Saturday 5th May 2018 ko 17.00
Central Midlands League- South Division
HILTON HARRIERS 1 (Jones 14og)
HUCKNALL TOWN 0
On one hand the hop had been hugely enjoyable, and a fourth game would have been welcome, on the other, the red faces told the story of sunburn on a hot day. Perhaps it was no bad thing it was only a 3 game day!
The Derbyshire village of Hilton is famous for being the birthplace of Herbert Massey the leader of the Great Escape from Stalag Luft III in March 1944. He was fortunate to escape the fate of 50 of the escapees who were shot on Hitler’s orders. Massey’s birthplace is marked with a blue plaque.
When this hop was put together my first question was was this the same ground used by Hilton Athletic of The (Derby/Ashbourne) Summer League? It isn’t, they play around a mile away in Meadow Lane. Harriers home is the purpose-built The Mease, their home since their formation in 1992.
Now if you’ve being reading these articles for a while, you’ll know how much I love to see someone from the host club meet and greet the coach. On the most basic level it makes sure we’re parked in the right place, and it sets the tone for the visit.
Well Hilton Harriers and chairman Allan Savile took that idea and multiplied it by 10. I’ve not seen a club mow a path from the parking spot, then rope it off just to make sure noone’s access was impeded! Well thanks Hilton for your kindness and I hope your good deed was translated into a successful evening.
I must admit, when I got my first glance at this tie my eyebrow raised. I still think of Hucknall Town as a far bigger club than Step 7, my visit to Watnall Road saw them beat Lancaster City in the Conference North. It was odd to see them playing a side just 16 years old.
Their fall was both brutal and swift, and any neutral can only hope they can regain at least some of their lost status in the future. They certainly retain some of their old support and were rather unlucky to lose this one, especially as the difference was a rather unfortunate own goal.
But this was Harriers’ day in every respect, and looked at as part of of this 4-game hop it was an event that all of our host clubs managed to cover themselves in glory. Thanks to them, and their volunteers, it really was great day out.
Hopefully that will convince the league to run with the normal, expanded format next year. In the original hops the Central Midland League always came with the reputation and the crowds that you’d expect at Step 5/6 events, much as the South West Peninsula Hop does now.
Part of that history was forged by the redoubtable Rob Hornby, and it would have been good to have seen him at the hop that he helped to create. Rob’s now at the rival Notts Senior League, and the footballing politics between them and the CMFL tends to be complicated. Nevertheless the invitation still stands.
The next day saw all ticket holders gain free entry at the CMFL’s cup finals (North and South divisions). Unusually for anything GroundhopUK run, I opted out. There was a good reason though, there was someone who both Chris Berezai and wanted to support, and I was best placed to do just that.