Research, check, check,check

I decided a trip back into the Sheffield and Hallamshire County Senior League Premier Diovision would be my Saturday afternoon football. A trip to Swinton to see the last years runners up, to progressive Wakefield, was planned. I had really enjoyed watching football at this level last season when I spent a balmy spring evening at North Gawber Colliery FC.

I delayed my journey to the last minute because of a morning commitment and arrived at the ground with 8 minutes in hand. There was however no sign of football, you can see Swinton’s pitch from the road. Surely they would be warming up by now I thought. I checked the Leagues Website which still listed a game but on checking Swinton’s twitter feed it told me that they had no game this weekend. The ground itself looks definitely worth a visit in the future. Some of the games listed took place so I didn’t beat my self up.

So sat in the car I was reminded of a phrase that is written in the front of our address/phone number/email address book, ‘Failure isn’t fatal but hesitation can be’. In researching this league I had noticed that nearby Denaby were at home to Sheffield Union in Division 1. So with Google maps engaged I didn’t hesitate and I was off to arrive 8 minutes after the start.

Denaby’s ground is next door to Denaby & Cadeby Miners Welfare Social Club and I walked through the entrance and didn’t have to pay or donate anything. There were a crowd of about 50 watching the game and what struck me was the mix of ages and sexes, infact one of the youngest attendance I have seen for sometime. It is set on the side of a hill with a newish brick built club house which had changing facilities an area for reception after the game and a food bar and tables. The food bar had all sorts of delights with one person eating a bacon sandwich and another waiting for a burger. There are two small stands on either side and a perimeter fence around the ground with a paved walk way. Siting in one stand I could see fields and wind turbines on the distant hills. The playing surface looked a lush green but there were some patches where the dry summer has taken its toll and a few undulations were evident.

Denaby were making use of the small slope from end to end and a steady breeze from behind their goal which gave an autumn feeling. Some fluffy grey clouds were fighting off some blue skies and the clouds became darker and more fierce as the game went on.

I have failed to find out anything about Sheffield Union only that they joined the League in 2019.

Denaby is a different matter, the current club being reformed in 2011 but football goes back locally to a team called Denaby Parish Church in 1895. Becoming Denaby United within a few years they competed at the highest non-league level for some time. They notably made it to the first round of the F.A. Cup on three occasions losing to then football league opposition in Southport, Carlisle United and Oldham Athletic. Their senior Non-league days were cut short in 2001 when the Miners Welfare told them they could no longer play at their Tickhill Square home from 2002. The current club was reformed in 2011 playing in the local Doncaster leagues and in 2015 moved on to their current league status, inexplicably at the Tickhill Square ground.

Denaby Main JFC (Adult) First 3 Sheffield Union FC 0

Saturday 23rd September kick off 15.00 pm. Tickhill Square Ground

Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League Division One

Denaby, red and black vertical striped shirts, black shorts – Sheffield Union, black and white vertical striped shirts and black shorts,

The first half was an end to end affair with both sides having chances and on 22 minutes a Union forward went down, what looked to me easily, in the box but the player who stepped up to take the penalty blasted the ball onto the cross bar and over. Sheffield Union looked the more composed side playing some good team football but it was Denaby who ended the first half on top. It may have been playing against the slope and the wind that seemed to tire the away team.

The second half was a different game with the home side taking control and going ahead after 9 minutes when a Sheffield defender made a mistake that gifted the ball to Pilling who lifted the ball over the goalkeeper into the net, With no time to settle Sheffield found themselves two down a minute later when Hancock received a through ball and he ran some way to slide the ball past the goalkeeper.

Main were out of sight after 23 minutes when a shot was parried by the keeper but Pilling swept in to head the ball home. It was all over at 3 nil and with a Union player sin binned they didn’t look like coming back. However they showed some good resilience and play in the final 20 minutes to show that they will do better as the season goes on.

Denaby are now top after just two games and look strong contenders for promotion. Their diminutive number 7 impressed either on the right or left supplying some effortless crosses from either feet.

