, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday 3rd October 2011 ko 7.45

Hellenic League Floodlit Cup 2nd Round

HIGHMOOR-IBIS 4 (Campbell 23 Small-King 45 Brown 61 Stargatt 71)

SHRIVENHAM 1 (Maximen 71)

Att 78 (h/c)

Entry & Programme £4

Coffee 60p

Palmer Park, Reading is somewhere I have, perhaps more connections to than you’d expect for a bloke from Oxford. That’s mainly because my ex-wife is from nearby Henley-on-Thames, and this trip saw me drive through the town for the first time for a while on the way. Not much has changed, but then not much ever does.

I’d actually played 5-a-side at Palmer Park many moons and stones ago, and far more recently used to enjoy delicious, and gargantuan Sunday lunches at Colley’s Supper Rooms on the corner of nearby St Bartholemew’s  Avenue. Sadly Colley’s closed and is being refitted as a bar and grill. It won’t be the same…

Palmer Park takes its name from the biscuit making family (Huntley & Palmer) and George Palmer is a former town mayor. The family bequeathed the park in 1889, and it still retains much grandeur with the gates and entrance house. In fact the stadium at its centre is the one element that is modern, but it forms a fairly small part of the park’s footprint.

The stadium is a fairly typical athletics affair, albeit with a velodrome around the running track making the pitch extremely distant. This may have something to do with why 10 years ago Peppard FC had to vacate as the pitch was found to be too narrow! I’d wondered how this had been worked around, the answer is that two strips of astroturf have been placed on either side of the pitch. Therefore the grass forms the pitch up to each touchline, and the linesmen run on the astroturf! It’s a bit “Heath Robinson” but it does work.

Of course Highmoor are new to all this. Their home is the Ibis club, the Sports and Social club of the insurance company Prudential who have a large presence in the town. That is in Scours Lane, adjacent to Reading Town FC, and with the club’s elevation the Hellenic League Division One East, better facilities were needed. The trouble with this solution, is that the club’s organisation will need to keep pace. This game attracted quite a few hoppers, and as a result the programmes sold out a good 35 minutes before kick off. The only catering was the athletics clubhouse, but that closed for a committee meeting before kick off. The whole event, whilst convivial enough, lacked any atmosphere.

The game didn’t help, or at the very least the first half. On paper Premier division Shrivenham should have won easily but Ibis player manager Shame Small-King has no lack of experience, or self belief! He knows this level well having scored a hatful of goals for the AFC Wallingford side that finished above AFC Wimbledon in the 90’s. He’s carrying some timber these days, but sat in the hole behind the front men and pulled the strings, and scored a scorcher from 25 yards just before half time. You expected a reaction from the visitors, but none came, did they care? Just two chances, the second straight after the Ibis fourth.

So, not much of a game but this was about a lot more than just the game for me.