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Saturday 20th September 2014 ko 10.00

North Berkshire League Division One

CROWMARSH GIFFORD 0

WALLINGFORD TOWN 1 (Searle 54)

Att 215

Entry & Programme £4

Beer; Loddon Brewery

Food: Breakfast baps, pizza

Off the top of my head this was the earliest time we at GroundhopUK have ever asked a club to kick-off, due entirely to getting 4 games on in a day, and giving people enough time to get through security at the MOD base later on.

I rather took to the town where Jethro Tull invented the seed drill when I visited them over a year ago report here, then again when they were the opponents at Long Wittenham in the final game of last year’s hop. Whilst the Recreation Ground isn’t the easiest to find, tucked as is behind a new housing development, there was plenty of space to work with. As organiser it doesn’t half help when your contact with the host club has both drive and initiative, so stand up club secretary Josh Nathanielsz, and take a bow. My suggestions were acted on, and given the Crowmarsh flavour, and the programme was for me, the best a North Berkshire League hop club has produced over the 4 years we’ve been doing this.

One of the articles in it was written by League Press Secretary Phil Annets on the club’s finest achievement, winning the NBFL in 2012 the all-important point coming in a tense last game of the season at Faringdon Town. What I haven’t told the club, was that someone else was there too….. click here!!

With competition for hoppers’ loyalties this time round we needed to find ways of boosting the attendance.  Josh and his team put up posters, and blitzed social media to make sure no one could possibly be unaware of the game! The league helped by making the visitors Wallingford Town, from over the nearby bridge over the Thames, making the tie a re-match of the final game of the very first NBFL hop back in 2011, report here.

Since then Wallingford have reverted back to their old name of Wallingford Town and changed their kit back to red and white stripes, and for this fan of local football, I’m glad to see this proud old club showing signs of a revival. Then, Crowmarsh cruised to a 3-0 win on this occasion it was altogether closer.

The game’s referee Darren Hill has an interesting footnote in North Berkshire League history. Last season the perennially unsuccessful, but charming Appleton Stars picked up their first and only point of the season here against Crowmarsh Reserves with Darren being the man in the middle. Considering they’d only picked up a solitary point in the previous two seasons it must have been rather galling when Crowmarsh Reserves withdrew from the league a week later, and Appleton’s point was expunged! Worse still, if Crowmarsh had have played one more game, the point would have stood!

This game was a typical blood and thunder local derby, with little to choose between the two sides. A moment of brilliance settled it, Ashley Searle’s sublime overhead kick was a fitting winner to a game and a staging that did massive credit to the teams and the North Berkshire League.

As a footnote this game saw the start of a lovely theme of previous host clubs sending a delegation to the game to support the hop. Here it was Stanford-in-the Vale, who hosted in 2012, report here, and in case you’re wondering whether this was a scouting mission, Stanford are in Division Two!! Thanks chaps, your support was much appreciated.

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