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Tuesday 17th January 2017 ko 19.45

Isthmian League Premier Division

METROPOLITAN POLICE 1 (Michael-Percil 45p)

BILLERICAY TOWN 1 (Adelowo 1)

Att 108

Entry £10

Programme £2

Football does have the happy habit of throwing up quirks, and London’s police force having a side in the third tier of non-league is certainly one. The side are based at the force’s sports and social club, Imber Court in Molesey, just a stone’s throw from Hampden Court. It is worth noting that Molesey is no longer under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police!

On an afternoon kick-off at Imber Court there’s also the likelihood of seeing a flock of parakeets too! No-one seems to know why hundreds of the birds can be seen, some blame Jimi Hendrix for releasing a breeding pair, others Humphrey Bogart, as the movie “The African Queen” was filmed at Shepperton Studios near here. The only problem is that the film was produced in 1951, Hendrix was resident in the late 60’s and the birds have been sighted since the late 19th century…

There were no birds around on this freezing evening, threatening a sodden pitch with frost. It would have been a shame to lose the game, Imber Court is one of the better grounds on the circuit and it has a quirk all of it’s own. When you go, pay attention to the floodlights.

They are, in truth, hard to miss, being of the traditional “Tower” variety, but there are only 3 of them! In the past the ground was three-sided, the fourth side being open, for cricket so the lights had to be installed to reflect that. The ground has long since been fully enclosed and an extra floodlight installed, but it doesn’t match the others!

I’m pleased to report that yes, the team do still enter the field of play to The Clash’s version of “I fought the law,” perhaps since writer Bobby Fuller was no stranger to a police cell that wouldn’t be the done thing! These days while the team’s management are police staff, the players are not, the serving officers play in dedicated police competitions.

The game was one you really didn’t want to be late for, with Gabriel Adelowo opening the scoring for Billericay inside of the first minute. I suspect that the hosts are more than happy to be in the Isthmian Premier, but Billericay confident and under new ownership have loftier ambitions. They looked capable of pulling away after the earlier goal, but to the Police’s great credit they fought their way back into the game, and in the end could easily have won the tie.

Dedicated to groundhopper Raymond “Fred” Flood. Get well soon.

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