Monday 2nd July 2012 ko 7.30pm
The Summer Football League
RED LION 3 (Blackburn 38 Smith 51 Mosedale 68)
Att 19 (h/c)
Nothing for sale
There are of course no lack of summer football leagues in the British Isles. Football is a summer activity these days in the Republic of Ireland, and there are no lack of summer “Welfare” leagues in the north of Scotland. In England and Wales, they’re far more unusual, with amongst others the Llandyrnog, and Catforth leagues together with the Tunbridge Wells Veterans League.
The Summer Football League tends to get referred to as the Derby Summer League by groundhoppers, but is actually based around the North Derbyshire town of Ashbourne, famous for its Shrove Tuesday “Football” match. The league isn’t affiliated to the Football Association, and there’s a rule that precludes players who play in winter football taking part. The league started in 1930 as an agricultural league, with kick offs timed around the needs of farming. Even today, the league retains a rural feel, with minimal facilities, and each team having a base at a local pub. Games are over 80 minutes, except for the cup competitions where the full 90 minutes are played.
Red Lion are based at the David Naylor Transport Ground in the tiny village of Mammerton, near Longford. Last season they played as Ostrich, in Longford, but moved for this season, swayed by a pitch for free and uncertainty over a change of landlord at the Ostrich pub. Its basic, a pitch where a field could be, but for a league where changing rooms are deemed unnecessary, it suits the team well.
The opposition was Ashbourne-based Wheel, who I once saw in their previous incarnation as Wheel Inn lose 19-0 at home to Bradley, one of the leading lights of the league. Time hasn’t seen much change to Wheel’s fortunes, at kick off rock bottom of the table with just one draw to show for their efforts. With Red Lion a place above them also with just a point, there was little chance of a high quality game.
In fact the game greatly exceeded expectations, even though Wheel played with just 10 men throughout. In the drizzle, Red Lion had most of the possession, but it took until near to half time for them to force home the advantage, Anthony Blackburn shooting low into the left corner from 10 yards out. Wheel showed great spirit, and in Sean Jones a goalkeeper capable of excellence. His save in the dying embers of the half was worthy of a far more lofty stage.
As the second half wore on, and Red Lion made use of their bench Wheel noticeably tired. Red Lion’s left winger Lee Mosedale, a contender with Jones for man-of-the-match, found the key to Wheel’s defence, a quick “Give-and-go” with central midfield then cut across the right-back. It set up Chris Smith for the second, and Mosedale himself fired home for the third.
A deserved win for Red Lion, but Wheel fought well enough to suggest that with luck and a full complement of players, better fortunes lie ahead.