Monday 28th December 2015 ko 12.00
Eastern Counties League Premier Division
FELIXSTOWE & WALTON UNITED 2 (Schaar 30 Driver 55)
WHITTON UNITED 0
Now very much with my North Berkshire League committeeman hat on I’m going to make a statement that might surprise you. I feel sorry for Felixstowe, yes that’s right! Perhaps I should explain why.
Two years ago the management committee of the Eastern Counties League decided to run a “Groundhoppers’ Day” that clashed with a hop in the North Berkshire League that I organise. Unfortunate, but the ECL’s management refusal to negotiate or communicate saw their event fail to get anywhere near the crowds it should have, and to cap a poor weekend for them the opening game at Felixstowe was postponed at kick off due to fog. Now I can’t comment as to whether that was the right decision, I wasn’t there, because I couldn’t be, but I’ll always wonder why time wasn’t given for the fog to (hopefully) clear.
It led to Felixstowe being poster boys for the failures of the league’s committee, and if you think that’s an exaggeration then consider the sheer volume of phone calls I took from hoppers asking when GroundhopUK was going to sort out the “Groundhopper Days?” That will never happen now, although I’m still willing to speak to the ECL’s committee to avoid any further diary clashes. I’d like to think even simply doing that could arrest the “Groundhoppers’ Day’s” falling attendances.
But whatever the politics of the piece are, none of what happened back then should reflect on Felixstowe, they may well have ended up being an excellent host club, but they didn’t get the chance one way or the other. And the irony of me paying the place a visit before some of the disappointed hoppers that September was not lost on me.
And let’s put the record completely straight. I enjoyed greatly my visit to Dellwood Avenue. Please dear visitor do not walk past the clubhouse/cricket pavilion near the car park, the club might feel it’s on the wrong side of decrepit, but the welcome is fulsome, and the display of memorabilia is fascinating.
The club are looking to build a new clubhouse at one corner of the ground, and having the ground and all of its facilities fully enclosed will no doubt help the club progress further. And let’s face it, on the pitch they’ve got a team that is capable of Isthmian League football. Yes, Whitton are bottom but this was the most one-sided 2-0 you’ll ever see, and Felixstowe moved the ball beautifully on a heavy surface.
It was a quick dash at the end, with FC Clacton kicking off at 3, which in some respects was a pity, it would have been good to linger. But as I sped away I smiled as I realised that I no longer saw the club as the embodiment of a few Eastern Counties League committeemen’s failure. I’m so glad I went.