Saturday 28th November 2015 ko 14.00
Southern Combination League Division Two
COWFOLD 1 (Mitchell-Harris 16)
MONTPELIER VILLA 0
There’s something that timeless about the West Sussex village of Cowfold. Lying in the Sussex Weald between Haywards Heath and Billingshurst, the village is built around the crossroads of the A272 and A281. There’s the Parish Church of St Peter, a village hall and a pub, and life looks like its carried on at its own pace here, for time immemorial.
The visitor should take time to visit the Hare & Hounds pub for a pre-match pint and meal, the open fire is inviting and what could be more quintessentially English than a Good Beer Guide-quality real ale to wash down your fish and chips with? The football club’s centenary certificate is displayed to the right of the bar too!
But if a pub is quintessentially English then so is football on the village green. Cowfold FC have history dating back to 1897, but this is their first season at Step 7, in what used to be called the Sussex County League, and this elevation from the West Sussex Premier League to intermediate level football has seen the club have to rope off the pitch and provide rather cleverly designed dugouts on casters. The whole thing is dismantled after each game, and you do wonder how the club could progress further based here.
But perhaps that’s simply not relevant. This is a notably friendly grassroots club playing at its highest level ever and enjoying the experience for what it is. They clearly got a real buzz welcoming Falmer-based Montpelier Villa to their home for the first ever tie between the two clubs.
It’s Montpelier’s first season at this level too, graduating from the Brighton League, and on a cold wet afternoon, where the only ground that seemed not to be waterlogged was the pitch itself, the hosts play rather reflected the fact that they’ve adapted better to County League standards.
Cowfold scored just the once, a perfectly weighted free was expertly flick-headed home by Kyle Mitchell-Harris, but Montpelier’s issue seemed to be the paucity of chances they created. In the final analysis Cowfold keeper Paul Williams’ clean kit spoke volumes!
But for the casual visitor, once you eliminate the fripperies, you soon learn that football is about its people. And this trip to the Weald I’ll remember for precisely that.