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Sunday 30th July 2017 ko 11.00

Peterborough & District League Division One

LONG SUTTON ATHLETIC 0

TYDD ST MARY 0

Match abandoned 12 minutes- serious injury

Att 346

Entry £4

Programme £1

The coach parked up outside the ground and in front the main road looked choked. It was a mixture of through traffic, and groundhoppers who in many cases had found inappropriate places to park. The inevitable happened, a hopper’s car scraped a local’s car and apart from the thoroughly unpleasant exchange of views afterwards the best he can hope for is the loss of his no claims bonus. I wonder whether he’ll book the coach next time? I however had other thoughts…

I know and understand the hopper that doesn’t look below Step 6. The perception is usually that the football below that level is played on fields, with no stands or floodlights. That frame of mind causes me some amusement when the closed minds lose out on some gems.

There was the hopper who told me not to bother with the 2016 South West Peninsula Hop because “It’ll all be fields.” I wonder what he made of the photos of Wendron and St Dennis? Then there was another hopper who decided not to bother with the last day of the 2015 UCL/PDFL Hop as he’d done Thrapston and the other two were “Just fields,” then watched horrified as Oundle was everything he could have wished for and more, as was Kings Cliffe and they had skydivers too! The trick is, of course let the hops happen, and enjoy the gems as and when they occur. Neither of the prejudiced duo were at Long Sutton, and yes, they missed out on a gem.

The clue was the club’s history. The were founder members of the Eastern Counties League Division One in 1988 and left in 1995, to be placed rather cruelly in the PDFL’s bottom division. Although ground gradings have clearly experienced some inflation since, the facilities are still excellent, with a stand and floodlights that the club seem rather nervous about using. I got the impression that if the club had managed to stay in the ECL, they’d have got the required facilities. But then, they’d have neither got a hop game, nor a crowd like this.

I tend to expect larger crowds on the Sunday, there’s little or no competition for the football fan’s wallet. I even wondered if the crowd here was what we’d have got if there’d have been less competition the day before? Either way Long Sutton certainly got the locals out to support them and made the most of the opportunity a bumper crowd gives.

The tragedy was the injury to Long Sutton’s Glen Wells that ended the game early. A hard challenge saw him break his tibia and fibula, the first responders arrived after around half an hour and since he couldn’t be safely moved, the game was correctly abandoned around 50 minutes after the initial injury. The club’s reaction was admirable, a bucket collection raised £350, the club have donated half the gate receipts to him and a sponsored cycle ride is taking place to help him. Click here for how you can help. Although the ambulance took so long to reach the ground he ended up going to hospital by taxi, the leg was operated on successfully and he’s now at home recuperating.

Obviously we’ll look to pay Long Sutton another visit, and I’d like if possible to make use of those lights! The main issue will be to find other clubs to pair it with, particularly as Boston Town have turned down the opportunity to host. But there are two pieces of good news, firstly that Glen Wells is on the mend, and secondly that I now have the opportunity to point those two hoppers in the right direction!

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