Wednesday 21st MArch 2012 ko 7.45pm
Cambridgeshire County League Senior A Division
NEEDINGWORTH UNITED 1 (Steward 40og)
HUNDON 1 (Hayes 17p)
Att 10 (h/c)
The small village of Needingworth lies close to St Ives, and for a small town a lot has happened. There’s a massive aggregate pit, which in time will become a nature reserve under the wing of the RSPB. The ground, Millfields, as the name suggests was linked to a long demolished windmill, and the village has gained an excellent sports facility. There’s room for 4 football pitches, as well as a cricket pitch, together with the clubhouse, opened by local MP John Major in 1992. Surrounding the whole lot is Falklands Walk, an area of woodlands and footpaths funded by a unit of the Royal Engineers after their posting to the Falklands in 1989. Yes, it’s all very neat, if a little bland, the trouble is that the locals patently don’t care about their football club.
And what a bonny little club it is. Run by a small band of stalwarts, it was an absolute pleasure to spend a couple of hours in their company. From running a line, to making tea, to sorting out two bottles of wine for the raffle prize, everything was done with humour and a friendly welcome, so why on average do only 4 locals come and watch their team?
Yes, the team are struggling, near the bottom of the second tier of the league, a feeder to the United and Eastern Counties Leagues. They once had a ground inspection for acceptance into the UCL, but balked at the cost of adding the lights and stand they had already. The stand got sold to Ramsey Town, themselves refugees from the UCL, but so far hasn’t been erected there. On the pitch relegation happened despite the league rather liking a floodlit ground in the Premier Division.
This game saw two clubs struggling to maintain their place in the division. The home officials happily admitted they’d be happy for a point, and that both sides would probably still be the same division next season due to a withdrawal and a lack of clubs wanting to make the step up.
The game was therefore exactly as I expected, nervy and error strewn. The moment of controversy was when Hundon’s Jamie Farlie was put clean through on goal. The keeper Tom Kulik went in on him with his knee raised, and a penalty was the only decision referee Brian Lewis could possibly make. The question was, should it be interpreted as dangerous play or denying a goal scoring opportunity too? Lewis opted not to, arguing that a penalty was enough, and took into account on the fact the Kulik had been on the receiving end of a studs-up challenge the previous Saturday. Probably against FA directives, but instinctively correct. Jamie Hayes slotted home the spot kick neatly.
Needingworth got the equalizer in bizarre circumstances. Luke Gatford swung in a corner to the near post and there was Ben Steward to head home… past his own keeper! The second half was a bitty affair, with few chances, but to be honest I was enjoying the company too much to care!
I left having watched a distinctly average game, but loved this little club with a big heart. I wish the locals would walk down the road and discover what I drove for 2 hours to find.