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Friday 1st August 2014 ko 19.45

United Counties League Premier Division

DEEPING RANGERS 3 (Lewis 38 Oliver 78 Flack 85) Lewis sent off 43 (dangerous play)

HARBOROUGH TOWN 0

Att 307

Entry £6

Programme £1

Badge £3

So back on GroundhopUK duty and the fruition of something that started with a tweet from league official Daniel Leggett to Notts hop organiser Rob Hornby. That found me visiting Peterborough Sports to meet Daniel, only to find most of the committee there wanting a chat, and things moved fairly quickly from there. The next move was a first for us, involving a new league, the Peterborough & District League, a feeder to the UCL. We’d visited other league’s clubs where geographically convenient, Penybont and Radnor Valley for example on the Mid-Wales hops but a dual hop would be something new for us to plan.

It threw another planning headache in too. Groundhops tend to fall into two camps, the Step 5 and 6 which are based an established, enclosed grounds and tend to attract the less-experienced hopper, and the lower-level type which tends to be in far less enclosed facilities and attracts the more seasoned hopper. Each type has its own challenges, advantages and disadvantages, and require almost completely different planning. Problems encountered by, say Worsbrough Bridge will be different to those at Cilgerran. Allowing hoppers to pre-book tickets for individual games helps a little, but we were pleased that sales went well across the board.  For all of that, some things never change and so 5 of use found ourselves at the League offices in Peterborough making up 100-or-so programme packs early on Friday morning and ferrying hoppers to one of the 5 hotels we’d booked.

All too soon it was soon time to load all the boxes on to the coach, I’m not sure what Rick the driver made of that, but we had more than usual to lump around. We decided with so many GroundhopUK events coming up to have a table at the games with Wales and North Berks hop tickets on sale. We also wanted to show the James Rennie Trophy too. If you didn’t know James was a popular Milton Keynes-based hopper who tragically died aged 40 in May, and the North Berkshire League have graciously allowed the last game of their hop, to also be for the trophy. The first match for the trophy will be on September 20th at the Defence Academy near Shrivenham between Benson Lions and Grove Rangers.

Over the years I’ve developed a trained eye as to how well a club is hosting. I strolled over to the turnstiles (from the old Wembley Stadium no less) and immediately relaxed. We were well over an hour early but already there was a lovely buzz around Outgang Road. That was no bad thing, as with the friendly maelstrom that surrounded our table as tickets were bought and programmes collected I had little or no time to help if corrective action had have been needed.

Paul Tolchard found me a team sheet and a curry (how does that bloke know my needs?) abut by the time UCL chairman John Weeks came over for a chat Deeping were in the lead through Ben Lewis. The centre half didn’t last much longer though, being sent off for a nasty-looking challenge that left Harborough defender Glen Robinson being carried of with a suspected broken leg. It didn’t affect Deeping’s dominance and the final score was a fair reflection on the passage of play.

Chris and I found time to have a brief chat with the visitors, the plan is for them to feature on next year’s hop, the current idea being to have a weekend in Rutland but that’s the far future and we had the rest if the weekend to consider first. That said the first club on the first day of a new hop is never easy so I’ll always be grateful to Deeping Rangers to getting the UCL/PDFL hop off to such a flying start. I did enjoy my pint back at the hotel!

 

 

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