The food was great and the chips were cooked separately for me, they were hot, golden, fluffy on the inside, tasty and with no greasy after taste. the portion was also smaller than some and did not over face me. A great score of 79.

A football detox.

A trip to see relatives in Ireland and an extended holiday has meant a week or two with no football.

I could have watched Champions League or Premier League football on a huge screen in many bars but it doesn’t suffice for the real thing. I did try to fit in a League of Ireland game but none matched my travelling. It would have been great to compare the standard of play to what I watch at home.

But football (soccer) takes a back seat here to the local games of Gaelic Football and Hurling . Rugby Union also out performs football on an International playing field with their all Ireland team being highly competitive on the world stage and their regional teams are always there or there abouts on a European club basis. Perhaps football has to follow suit sometime in the future at International level. Derry have taken the plunge and for some time been playing in the League of Ireland having left the Northern Ireland Football League. I saw some of their recent quarter final win over the powerful Shamrock Rovers team in extra time in the Irish FA Cup on TV.

People do seem to want to tell you which Premiership team they support though as they often follow these teams on the TV. But it is definitely the Gaelic game that creates the passion which came home to me when in one small town, a cavalcade of cars bibbing horns and waving flags told me they had just won an important game. It also showed up in the market square of Kildare where a statue stands proud to Bill Gannon extalling his and the local teams exploits.

Extra moonshine doesn’t help Selston.

The moon shone brightly over the Parish Hall Ground in Selston, Nottinghamshire, supplementing the floodlights. We all need a bit of extra power at the moment.

I had travelled down the M1 through a thunderstorm with the speed limit reduced to 30 due to standing water to see the United Counties Premier Division North match between Selston and Belper United. Neither team have started the season strongly and Selston were still winless second from bottom of the league and Belper were finding it hard having been promoted last season.

As I approached the venue the black clouds parted and the rain stopped. The car park here was just for players and officials but nearby parking in the housing estate was available. Walking through the gate you can see the football pitch beyond the cricket square which runs down one side of the football playing area. There is another grass football field to the right and some tennis courts so it looks like a sporting hub for the town.

The playing surface looked a lush green and a chat at half time with some local helpers told me that the sprinklers had achieved that. No hosepipe ban here then

The pitch has a slope from end to end, with good floodlights and there is a mobile communication aerial in one corner. There are two small covered seating areas and one covered standing area all down the opposite side to the cricket.

To the right of the entrance is a compact, comfortable club house and changing rooms serving the cricket and football. Hot food and drinks were available but no chips so I sat down to watch an enormous TV showing Ajax outplaying Rangers.

Selston only started Saturday football in 1986 having been initially formed as a Sunday League team in 1968. They disbanded the senior team for three years in the early 21st century and now sit at their highest level of competition.

There is photographic evidence that Belper United came into existence around the early 1920’s and were active for around 20 years. A merger in 1969 between Milford Sports and Belper Park Rangers created the current club. They have played in the Midland Regional Alliance, the Central Midlands League, East Midlands Counties League and in the reorganisation of the Non-League structure now find themselves in The United Counties League. They were promoted from Division One last season via the play offs.

Selston 1 Belper United 3

Wednesday 7th September 2022 19.45 kick off.

The Parishioners v United Attendance 132

Belper played down hill in the first half and forced the pace hitting the woodwork twice early on and it was no surprise that they took the lead in the 29th minute when a long ball from the Belper keeper was not cleared by the home teams left back and the resulting cross was bundled in by Richard Hanslow after the woodwork was hit again. The away team kept up the pressure and went further ahead 5 minutes before half time when Smyth was fouled in the area and Kieran O’Connell converted the spot kick by placing it to the left of the diving goalkeeper.

Belper deserved their 2 nil half time lead but Selston came out with more ambition in the second and started exerting pressure on the away team. This pressure was rewarded on 64minutes when a cross from the right was controlled with one touch on the edge of the box by Taylor Conway who despite calls for hand ball curved the ball into the bottom corner.

Selston continued to press but their fight was blunted when Belper scored a third on 78 minutes when a ball swung in from a free kick was directed towards goal by Richard Hanslow and it took a vicious deflection looping over the head of the outstretched goalkeeper to nestle in the corner of the net.

