Wednesday 26th April 2012 ko 6.30pm
North Berkshire League Division Two
BERINSFIELD 4 (Stockford 21 79 Ingram 39p 62) Ingram missed penalty 42
BENSON LIONS 0
Att 57 (h/c)
80 minute game
Programme (by Mick Birt) FREE
Bacon Roll £1
With the amount of times I’ve seen Berinsfield, it was about time I paid Lay Avenue a visit. At work in Banbury I watched the rain pelt down, and as I left the streets were flooded. It couldn’t be on, could it? It was on, and best of all it was being well publicised by secretary Jackie Cullen on the social media, and by Jackie picking up the phone to each of the gaggle of hoppers that nervously checked before heading out. As it happened, the pitch was in superb condition.
The village of Berinsfield lies about 7 miles south of Oxford on the road to Reading. It occupies the site of RAF Mount Farm, a satellite of RAF Benson, initially used to train bomber pilots. It was later taken over by the United States Army Air Forces, who used it as a reconnaissance base. From here stars including Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour and Glenn Miller took off to entertain the troops in Europe. Miller performed for the US service personnel at the base in December 1944. From there he went to RAF Twinwood, boarded a Noorduyn Norseman single-engined aircraft, took off for Paris – and was never heard of again.
In 1957 the Air Ministry sold the airfield for civilian use. Bullingdon Rural District Council decided to build a new village – the first in England for 200 years – to be named after Birinus or Berin, a local saint. The word ‘field’ was added because the Americans called their base an airfield. To this day the village is markedly different to the obviously affluent villages that lie adjacent, Berinsfield is working class and proud of it, and the football club with its friendly welcome reflects this.
The club actually uses two pitches at Lay Avenue. This was to be the last game on the pitch used this evening, despite it facing the tea bar which did a roaring trade. The pitch will be rotated through 90 degrees, freeing up space for a children’s pitch. The “other” pitch will be used for first XI fixtures, and the rotated one for the club’s new reserve team. The club have just been turned down for floodlights.
It’s always more interesting watching a game with something riding on it, and with Berinsfield needing a point to take the Championship there was a real feeling of anticipation. With Benson Lions second from bottom it didn’t look likely that Berinsfield would miss out, especially when AJ Stockford (why does he always find a way into my reports?) was at the end of a slick passing move to open the scoring. This was a very special game to watch, with a good playing surface helping both sides to play attractive passing football. It would be easy to paint the Lions as the fall-guys in the piece, but they matched Berinsfield pass for pass, and only missed out on a point from great keeping by Berry’s Toby Coffey, and bad luck.
Berinsfield doubled their lead from the penalty spot after Stockford was brought down. Captain Mark Ingram slotted away the penalty to end the first half and was asked to repeat the feat in the opening salvo of the second. This time, the kick was weak, and the shot was saved by Andy Gillespie. He made up for it after 62 minutes, heading home at close range.
I should apologise at this point to David Murphy, as in my War Memorial Cup Final report I stated that there are only 3 things in life are guaranteed, death, taxes and David Murphy scoring for Berinsfield. It was therefore inevitable that Murphy would fail when I saw him next! He came close though, dancing through the entire Lions defence, only for his blocked shot to fall kindly to Stockford who made no mistake from a full yard out.
As the game wound down the club made a lasting impression on the 5 or so hoppers present. Jackie Cullen came out with a tray with 5 portions of sausage and chips for the hoppers that had visited. She commented, ” You’ve come to visit, the least we can do is feed you.” That’s 5 friends that club’s made for life, and reflects brilliantly on both the club, the league and the village itself.
As I drove out of the car park, something happened that summed up Berinsfield perfectly. I spotted 2 young lads wearing hoodies hanging around. I was just wondering, but then one of them grinned at me. It was AJ Stockford telling me to get home and start typing! Great people, great club, and congratulations on your championship.