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Friday 12th February 2016 ko 19.45

Eastern Counties Counties League Premier Division

HADLEIGH UNITED 1 (Clarke 78)

HAVERHILL ROVERS 1 (Weaver 30)

Att 85

Entry £7

Programme £1

Hadleigh is, well to put it bluntly, genteel. The Suffolk town sits aside the River Brett, and has an incredible 246 listed buildings! The Guardian’s architecture critic Jonathan Glancey lives here as does actor Patrick Newell and fashion designer Caryn Franklin. What is completely incomprehensible is that shock metal band Cradle of Filth were formed here, perhaps it was a reaction to the gentle pace of life!

You cross over the Brett to reach the Millfield, at the end of Tinkers Lane. It’s a narrow lane, which seems to add to the sense of anticipation. At the end of the journey is the kind of ground the groundhoppers love, full of quirks and character, and the type the ground graders seem to be trying to bulldoze into a sanitised world of Meccano stands, and plastic flip-up seats.

It was a pleasure to have my scampi and chips cooked to order, yes I can wait, and after a long journey it was good to just slow down and relax for a couple of hours. Whatever Hadleigh achieve this season I will remember them for being darned good company.

One thing the Eastern Counties League does well is Friday night football and there were plenty of hoppers taking full advantage. Perhaps its for the best that none of them spotted that the referee was Alexander Guy, in hopper circles he’s best known as the referee that called off the “Groundhopper Day” game at kick-off time at Felixstowe in by all accounts rather controversial circumstances…..

Whatever happened then, he had a good night here, managing a committed game well. The hosts will, I suspect feel slightly relieved to have got a point, relying on Anton Clarke’s thunderbolt after some decidedly profligate finishing earlier.

In fact the only disappointment was the attendance. The ECL’s Friday Night Football intiative has proved popular, so I do wonder why this crowd was of an ordinary magnitude? It’s not a massive distance (28 miles) between the two clubs, and there were no lack of hoppers, so hopefully this was a Friday night statistical blip!

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