Belper deserved to win but I thought that Selston showed enough to predict it will not be long before their first win unfortunately the moon was not a favorable omen.

Non-League Club Directory 2022/23. 45th Edition.

The latest version of the directory arrived while I was away in Scotland but a visit to my Royal Mail depot has brought it home for my delight.

Every edition takes a great deal of dedication and hard work and is a wonder that it appears each year.

I once heard an Alistair Cooke’s ‘Letter from America’ where he said that on Christmas Eve to wind down ready for the festivities he would sit in a comfy chair put on the ‘Messiah’ and sip a whisky. The arrival of the directory gives me the same relaxation feeling as I get lost in its content and quietly plan a framework for my season.

Straight away I have found a club I hadn’t considered to visit and it has been pencilled in.

Thank you as always Mike and Tony Williams and all your helpers. I hope you make it to number 46 and maybe number 50.

Sunset at Quorn

Having intended to visit Quorn previously but getting mixed up with fixtures I decided to try again. The match was Quorn FC V Heanor Town FC in the United Counties League Premier Division North an evening game with a kick off at 19.45 pm. We were able to park in a very good car park through the entrance to the club and after going through the turnstile we were met with a colourful sunset which I felt was apt in that Non-League clubs may soon have to review floodlight games in view of the increase in fuel charges. I cannot understand the fuel charge system in the UK that seems to favour only the suppliers. The cap that generates the domestic home price does not apparently apply to businesses and so some eye watering increases are being reported. Will football clubs be able to survive these and in particular afford to put on the floodlights. Was this the final sunset on floodlight matches for a while,

Quorn’s ground is impressive for this level of football, there is hard standing all around, a covered standing area at one end and a covered seating area that runs almost the full length of one side and a very well appointed club house for the public and officials on another side. The pitch is a modern synthetic surface that has a very slight fall from end to end and from side to side. There are three mobile phone masts within the ground, two of which also have floodlights attached. Although there were a few spots of rain on getting out of the car the evening turned out warm, dry and with little wind.

Like other football clubs Quorn were founded by attendees of a religious group (Wesleyan Chapel) in 1924 and started as Quorn Methodists FC changing to Quorn FC in 1952. Most of their footballing life was spent in the Leicester Senior League and after a period of ups and downs won the Premier Division title in 2001 and promotion to the Midland Alliance. In 2007 a re-organisation of leagues found them in the Northern Premier League Division One South but relegation followed 4 years later and they now play in the very competitive United Counties Premier Division North.

I have written about Heanor Town before when I visited their ground just after Christmas last year.

Quorn FC 0 Heanor Town FC 3

The Farley Way Stadium, Tuesday 30th August, kick off 7.45 pm

Quorn all red strip – Heanor white shirts, black shorts and white socks.

The Fox Hunters v The Lions

It didn’t take long for Heanor to take the lead when James Sleigh clinically took a beautiful pass and his control lead to a masterful finish and the lead and it was two nil ten minutes later when Ethan Wiesztort struck the ball into the net after some neat inter play by the visitors. It wasn’t that Quorn weren’t playing well and trying to fashion chances it was just that Heanor were quicker, more direct and robust. The fact it was only two nil at half time was down to some good goal keeping for Quorn.

Quorn seemed to be trying to create the perfect goal and Heanor showed them how to do it with a third only 8 minutes from the restart when Marley JohnsonFearon headed home from a corner.

Heanor looked to make it 4 nil when on 64 minutes they were awarded a penalty for hand ball, which seemed harsh as the defenders hands were by his side. James Sleigh strode up but the ball hit the bottom of the post and went out. A goal kick was given but it looked like the keeper, Charlie Woods, had managed to get a finger tip to the ball to guide it onto the upright.

Heanor’s win meant that they go top of the table on goal difference from Loughborough Students. This was a very different Heanor to the side that I saw playing at home eight months ago and they will take some stopping on this show.

