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Friday 15th September 2017 ko 19.30

Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy First Round

MILTON UNITED 2 (Morgan 23 Davies 75)

STANFORD-IN-THE-VALE 0

Att 91

Entry £5

Programme £1

It seems that part of the ritual of the North Berkshire League Hop is a precursor game. The tradition started in 2014 when I wanted to do something to help Abingdon Town, and despite the lack of floodlights in the league, just Uffington United this season we’ve managed to stage one every year since. Who could forget the Wally Bus?

The idea of these games is to give anyone staying overnight for the hop a game to see. The idea isn’t to include them on the hop, every single precursor game has been a previously “hopped” club after all. We make sure there’s a programme for anyone who wants one, but other than that whatever the club wants to do is fine by us.

It was Chris Berezai that spotted this fixture scheduled for the Saturday. He suggested it could moved, I contacted Milton, they agreed, and after a little negotiation, the Berks and Bucks FA and Stanford-in-the-Vale came on board. As Tim at Milton put it,

“We can play the game in front of noone on Saturday, or attract a crowd on Friday”

He was proved to be absolutely correct.

The whole fixture was fascinating on two levels, firstly the Milton United we’re used to will soon be no more, the houses are rapidly encroaching, and part of the land the club sits on will be swallowed up by the development. The pitch won’t move, the club are keen to stay put as Oxford United did a lot of work on it when they used “The Heights” as a training base.

They will get a new clubhouse, nearer to Potash Lane than the current one, and they’re hoping for a 3G training/community pitch too. After the shenanigans over fellow Hellenic League club Headington Amateurs ground I’d suggest they check every letter of the agreement!

The second intriguing point was the match-up. You’d expect a side in the Hellenic League Division One East to beat a side new to the North Berkshire League Division One wouldn’t you? Now obviously I’m biased but I do hold Stanford in very high regard. They did a fine job hosting a hop game in 2012, and secretary Neil Falcini was the very first person from the North Berkshire League I ever spoke to!

Back in 2010 Chris and I needed a precursor game for the last (to-date) Hellenic Hop and I was tasked with contacting someone from Didcot Casuals who played on Didcot Town’s floodlit second pitch. Neil was involved at the Casuals then, and if it wasn’t for him, then that game would never have taken place and we’d have never had 7 years (and counting) of the North Berkshire Hop. So many reasons to be grateful!

And despite the result Neil and everyone at Stanford have every reason to be extremely proud of their efforts. The better side won, but the visitors fought with everything they had, and did themselves and the North Berkshire League proud.

But the irony really started when the Berks & Bucks made the draw for the second round! Milton have been drawn at home to Kintbury Rangers latterly of the Hellenic, and until this season members of the North Berkshire League.

Tim, I promise I won’t ask you guys to move that fixture! All the very best and thanks for looking after us so well. It was a lovely way to start the weekend.

 

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