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Friday 4th May 2012 ko 6.45pm

Cambridgeshire County League

LINTON GRANTA 7 (A Palmer 7 30 Greathead 23 Elston 73 Stanley 76 82 84)

NEWMARKET TOWN RESERVES 1 (Williams 90)

Att 90 (h/c)

Entry FREE

Programme £1

The idea for this extravaganza was Wavendon-based Chris Garner’s. He pointed out that a sharp exit from work in Banbury at 4.30 meant I could pick him up in Milton Keynes at 5.30. That gave us 75 minutes to knock off 50-or-so miles to Linton, the wrong side of Cambridge, simple? Not on a Friday, and the Black Cat (roundabout on the A1) wasn’t so lucky on this occasion. Still we only missed a minute or two, and what a great tick to get, and Len Spierenburg and Don Scott filled in the gaps.

The village lies on the southern edge of the county, and is best known for its zoo. There’s also a Festival each May Bank Holiday, with participants dressed in comedy costumes racing down the High Street, stopping in all the pubs for a pint, and then racing through the fields next to the village and back down the High Street.

The ground lies at the bottom of Meadow Lane, the kind of narrow road, that makes you ask yourself “Is there really a ground here,” until you find the place! It’s a fairly basic affair, roped off with no cover, but there are some clever touches if you look carefully. I liked the marking out of the “Kop” behind a park bench with each fan’s initials marked out in boxes where they stand! I can’t judge the clubhouse as it was being used for a young lady’s 21st birthday. The party frocks looked a little incongruous when set against a local football match! The ground lies on the banks of the river Granta, giving the club its name and the substitutes a regular dash to retrieve the ball.

The Cambridgeshire League is HUGE! I think there are 7 divisions, but I don’t know of any hopper that’s managed to complete it. We laughed that there’s a rumour that there’s a Division 15 3/4 but no-one talks about it! This game was easy to contextualize. Top division, top side, already champions up against the side rock bottom. Also, a side scoring plenty of goals, against an obviously poor defence. A “Fudge” as one hopper I know would put it, or going to a game on the expectation of improving your goal average!

A so it came to pass, although not as I’d expected. Newmarket weren’t as bad as the scoreline would suggest. They hit the crossbar in the first and last minutes, had on effort well saved by Colin Morrice, and another span wide. All the time thereafter it was Linton pressure and the drip-drip of goals. That drip turned in to a flood as Newmarket tired after 70 minutes, and despite having named 4 substitutes used only one. Luke Stanley collected an 8-minute hat trick as Newmarket’s defence collapsed. 7-0 was extremely harsh so when Tom Williams followed up on a rebound with virtually the last kick of the game I felt it was reward for their part in a highly entertaining game.