One aspect of the game that was not good was the constant swearing and questioning of the referee and linesmen’s decisions, the scuffles that ensued after any foul and the physicality of the game. The Quorn Manager was booked by the referee later on for questioning a decision which was very harsh considering what had been happening on the pitch.

The chips were cooked for us and were piping hot, golden, good quantity, fluffy inside but left a bit of a greasy after taste getting a score of 74.

Richmond nostalgia or the future.

Travelling back from a holiday in Scotland we stopped at the beautiful market town of

Richmond in North Yorkshire. This is the constituency and nearby home of Rishi Sunak but also to Richmond Town FC.

Richmond Town’s ground featured in a book bought for me as a Christmas present, ‘British Football’s Greatest Grounds’ but alas that ground with the stunning backdrop of Richmond Castle is no longer used by the senior team in the town.

The club have moved to a purpose built facility at the back of an education complex on the edge of the town. This new all weather pitch is now home to sports for the students, a growing number of junior football sides of all ages and sexes, over 40’s, walking football and the senior men’s and women’s teams. The whole set up is impressive with high spec floodlights and built in foundations to build a small seated area should Richmond Town progress through the leagues. I was told that the move to the new ground was partly due to the local council not being in agreement with the football clubs request to develop the old ground e.g. the erection of floodlights. The club did point out that the old ground had been used in the Middle Ages as a Jousting arena and therefore had always been the sport centre of it’s day. Would lights have detracted from the view of Richmond Castle is a matter of individual opinion.

Whatever my thoughts I was at the Dave Clarke Arena to see Richmond Town play Darlington Railway Athletic FC in the Wearside League Division One

Richmond Town were formed 77 years ago although football was played at the old Earls Orchard field a few years earlier. The club has like many gone through some name changes along the way and became more main stream when they built a club house in 1976 and after some years in Darlington and Teeside Leagues they made progress to the Weardale League in 2012. They are very much a community club that does not pay its players but are striving to get the opportunity to move up the football ladder.

Darlington Railway were formed a little while before Richmond starting just after the First World War and have played in Darlinton and Teeside Leagues along with a short foray into the Northern League. Joining the Wearside League in 1990 was only temporary as they stopped playing 2 years later only to reform and progress as high as The Northern League Division One before a few demotions that find them back where they are today.

The pitch was perfectly flat, of a composite material and was lined out for different games and sizes of pitch. To start there was a perfectly blue sky, no wind and a temperature of 23 degrees but some dark clouds swirled in and although it threatened rain it stayed dry.

The paying crowd of 22 at £3 per head didn’t cover the £70 pitch hire and £130/40 for the officials.

Richmond Town 4 Darlington Railway Athletic 2

Both teams settled quickly and played some bright controlled football, no kick and rush here.

Richmond applied the most pressure and the quick Eddie Lewington took control of a through ball and ran on into the goal area to place the ball along the ground to the goalkeepers left for a one nil lead for the home team.

Richmond extended their lead on 35 minutes when a pin point cross was met by Tom Carnegie- Brown whose bullet header had the net bulging.

Richmond started the second half two nil ahead but this was pegged back after 2 minutes when Darlington’s Nathan Scott had the space to tap home. and they continued to threaten. However Richmond increased their lead when on 58 minutes Luke McCormack took the ball wide on the left only to cut it back into the net. Darlington however went straight back down the other end when their Will Hewson did the same as Luke McCormack but this time from the right hand side of the goal.

With just a few minutes left Eddie Lewington received the ball just inside the Darlington half and ran towards goal shooting from the edge of the goalkeepers area and hit the ball into the corner of the net. So Eddie finished the scoring as he had started it 80 minutes earlier.

The quality of the football was really good and I left having enjoyed the game and the facilities which appear to be the now and the future.

A thank you to the man who was doing the gate, looking after the officials etc. He welcomed me and we had a great conversation and without his input I couldn’t have written this. A great ambassador for the club.

No chips here, the club have lost the income from a food offering in moving to the new ground. But a coffee was on hand.

