some in the Wells club house, were watching England beat Sweden four nil to set up a final appearance against France or Germany I went to Wells-next-to-Sea to see them play Heacham in a pre-season friendly.
Heacham have been setting these parts of the North West Norfolk football world alight in recent years with six promotions to reach the Thurlow Nunn League after winning the Anglian Combination Premier League. Heacham will now take their place for the first time in the FA Vase having attained their new status. Heacham have risen from the North West Norfolk League Division 1 in the space of 7 years, 6 promotions. They are now making numerous changes to their ground including floodlights.
Wells Town FC founded in 1903 play on Beach Road that runs down from the iconic Wells-next-to-Sea quay towards the beautiful sands. You can look down on the pitch from the walk way to the beach which is also part of the sea defences. There is a good club house and changing rooms at one end of the pitch set back from a very well maintained car park. The pitch has modern floodlights and is mainly flat but a little bumpy in places. The grass is brown and crisp and I overheard the keeper of the pitch saying it is the worst he has known for 30 years. They play their football in the Anglian Combination Division 1.
Despite these two teams doing well in this part of Norfolk two other local teams Hunstanton and Snettisham, who both could trace football teams back over 100 years, have folded in the last year. Hopefully these two town’s will see some form of football being restarted in a shot while.
The match was billed as a 7pm start so when I arrived at 6.50 to find that I was the only spectator with a few players from each side having a casual kick about I thought I must have not done my research properly
More players drifted in and by 7.35 they kicked off with a crowd that had now swelled to 30
A coffee and a KitKat in the homely club house filled the time.
With no team sheet I had to ask who was who.
Wells should have scored in the opening minutes when a player was put through but somehow failed to score. After this it was all Heacham being what you would expect from the more senior side. But around 20 minutes Wells went ahead from a break away which this time the Wells player easily beat the goalkeeper.
How Heacham did no equalise in the first half was down to poor finishing, the woodwork, dogged defence and a superb goalkeeping display.
A quick turn around, five minutes, again saw a pattern of Heacham attacks develop and roughly on the hour they levelled, when their pressure saw the ball tapped home after a melee in the Wells goal area.
I stayed for a further 15 minutes of Heacham pressure and left before the end. Something I had never previously done. I saw later that Heacham had snatched a winner.
Both teams would have been happy with the run out in a competitive local match in the right atmosphere
The competitiveness boiled over on a couple of occasions with the referee having to remind the Heacham bench of their behaviour. The referee had a good game and must have enjoyed his run out as well ready for the new season.
A really pleasant evening getting in the football mood for the season to come.