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Friday 7th April 2012 ko 10.45am

Northern Counties East League Division One

ECCLESHILL 2 (Edwards 26p Smith 90og)

DINNINGTON TOWN 3 (Trench 11 72 Mirfin 53)

Att 253

Entry & Programme Hop Ticket

Badge £3

Raffle £1

After watching the forty or so hoppers take full advantage for a buffet breakfast at the hotel, we set off north for the first of four games today.

It had many years since I’d last visited Bradford. The cliches about Mosques and Temples do hold to some extent, but the ward of Eccleshill is more suburb than sikh, and Plumpton Park a green oasis. There’s tradition, the sadly disused urinals that a tall person could have used and continued to watch the game, and the stand whose seat numbers aren’t sequential. I watched our coach load languidly walk round and enjoy the facilities.

If the NCEL wanted a blueprint on how to host a hop game, this was it. From the moment I walked in, the club showed wonderful hospitality, even down to a gentleman cleaning down the seats in the stand. I was asked “Are we doing all right” by chairman Adrian, “Mate, I replied it really couldn’t be better.” Bacon Rolls and sausages were bought at a quite incredible rate, and Chris and I had to do nothing more than enjoy a cup of tea and chat with the club and League officials who again had turned out in force.

There was a presentation to Andy Sykes of Dinnington by League Chairman David Morrall, to mark the players 400th appearance, before the real action started.

Dinnington started brightly, and opened the scoring in spectacular fashion with Michael Trench’s superb free kick going in with the help of the post. Marcus Edwards replied for Eccleshill from the penalty spot after Sykes was adjudged to have handled.

After the break a defence splitting ball put Dinnington’s Simon Mirfin clean through, and he made no mistake slotting past home keeper Dominic Smith. Finishing was the difference between the two sides, as Eccleshill were to miss two gilt-edged chances. Andy Howland’s miss was bad, but Marcus Edwards effort – a yard out with the keeper behind him was incredible. No-one, not even him will understand how it was physically possible to get the ball over the ball from there! The player could do little else in the aftermath than weakly smile.

United were made to pay as Liam Cartledge’s erudite lay-off found Trench, and he blasted home from 25 yards. A little rough on the friendly hosts, who found scant solace in Matt Smith’s late own goal. By that time the clubs were enjoying the phenomenon of “Groundhoppers itch” where hoppers get itchy feet and head for the exits with a few minutes left!

I thanked the club for their efforts and headed for the coach. Another 3 to do, you see!