Stotfold v Hadley, Tuesday August 27th 2013, 7.45pm


This one turned out to be my last English football match of 2013. Or at least the last non-Boro match as I was able to squeeze in the home game against Bournemouth and an away trip to Nottingham before Jen and I left for a new job in South Africa.

I don’t write about the Boro games though so you’ll just have to imagine the joy of throwing away a two goal lead against Forest and then dropping another two points to a late equaliser in the Bournemouth match.

I did get to stand all game though.

I did get to stand all game though.

The visit to Stotfold was brought about by the need to drop off visa applications at the South African Consulate. As you might know, it’s actually in London, but I thought that staying outside of the city and just getting the train in for the day might be more enjoyable.

We booked into somewhere in a village called Great Offley. It was quite posh by our standards but it had a footpath passing through the grounds of the hotel that allowed us to go for a hike. We’ve spent a lot of time walking this summer and probably the thing that sticks in my mind the most is the number of game birds that we’ve disturbed. There didn’t seem to be a hedgerow in England or Scotland that wasn’t full of grouse, partridge or pheasant. Or at least there wasn’t until we walked past and scattered them each time.

These two tried running away.

These two tried running away.

Stotfold isn‘t too far from Great Offley and when I spotted that their football team was at home to Hadley in a Level Nine Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division clash, I had a drive down to their Roker Park ground. Yes, Roker Park. You thought it had long gone didn’t you?

Despite its famous name Roker Park wasn’t the easiest place to find, even with a sat nav in the car and that blue dot thing on my phone. Eventually I spotted a sign on a gatepost and parked up nearby.

It's hidden down that lane.

It’s hidden down that lane.

It was six quid to get in, the same as the pre-season friendly that I’d seen recently in Sudbury. That must be the going rate these days. The woman on the gate sold me a programme for a quid as well, just in case I needed the contact information for a variety of local tradesmen.

She wasn't too happy to be photographed.

She wasn’t too happy to be photographed.

There weren’t too many people there, maybe a hundred or so. That seems fairly constant at this level too. Most of them were dotted around the Bill Clegg Stand. As you might have guessed I’ve no idea who Bill is. He does sound a bit northern though so I’m sure he’s a decent bloke.

The Foggy and Compo stands will be next.

The Foggy and Compo stands will be next.

The highlight of the evening was being served a cup of tea in a ceramic mug at half-time. I don’t normally drink tea, but on this occasion it felt like the right thing to do. Drinking it out of a proper cup that you were obliged to return when you’d finished made it all a lot friendlier. I don’t know why, but it just did. Homely even. Perhaps it’s the trust. There should be more of that sort of thing, although if I were doing the washing up I might think differently.

The tea hut.

The tea hut.

As for the game and the score, I can’t remember. I think it might have been one-nil, but I’ve no idea who to. Maybe I should write these things a bit sooner after the event.

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