The Great Lochilphead Red Star Mystery

A ferry from Gourock to Dunoon and another from Portavadie to Tarbert on the Kintyre peninsular set me up for the local derby of Tarbert AFC v Lochilphead Red Star on Wednesday night 6.30 kick off. I hadn’t checked either twitter account for some hours and there it was on the S.A.F.A. website the game was postponed. I presumed that as there were no postings on the Red Star twitter account for a few days and that Tarbert had played their first League game of the season, a 5-3 loss and Lochilpgead were yet to start that it was the away team that were at fault.

The Scottish Amateur Football Association is one of, if not the oldest Football League in Scotland. I had looked forward to seeing the game, one because it was a local derby which I hoped would be competitive, two because I could judge the level of Scottish football and three to get my football fix even on holiday.

Scotland’s football pyramid is not as well developed as other European countries although promotion is now possible to the senior league system, although not directly but through a play off. Articles in ‘Nutmeg’, the quarterly Scottish football magazine have been critical of the slow progress and have set out views on how things could change for the development and growth of the game at large.

There are 4 Senior Leagues followed by 3 levels of Non League football and another 3 Junior Football regions. After this there is Amateur Football, which is whaI had tried to see and parallel with this Welfare Football that is mainly centered in the North of Scotland.

The Tarbert ground turned out to be behind the Quay through some housing and over a small narrow bridge into a park with some all-weather pitches and the Tarbert AFC pitch.

There was a slope from end to end and the grass was green and lush like an expensive carpet. Yes it was green, a major contrast to those south of the border. To the side and behind one goal are hills that give the ground its character.

So I checked the S.A.F.A. website after 2 days and the game had been given to Lochilphead along with 3 points as a walk over. Still no explanation on the Internet but I did read in the local paper that Tarbert could not get a squad for the game.

Oh well, I’ll watch out for S.A.F.A. results this seasonand perhaps make it to a match some time.

The heat wave makes it hard work

I decided that in the heat I would stay very local and visit Shirebrook Town who were at home to Selby Town in a Toolstation Northern Counties East Division One game. I had also decided that with the continuation of my chip league I would re-visit previous winners to give them a chance to regain their crown.

It was very hot registering 34 degrees in my car as I parked it under the shade of a Hawthorn tree. The sky was a bright blue but there was a hint of a breeze which might help the players as well as the agreed fluid breaks. The grass area in front of the stadium was like my previous visit laid out for whippet racing or training, poor whippets in the heat.

After going through the turnstile I could soon see that the whippet track had more green grass than the pitch which like other games this season was yellow and crisp with a little green in the goal areas, in fact better than the previous week at Shepshed.

I have written about the history of both theses teams before but would mention that this is Selby’s 103rd year although football had been played in Selby in previous years. They were the only team to have played in all 62 seasons of the Yorkshire League, being founder members, before it merged to form The Northern Counties League. Selby had started their League campaign better than Shirebrook with two wins and a defeat to Shirebrook’s 2 draws and a defeat.

Shirebrook Town 1 Selby Town 0

Shirebrook played downhill (although not a big slope) in the first half and although both teams competed hard neither gained an advantage.

This all changed on 20 minutes when a melee in the middle of the park was defused by the referee calling the drinks break and after consulting he sent a Shirebrook defender off for what looked like retaliation after being pushed in the back.

Shirebrook had till now edged the game but Selby now had the man advantage and they looked like taking the lead but for a last minute timely tackle with an open goal beckoning. The clearance found Josh Deveraux on the right who just kept running to the by line near the goal mouth and cut a shot across the goalkeeper for the ball to be nestling in the back of the net. One nil to the ten men of Shirebrook which they fiercely defended until half time.

The game had become a very tetchy affair since the sending off with the officials decisions being constantly challenged by the benches, in particular the home team. The heat, uneven bounce of the hard pitch, constant verbal’s and the dogged resistance from Shirebrook all added to the tension.

After 55 minutes an off the ball clash of heads led to a lengthy delay and the players from both sides leaving the pitch with what looked like nasty head injuries.

Selby kept pressuring but failed to make any decisive attempts on goal. Shirebrook held on even with 11 added minutes for what was a courageous and hard won game.

