Adrian Whitmore, Central Midlands League, Franz Xaver Graf von Werra, Guy Wilding, Highfield Road, home-made club mugs, John Balfour, Leicestershire Senior League Division One, midlands regional alliance, Newhall United, Penalty, Richard Jeffery, Steve Cook, Swanwick Pentrich Road, The one that got away
Saturday 18th August 2012 ko 3.00pm
Midlands Regional Alliance Premier Division
SWANWICK PENTRICH ROAD 5 (Wilding 62 71 A Whitmore 64 86 Jeffery 78) Jeffery missed penalty 45
NEWHALL UNITED 1 (Balfour 29p)
Att 13 (h/c)
Tea in a mug 70p
I have to say that this charming little club does have a rather particular name. Consider if you will the small Derbyshire village of Swanwick. It’s a former pit village near Alfreton, and is best known for the German flying ace Franz Xaver Graf von Werra, who escaped from the Swanwick Hayes POW camp in December 1940. He reached RAF Hucknall and was recaptured after trying to steal an aircraft in the guise of a Dutch airman. He finally did escape later in the war, and his exploits are immortalised in the flim “The one that got away.”
But let’s look at that name again, to the best of my knowledge there’s no other team in Swanwick so why have a name that’s so specific? Still, it does give the team a memorable quirk! Not that Highfield Road lacks quirks. Set as it is down a narrow lane, off of (yes) the Pentrich Road the ground reflects the club’s past participation in the Central Midlands League, and the facilties that league demands. There’s both cover and seating, and the ground is fully enclosed. That didn’t stop two youths watching the game from behind a fence, even though there was no entry fee!
With the opposition being Newhall, that meant one thing to me, Dan Bishop. Dan’s General Manager at Newhall, and is the proud winner of last season’s award for top programme for the Leicestershire Senior League Division One, and is hell-bent on winning for a new league with Newhall having switched for this season. Dan invited me to do this game, and we decamped to the tea bar for a chat. Dan’s just completed a 15 mile hike from Newhall to Allenton (Newhall’s first game of the season) for the British Heart Foundation, and we compared notes on sore feet (for me the 2003 New York Marathon) whilst enjoying a brew in one of Swanwick’s home-made club mugs! I complimented the club on a wonderful piece of ingenuity, and they promptly presented me with the mug!
The game was more or less as I expected. The MRA isn’t a particularly strong league and Newhall haven’t had the best of fortunes over the last few years. I’d hoped for a good result for Dan, and when the referee gave Newhall a penalty after failing to give a far more blatent one to Swanwich a minute or two earlier, I began to think I was seeing the start of a renaissance. That feeling was heightened when referee Steve Cook, in a pretty vacant moment gave Swanwick their own penalty on the stroke of half time, which they promptly missed. It looked like an obvious case of trying to even the decisions up, but if he’d have seen the future he needn’t have bothered.
Because with an hour gone Newhall collapsed in spectacular fashion. Subsitute Guy Wilding started it all, pouncing on a static defence, before Adrian Whitmore collected a brace in at times farcical fashion, collecting a stray back-pass to shoot home unopposed, and for his last goal, the keeper diving for the shot almost as an afterthought. Richard Jeffery headed home direct from a corner, but the Newhall defence spent their time arguing whether the ball was over the line, it was, instead of asking why the big centre half hadn’t been marked! Much to consider for Newhall in the coming days, and I wish these two friendly clubs all the best for the coming season.