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Friday 20th April 2012 ko 7.30pm

North Berkshire League War Memorial Cup Final

BERINSFIELD 5 (Rawlings 45 90 Kenny 46 D Murphy 56 Ingram 90)

SUTTON COURTENAY 2 (Oram 33 Childs 37) Johnson sent off 85 (2nd Booking)

Att 340 (h/c)

Played at Alfredian Park, Wantage. (Wantage Town FC)

Entry & Programme £2

That’s right folks, a measly two quid. I mean, what of significance can you buy for £2 these days? Of course, if you like the NBFL it buys you a fantastic evening’s entertainment.

The match was hosted by Wantage Town, a ground I’ve visited quite a few times over the years. It used to be positively ramshackle, I once described the stand as looking like a scene from “Tenko” but on each time I returned there have been improvements. Firstly the stand was rebuilt, then the ground enclosed. Now there’s a turnstile block, and I would imagine the ground now meets Southern League standards.

This is the North Berkshire League’s Cup for first XI’s that aren’t in the top division. The fact of the matter though, is that Berinsfield for the last two years have been in an entirely false position. For a long time the club were the enfants terrible of the local football scene. Thrown out of three leagues, the future looked bleak, but a new regime took over, and were determined that football would continue in Berinsfield but done the right way. They re-entered the NBFL last season and won Division 4, and became the first club outside Division 1 to win the League Cup, so were placed in this season’s Division 2.

The new attitude is typified by club secretary & welfare officer Jackie Cullen. She does things quietly and for this game she happily admitted to being nervous, barely able to watch the game. The club hired a coach and were responsible for at least 3/4 of a huge crowd, one that all clubs in the county bar Oxford United would love to have!

It really couldn’t have been a better match-up. Both sides beat the other 4-1 in the league, the first being the third game of the NBFL hop (https://laurencereade.wordpress.com/2011/09/25/like-hot-cakes/), so a dull game was unlikely! It was good to catch up with the NBFL committee, out in force as usual, and I watched the majority of the game with my mate Phil Annets, the league press officer, the only man who tells worse jokes than me!

If Berinsfield were the favourites, then clearly that point was lost on Courtenay. Two well taken goals in less than 5 minutes, gave Berinsfield a real mountain to climb. The game changed with virtually the last kick of the first half when Brian Rawlings broke clear to fire past Paul Brewerton. I went for a cup of tea with the committee, and the consensus was, “Game on!”

You couldn’t have foreseen just how prophetic that statement was. Twenty seconds after the restart, a free kick was swung in from the right, and there was Simon Kenny to fire in at the back post. Amazing stuff, and I do wonder if the half time team talk was mostly “Brought to you by the letter “F””

Now we all know that in life there are things that will always happen. There’s death, taxes, and David Murphy scoring for Berinsfield. Tonight’s goal was a little fortuitous, coming in no small part to a goalkeeping howler, but they all count! With Berinsfield in total control I strolled over to Jackie. ” Are we doing ok, I can’t watch!” she said. She had nothing to concern herself with, as Courtenay’s Ryan Johnson collected his second booking for his part in a minor spot of pushing and shoving. We were treated also to a cameo from the Berinsfield scorer in the groundhop game AJ Stockford as Courtenay were made to pay for that error of judgement.

Rawlings fired home again before Captain Mark Ingram headed home from a corner, deep into stoppage time. No one could begrudge Berinsfield their victory although 5-2 is harsh on a very good Courtenay side. Berinsfield will probably see this a recompense for their defeat in last year’s final. I doubt we’ll see them in next year’s somehow!

Here’s a parting shot. If anyone sees a game this good this weekend, then they’ll be extremely fortunate, it was a privilege to watch this game.