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26th July 2012 ko 7.30pm

Pre-Season Friendly

HMP WOODHILL 2 (24 60)


Att 16 (h/c)

Played at Tattenhoe Pavilion, Milton Keynes

Not so much a case of hearing the train a comin’, more driving to the correct location! HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes is a Category A prison, so that means prisoners would be those, and I quote, ..

“whose escape would be highly dangerous to the public or national security. Offences that may result in consideration for Category A or Restricted Status include: Murder, Attempted murder, Manslaughter, Wounding with intent, Rape, Indecent assault, Robbery or conspiracy to rob (with firearms), Firearms offences, Importing or supplying Class A controlled drug, Possessing or supplying explosives, Offences connected with terrorism and Offences under the Official Secrets Act.”

Or to put it more simply those who would have “shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.”

Unsurprising the game wasn’t within the walls of the prison, rather around 2 miles away at Tattenhoe Sports Pavilion. There’s a carpet floodlit pitch, with a wide playing field behind the pavilion itself, our game was played on a raised plateau to above and behind the artificial facility. There was a delay while a children’s team finished a training session and I used the time to chat to the two team managers.

This will be the only time I’ll probably see the HMP Woodhill team, no they’re not prisoners, they’re prison officers, but they normally play only in inter-prison competitions. Resplendent in their “Oxford United of about 2 years ago” kit, they had a steely glint in the eye borne from looking after some of the most dangerous men in the country. No coffee and big cigars amongst these men. They requested that I not report their names, and they checked amongst themselves that I could take their pictures. It took no great imagination to understand why!

The visitors ply their trade in the Bedfordshire League Division 4 , and were playing this game because the Woodhill manager used to play for them. They were a happy bunch even featuring a Lemmy look-a-like! I sat on a grass bank with James Rennie and Chris Garner, who’d found me this game, and we chatted away while the game meandered away in front of us.

It was clear that the guards were the stronger team, and the discipline involved in their job was clear. They took a two-goal lead and it was only after half time, when a fair percentage of the team were replaced (evening shift?) and the replacements were nowhere near as impressive. Kempston discovered the guards high defensive line, and beat it three times, scoring once. They didn’t deserve the win, or even the draw, but it did give them something positive from the game.

For me it was simply a case of an enjoyable evening in good company and an unusual fixture.