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Saturday 6th October 2018 ko 19.45

Western League Premier Division

CRIBBS 2 (Dowdell 4 Wanjah-Smith 83)

HENGROVE ATHLETIC 1 (Fear 74)

Att 227

Entry £6

Programme £1

I remember well my feeling of unease when I first visited Cribbs six years ago. Back then the ground and club were very much the works side of insurance company Friends Life, and as couple of years earlier that firm in its guise as AXA had turned me down for a job twice! It’s strange how things work out isn’t it, if on either occasion I’d have got the job, there would have been a fairly high chance that I’d have moved to Bristol. Now given my fiancee Robyn is from Bristol that would have been handy, but we didn’t meet for another 6 or so years… and if I’d moved then would we have ever met?

The club used to be AXA Sunlife on formation in 2000 but dropped the suffix soon after. When AXA sold its Friends Life arm to Aviva in 2013 the firm’s Bristol operation at Cribbs became Aviva too and the football club became Cribbs Friends Life. Soon after through the sports grounds were sold by Aviva to Redmaid’s High School for girls, the school being probably best know for having TV anthroplogist Prof. Alice Roberts as a former pupil. As a result the club dropped the Friends Life suffix in 2013.

You could look at the ground’s change of ownership and worry. A sports and social club and school playing fields are not necessarily easy bedfellows, especially as Cribbs’ lease is nearing its end. But Redmaids’ do seem to be doing this purely as a means of giving themselves excellent facilities and to their great credit seem to have realised they’ve got more than enough space to do that without disturbing Cribbs, or even Bristol Rovers who train here! Hopefully that entente cordiale will continue, as what as been provided here is excellent, and what Cribbs did for the visiting throng here was excellent!

As organiser you love to see a full clubhouse, even if the drop in temperature outside did serve to help to push the clientele in the direction of the catering. But once there, the Shepherd’s Pie kept us all the there, to the extent that I very nearly missed kick-off!

Other than the game there was much more for me to enjoy. For one Robyn wasn’t due to see her family so her sister Kelly and I colluded a little to get her Mum and her nieces to the game. The look on Robyn’s face when the 4 of them turned up was a treat!

Speaking of Robyn and her family, Martin McConachie and Hengrove Athletic were very kind in offering their clubhouse for Robyn’s 30th birthday party recently so it was lovely to catch up with Martin and stock up with Hengrove merchandise! Now I know as organiser I’m not supposed to take sides, but hopefully the good people of Cribbs will understand that I really wanted Hengrove to take something from this game, despite having had a dreadful start to the season.

I can’t say they deserved a point, even if I inwardly cheered Mark Fear’s equaliser. So when Sol Wanjah-Smith scored the winner with just 3 minutes I felt the mixed feelings of sadness for Martin and my friends at Hengrove but pleased for all at Cribbs, who’d managed to completely alter my perception of them.

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