Monday 13th February 2012 ko 7.45pm
Isthmian League Premier Division
BILLERICAY TOWN 2 (Chatting 59 80)
HENDON 1 (Rankine 90)
Entry £9.50 + £1 stand transfer
Programme (reissue from postponed game) £2
Cheeseburger & Chips £3.50
There’s two people responsible for my attendance at this one; one is Peter Grant, the other is Paul “Splodge” Proctor. Neither had met the other, but both know me and each said they were going. I honestly didn’t think I could get to this part of Essex from a 5 o’clock start in Banbury, but despite roadworks, the M25 behaved itself and I arrived at the New Lodge well before kick off. Trouble is, with me not expecting to go to a game I’d travelled without my clipboard, a stopwatch, or a camera. Still, you make do with what you’ve got, so the pictures are courtesy of my iphone!
Upon entering the ground, I immediately was nervous. Yes, the pitch had been cleared of snow, the piles making an interesting backdrop, but the pitch looked very wet. Still, noone seemed to be bothered, so I made my way to the clubhouse to see who I recognised. Apart from Pete and Splodge, there were a multiplicity of London based hoppers, taking advantage of the unusual day for football. They are affectionately known as the “South London Old Gits Club,” and seeing the 10 or so there, you do wonder why the smaller clubs don’t go for the less popular evenings, to try for this “Passing trade.” The reason for this Monday, I was told, was to avoid Valentine’s Day!!!
The New Lodge is the kind of hotch potch I like in a ground. There’s a pitched roof stand, slightly too narrow to be completely fit-for-purpose, a flat roofed building including the clubhouse seemingly getting in the way. With the club top of the league, there looks to be little or no work to be done for the place to qualify for Conference Regional status.
However, for success at that level I would suggest that the Billericay strikers should actually try shooting!! I’d got talking before the game to an elderly gent, who pointed out his grandson, midfielder Harrison Chatting, and was pleased to see him get a start. It proved to be a good mark for my card, as the dimunitive player was the spark, and finally the fire that won the game. He ran, he fell over, he tried everything he could, but was let down by the unwillingness of his team-mates to finish what he started. In the second half he decided to do it himself, despite being the shortest player on the park he rose beautifully to head home, then fired home a half chance to win the game. Hendon offered nothing, their goal a mugging of home keeper Dale Brightly by former Bradford and Brentford professional Isaiah Rankin.
The only minor blemish of a decent night’s entertainment was an injury time brawl. It was utterly without any point, and referee Ian Bentley did well to keep 22 men on the pitch. Chatting had long since departed, his work done.