The chips as always at Shirebrook served by a very friendly happy team were very, very hot (cooked fresh), golden, crispy on the outside and soft inside but a light greasy aftertaste left me to give a score of 79 one less than the previous week at Shepshed.

It’s great to be back

For me the 2022/23 football season is underway with my first game at Shepshed Dynamo. Shepshed of the Northern Premier League, Midland Division played Winterton Rangers of the Northern Counties East League, Premier Division in the Extra Preliminary Round of the F.A. Cup. Shepshed are one level above Winterton in the Pyramid structure and with home advantage were favourites to win.

I often start my season at this first stage of the F.A. Cup but today I had an extra reason.

My son joined me to watch the match and we reminisced that in 1991 we had last been here to see Shepshed Albion beat Stourbridge Swifts 2.0 after watching Stourbridge beat Long Buckby 1.0 in the previous round. The significance to my son and I was that as the teams were warming up my son then nine retrieved a ball from behind the goal dribbled it back onto the pitch and then chipped the goalkeeper to see the ball nestle in the net. We have always maintained that he scored a goal at an FA Cup match!

Shepshed’s ground also has some notoriety in that it is on Butthole Lane and some Talk Sport morning presenters made a point of talking about it over too many shows.

201 people were there which I thought was disappointing for the start of the season, but it is holiday time.

The ground has no parking but we were rerouted to a nearby campus where there is ample tarmac parking. The temperature said 23° on the car but a slight breeze made it feel more comfortable than that. The bright blue sky had scattered wispy clouds that gave a little relief from the sun. The pitch slopes slightly end to end with a few undulations but the grass was yellowing in large patches and the goal mouths had no grass cover being dusty from where it was worn last season. The long hot summer has not been kind to the pitch and a long period of rain will only cut the pitch up further and provide a poor playing surface this season.

Shepshed Albion stated playing over 120 years ago in local Leicestershire Leagues but changed their name to Shepshed Charterhouse in 1975 due to financial support. This helped them to league wins that left them only two levels away from the football League in the Southern Football League, Premier Division only to be transferred to the Northern Premier League, Premier Division.

The club had a few months flirtation with Martin O’Neill as manager but their star waned and in 1992 they went back to their old name of Shepshed Albion. The following year they sought help from near neighbours Loughborough Dynamo (Just over junction 23 of the M1) and re-named and reformed as Shepshed Dynamo. some ups and downs and re-organisation of leagues now sees them playing in the Northern Premier League , Midland Division.

Winterton Rangers have had a more stable existence having started life in 1934 at Winterton in Lincolnshire just north of Scunthorpe. They played local football until 1965 when they joined the Lincolnshire League and five years later the Yorkshire league which in 1982 was re-structured to form the Northern Counties East League where they have stayed. Despite some highs and lows they are still in that League now playing in the Premier Division.

Shepshed Dynamo 0 Winterton Rangers 0

I have headed this blog it’s good to be back, and it is, but this game was not memorable. Shepshed took control of the first half from the start but were ineffectual in front of goal and other than the chat to my son there was little to commend the 45 minutes.

The second half was much the same and there were few Winterton shots on goal. The Winterton defence was resolute with the man of the match, Nathan Popple in goal, making two high class saves. One full stretched diving to his left and another at his right post when he denied Zayn Hakeem touching the ball onto his post and away from danger.

Zayn was replaced with 15 minutes left which baffled us as he was the most effective forward and we would have subbed centre forward, Dempsey Arlott-John who seemed to be suffering from a calf strain and brought Zayn inside to spearhead the attack.

So all square and a replay on Wednesday night at Winterton, yes a replay, they are back in the early rounds this year.

I had commented last season that I may not keep my Chip League going because of a higher than desired cholesterol result. A bit of weight loss, a better diet and statins have reduced this so chips are back on the menu. Whether it was the pre-season wait but the chips were superb. After waiting a while for the food kiosk staff to sort out a boiler problem they produced a £2 tray of chips that were hot, golden, fluffy in the centre, no after taste of oil and delicious. I have only scored them 80 as it is the start of the season but I think it is a score that may well not be beaten in the next 9 months.

The football season is nearly here.

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.