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Tuesday 11th July 2017 ko 18.45

Pre-season Friendly

PENN & TYLERS GREEN 0

WINDSOR FC 1 (Shafi 18)

Att c40

Entry £2

I reckon that in groundhopping circles Penn & Tylers Green have got an unnecessarily bad press. I know why, I remember the Hellenic Hop visiting quite a few of the grounds of Division 1 East at Step 6, and I know of a few southern-based hoppers that took some convincing that a trip to the Step 7 Central Midlands League Hop was a worthwhile exercise. I heard the comments, along the lines that if Division One East was little more than railed off fields than what must the level below be like?

Of course that attitude did the Central Midlands League a disservice, and it did the clubs of the Hellenic League Division One East a disservice too, and somehow Penn & Tylers Green’s French School Meadow Ground got dragged into the conversation too, despite, to date never having hosting a hop game.

Yes, I know that when I first visited 15 years ago it was little more than a railed off pitch some distance from a clubhouse that served the tennis club too. But it was that way for a reason.

Penn, in Buckinghamshire isn’t so much in London community belt, it’s more in millionaires row! The village is named after the Penn family who own Seagrave Manor, and have done so since Sybil Penn was dry nurse to Elizabeth I. The American state of Pennsylvania is name after Admiral Sir William Penn, who originated from these parts. Nowadays the likes of Mary Berry and actress Pauline Quirke live here.

And when the area is this affluent, the local football club has to fight its corner. There’s likely to be fewer players living close by and the second the club tries to improve the ground, the prejudice really starts. You want a stand, or lights? That’ll damage the peace of the area or a damage the habitat of a previously unknown animal. I’ve heard it all over the years, and that’s what makes what is happening at Penn & Tylers Green all the more remarkable.

The pitch that caused the derision is still there, you can see it in the background of many of the photos. But the ground between it and the clubhouse has been levelled, and a new pitch created. There’s hard standing on 2 sides and a covered enclosure made out of a shipping container. A payhut/catering outlet has been built at the entrance, and all of a sudden the club have created a ground that in time will fulfil Step 6 ground gradings.

The thorniest problem will be getting floodlights, but the tennis courts may prove to be their saviour here. Sadly now defunct Hook Norton had precisely the same situation as Penn & Tylers Green, but they too had floodlit tennis courts. As the saying goes, “What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.” Hopefully, finally the club will be allowed to progress.

On an evening where it positively bucketed down Penn were slightly unlucky to lose to Windsor who have just been laterally transferred to the Hellenic Premier. Whilst the visitors’ kit was certainly distinctive, there was nothing much to choose between the two sides. In a game of many substitutions Nadir Shafi’s strike settled the tie, but this was an evening to try to stay dry, and marvel at how much progress the hosts have made off the pitch. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to wish them well.

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