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Tuesday 4th September 2012 ko 6.30pm

Stroud & District Charity Cup- Section A

CHALFORD 0

HARDWICKE 3 (Mitcher 44og Hine 48 Hill 60)

80 minute game

Att 17 (h/c)

Entry FREE

Nothing for sale

Another one of those hard to reach in time games, near to Stroud! This time I found myself about 4 miles east of the town, or to be more exact 4 miles east and a few hundred metres ABOVE Stroud! You leave the A419 from Cirencester just before Brimscombe and travel along narrow winding streets, climbing all the time. The villages seen to have been built exclusively of Cotswold stone, and there’s a feeling that time has been forgotten here. Given the idyllic nature of the place its hardly surprising that the area has history of arts and crafts. The settling of displaced Flemish Huguenot weavers in the 17th and 18th centuries brought quality silk and woollen cloth manufacturing to the valley, and today artist Damien Hirst has a studio in the village. During the Second World War boxer Henry Cooper was evacuated here.

At the top of the hill lies the Sports and Social Club, and with Chalford playing in the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of facilities. How wrong I was, as there’s a stand bisecting the dugouts, and a large social club. On a warm night the cover wasn’t needed and it was simply a case of relaxing and watching two decent teams.

The Stroud Charity Cup is split into several sections, according to the playing status. Section A is for GNSL or equivalent status, but there are 5 other sections, leading to 5 different trophies.

I should also point out that the away team are the Hardwicke of Hellenic hop infamy. For those who weren’t there, they were the away team at a groundhop game at Lydney Town in 2008 . The pitch was flooded, but was mopped to enough for the referee to allow the game to start. The water soon returned and the correct decision was eventually made to abandon the game. That was well after a foul-mouthed tirade from the Hardwicke manager at groundhoppers in general, that was utterly uncalled for, and left a sour taste in the mouths of all present. Hardwicke won the division that season but when unable to take promotion due to ground grading issues, the manager and team departed, and the club dropped into the Stroud & District League. They’re now back in the GNSL, but here’s Peter Leavis’ footage of that game!

It became clear immediately that the Hardwicke of today are an incredibly friendly bunch, and were happy enough to answer the questions I asked, I for one will make a point of visiting them is the future.

Chalford were very second best on this occasion, and once Sam Mitcher turned a low cross from the left past his own keeper, Hardwicke didn’t look back. Rob Hine slammed in the second direct from a corner, and Sam Hill’s beautifully directed lob-header rounded off the scoring.

All in all a highly satisfying evening out. Next time I’m in the area I will get there earlier and photograph the village, and visit some of the galleries. Its a place worth more time than the 2 hours I spent there.