Saturday 27th July 2019 ko 11.00

Peterborough & District League Premier Division

FC PARSON DROVE 3 (Davey 18 39 Hamilton 34)

Cawthorn missed penalty 31

Young sent off 90 (violent conduct)

OAKHAM UNITED 0

Att 261

Entry £4

Programme £1

The PDFL’s footprint is one of contrasts, from the urbane to the rural. You’re where the Midlands meets East Anglia and we’ve visited clubs with histories in the Eastern Counties League. The hop coach left Peterborough and headed east as the roads grew straighter and the topography flattened out.

That idea of a link to the Eastern Counties League includes FC Parson Drove. Wisbech St Mary have a team in the ECL, but their reserve team de-merged to form their own team, Wisbech St Mary Saints. We saw them as an away team at Spalding Town last year, but they moved into the vacant Parson Drove Ground, and changed name in the process.

On one level the home of Britain’s final working temporary woad mill, in the rural Fenlands isn’t the most obvious place to establish and grow a football club although I do think the club ought to play in indigo coloured kit! After all the village’s population is only around 1,000 and two previous Parson Drove clubs folded, one after being turned down for entry to the Eastern Counties League. But FC Parson Drove aren’t your typical Step 7 club.

The centre of it all is chairman and manager Gary Haime. Now I’d passed the ground when I’d visited Wisbech St Mary and saw that it was way better than for recreational football so when the usual, and dare I say inevitable comments about any ground below being Step 6 being no more than a field happened, I allowed myself a bigger smile even than normal. I know Step 7 and off-pyramid football means a wide variance in facilities and what we saw at Parson Drove was certainly one of the best I’ve seen at it’s level. Thankfully those facilities were needed, as the rain was coming down in torrents.

So if you’re one of those hoppers who mentally switches off when the PDFL or the like gets mentioned have a look at these photos, and for those of us that were there give thanks, it wouldn’t have been much fun getting soaked then watching 3 more games.

I liked what the club tried to do for their day even if at times their ideas were thwarted. The bouncy castle and fair was a valiant attempt at what Sawtry managed so brilliantly 3 years ago, but here the weather put paid to anyone using it. Then the catering let them down, so some improvisation was needed but if you’re Robyn then then FC Parson Drove did one thing that was an act of genius.

Picture the scene; my fiancee is squelching her way over from the coach and picking her area of cover, but then spots the gin van… we didn’t see her much after that!

It would be remiss of me to to not mention our friends at Oakham United. They were excellent hosts back in 2015, and who could forget manager Wayne Oldaker’s attempt to attend every single hop game that year? Wayne’s no longer there, and the club lost their UCL status the season before last. They came into this game having played in three hop games (1 PDFL 2 UCL), won 3 and never scored less than 5 goals in any of them.

Sadly at no point did Oakham look like continuing that run. Parson Drove were worthy winners even if they did lose Connor Young to a late red card for lashing out after a heavy challenge. Robyn had the dubious pleasure of watching him explain his early appearance in the clubhouse- to his mother helping out at the food hatch!!

There could have been a quite bizarre fourth goal as well. Parson Drove goalkeeper Callum Summers has a free kick in his own penalty box. He gave it an almighty swipe, and the ball bounced once before flying over the head of his opposite number, Charley Griffiths and into the net. Now the groundhopper who pointed out to the linesman that the free kick was indirect, and the ball hadn’t touched another player before going in, but I wasn’t the only one there who wished he’d kept quiet.

There was a little controversy too. It was noted that Parson Drove made 4 substitutions, but isn’t all football below Step 7 now using rolling substitutions? Whatever the rule in place here, if one too many changes were made then it would have made no difference to the result.

Postscript

In the aftermath of this game, Parson Drove were charged and found guilty by the PDFL of making one too many substitutions. The rule in the league is the normal maximum of 3 substitutions in the Premier Division and rolling substitutions in the lower divisions. The points and were taken from Parson Drove and awarded to Oakham United.

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