Braintree Town v Hungerford Town, Saturday 19th February 2022, 3pm

Every couple of months or so I go to Chelmsford for the weekend for some academic chit-chat. This time my stuff was on Saturday only, but with it being an earlyish start and a few hours drive away it made sense to stay over somewhere the night before. I’d noticed that there was a Friday night game in Thetford and as that made for a good place to break the journey I made my plans to go along to that.

I’d remembered that Thetford had something to do with Dad’s Army and a quick online check revealed that it was the town where they did a fair bit of outdoor filming and where they stayed when on location. That meant that I felt compelled to stay in the hotel that they had used, despite it having a low review score. My plan was to sit in the bar and imagine Wilson and Walker sipping whisky at a table in the corner, Pike nearby nursing a half of shandy with Godfrey knocking back the snowballs.

The reality of the bar in the Bell Inn was that the music was too loud and it was full of youngsters on a big night out. I left them to it.

I dipped out on the Thetford game too as Storm Eunice caused it to be postponed, making my choice of Thetford a complete waste of time. With a full day at school the following day I didn’t expect to see a game at all over the weekend.

I finished being the dumbest person in the room by four o’clock though and with my Futbology app telling me that there was a match twenty minutes away at Braintree I thought I’d catch the last half-hour.

Whilst I could see the floodlights easily enough, the entrance to the Cressing Road stadium was harder to find and there were only twenty minutes remaining when I got inside. At that time there was nobody on the gate to take my money, but even if I’d arrived before three I wouldn’t have had to pay. Braintree had made the game free to attend, presumably to try and give a few potential new supporters the chance to see if they enjoyed the delights of the National League South.

I’ve no idea if it worked, mainly because I’m too lazy to check their attendance records but there was a decent crowd inside spread around the ground. The home fans were behind one goal and in covered stands down either side of the pitch. There were a few Hungerford fans stood on the open terrace behind the other goal. It didn’t look like there was any enforced segregation.

I did check the table though and Braintree are in a relegation battle with Hungerford ambling along in mid-table.

If I’d arrived five minutes earlier, I’d have seen Braintree open the scoring. In the action that I did see it was Hungerford on top as they pressed to draw level. Conditions, as you might expect on a weekend of storm alerts, were bleak with a sodden pitch, swirling winds and enough rain for me to move to a covered stand along the side.

Despite Hungerford sending their keeper up for an injury time corner they couldn’t force an equalizer and Braintree took the points.

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