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Sunday 31st July 2016 ko 17.30

Peterborough & District League Division One

WITTERING HARRIERS 5 (Lockwood 23secs Middleton 27 Braint 37 Cayley 56 Tippett 90)

LONG SUTTON ATHLETIC 2 (W Oliver 3 Cawthorn 59)

Att 250

Entry £4

Programme £1

The throng finally managed to escape Sawtry’s car park and headed off for the last game of the hop. We were bound for the RAF town of Wittering, and in the planning stage this did throw up an unusual decision or two. The club do play some of their games on the air base, beyond security so there was a decision on where to play this one. At GroundhopUK we’ve held games with a security check, who could forget Benson Lions at the Defence Academy in Shrivenham? In this case though the base don’t seem to like Wittering holding all their games there, so we decided to stick with the straightforward, for this time anyway!

I have to say I was a little worried. Well in advance of the event we knew that Sawtry were going to do amazing things so Chris Berezai and I were very keen that that in comparison Wittering’s efforts wouldn’t look like a damp squib.

It didn’t help that they were going to bring in a burger van either. Leaving aside the fact that in effect its paying someone to take your profits away, the vans tend to be frankly dull. We advised against it, the club decided as is their right to ignore that advice so I was intrigued to see a barbecue drawing a brisk trade when we arrived. It transpired that the burger van can got what he thought was a better offer, and so cancelled the booking. The club contacted a local butcher and the rest… well the van man’s loss was the club’s gain.

Again the community focus was in evidence with the Women’s Institute providing a cake stall and a ready wit to go with the produce. It all added up to a lovely convivial atmosphere.

But let’s not underestimate that efforts Wittering FC put in. On any given Saturday this is an open pitch with no other facilities other than the goalposts. To secure it, put up tents, and even provide a bouncy slide is an amazing achievement. I hope the day was a profitable as it was enjoyable to attend.

The game was eminently watchable too, and let’s face it any game that has 2 goals in the first 3 minutes is unlikely to be a dud! In the end Wittering won well, and sent us all home with smiles on our faces. And ultimately, that should be the point of the exercise.

It proved to be a hop far better than I could have possibly wished for. Many thanks to all who either attended, officiated, volunteered or participated. You to a man, woman and child were excellent.

Writing with the benefit of a little hindsight, there’s been one intriguing development. In both 2014 and 2015 we had an issue with the Eastern Counties Counties League’s events clashing with one of ours and that league’s refusal to even negotiate over diary dates. I’d long since given up on any agreement being reached but then an email arrived in Chris Berezai’s inbox…

It was from an official of an Eastern Counties League club saying that he’d been asked by the ECL to organise their next event and since he has no experience of groundhops could we offer him any help or advice? It put us in a difficult position, on one hand we’re usually happy to help but given the ECL’s refusal to negotiate on dates we could not put any club on any of our hops in the position that they could lose out due to a clash with someone else’s hop we’ve indirectly advised. Chris explained the position, and the gentleman replied that,

“I must say I am appalled at the attitude of the ECL, and I can fully understand your position.”  

I’ve once again offered to negotiate on dates, and I hope that some agreement can be made. I know and like enough ECL clubs to hate seeing them lose out to poor crowds and organisation.

Moving on, our next hop is the annual Welsh hop, very much back in GroundhopUK’s roots in South Wales. There’s not long left to book, so here’s the link, and see you all there!

http://www.granddaysoutnetwork.co.uk/Wales2016.pdf

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