Reading United AC Reserves v Ocean City Nor’easters Reserves, Saturday 4th June 2022, 2pm

After our stay at Richmond Jen and I headed further north. The two hundred and eighty-five mile drive to Kempton in Pennsylvania seemed like nothing after the nine hour stint from Bryant to Richmond and the shorter trip meant that we had time to break the journey at Gettysfield.

There’s a museum there which is mainly outdoors. If you wanted to do it justice you’d have to drive around the twenty-four mile suggested route, but as we only had a couple of hours we limited our involvement to wandering around the cemetery where Lincoln made his famous address and having a look at a couple of the battlefield sites.

There was a lot of interesting info and with it following on from a visit to the Civil War Museum in Richmond I’m starting to get a better understanding of what went on in the 1860s over here.

Kempton is pretty quiet and we’d picked a remote place to stay in the countryside. Our cabin was off-grid in that it had no electricity or running water but all of that was available at the bottom of the hill.

We had a firepit though and once it got dark, a fantastic view of the stars.

I was hoping to see some wildlife and we weren’t disappointed. A deer paid a visit early morning and then returned at dusk. I regretted not buying the deer corn advertised at many of the petrol stations that we’d passed as we might have been able to tempt it closer in.

As ever, I looked to see what games were going on locally and there was one forty minutes away in Reading. The town sounded familiar and when I checked I discovered that it was the town where John Updike grew up and was thinly disguised as Harry Angstrom’s Brewer in the Rabbit novels.

Even better, Updike’s childhood house in the suburb of Shillington has been turned into a museum and we called in for a mooch around pre-match. It was well-presented and restored to the way it looked in his childhood with lots of photographs and memorabilia. Nearby was Updike’s old school and the inspiration for Rabbit’s High School basketball career. I’d have liked to have seen a game there and imagined it in the fifties.

After the house visit, we headed for the game at Alvernia University Stadium. The fixture was between the reserve sides of Reading United and Ocean City Nor’easters. Both of the regular sides play in the fourth tier USL League 2 and this game was a curtain raiser to the full fixture later in the evening.

Reading were in yellow and black with Ocean City in light and dark blue. The standard wasn’t too good but if it’s players who can’t quite make the fourth tier then that’s not unexpected.

I spent some time watching three buzzards circling the pitch. If I were a player, I doubt I’d go down easily and then play dead. There might be consequences that you wouldn’t get elsewhere.

The Alvernia University Stadium holds around five thousand with uncovered seating down one side of an artificial pitch. Once again, the pitch was marked for a variety of sports and this time the American Football posts were still in position with the soccer goals fitting beneath.

Jen and I found a table with a parasol to the edge of one of the stands. It wasn’t the best view in that I had to look through railings and had no sight of the far goal, but you can’t turn down a spot out of the sun.

My groundhopping rules were put to the test when I noticed that there were no linesmen. In the past I’ve not counted games in those circumstances. However, it was clearly a ‘proper’ match and on the basis that if something as important as the Ministerial Code can be revised or ignored when it proves inconvenient then I’m happy to change my no linesman rule to being just something to take into account when deciding the status of a game rather than an absolute deal-breaker.

The visitors went three up in the first half. Whilst I saw the crosses going in, I didn’t see any of them put into the net due to my poor view.

Nor’easters continued to dominate in the second half and added a fourth goal fifteen minutes from time after a break down the left. A fifth came soon afterwards with a calm finish from around ten yards out. With the goals coming at ‘my’ end, I was able to see them both in full.

On the drive out through Reading I tried to imagine it as Brewer. The area that we passed through had a more suburban feel than I’d imagined in Rabbit, Run, but fitted the later novels much better. I’d like to return sometime and take a longer look around.

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