Aaron Clarke, Coal tax posts, Colney Heath, groundhopping, Hadley, League, Matt Thompson, Paul Armstrong, Recreation Ground, Spartan South Midlands
Tuesday 30th October 2012 ko 19.45
Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
COLNEY HEATH 3 (Thompson 10 Clarke 69 Armstrong 82)
Entry & Programme £6
Cheese & Onion Roll £1.40
Anyone who’s travelled around the northern curve of the M25 will have been within a mile of the Recreation Ground, and this pretty village would be fairly unremarkable but for one historical detail.
The first essay I was asked to write at university in London, was seemingly simple – define London’s boundaries. You could use famous square mile of the city, or perhaps the man-made moat of the M25. I think I plumped for the M25, an imperfect solution, but I couldn’t think of a better boundary, but the discussion made for an interesting lecture slot when our marked papers were returned!
There was in fact another boundary, still further out and these are the coal posts, used to mark where a tax on coal entering London would be levied. The series of around 280, all from 12 to 18 miles out, were of various types, but formed an irregular loop around the capital from medieval times to the tax’s abolition in 1890. The remarkable thing about Colney Heath is that there were 4 posts for the village alone, and all are still standing, the one I’ve photographed is on the small green opposite the “Cock” Pub. It must have been an important point on the route into the capital, from the north.
The Recreation Ground is a classic example of a ground being adapted to suite grading requirements. I would imagine that in the past cricket was played, but now the extra space is used as a training pitch. Floodlights have been added, and the clubhouse roof extended forward to keep the requisite 50 or so seats from getting wet. The clubhouse, large and warm was the best facility, and plenty there desisted from watching this game, but who can blame them when Reading 5 Arsenal 7 is being televised in the warm?
Out in the cold, this was a game that entertained without ever catching fire. The script suggested that Hadley would steal a point, despite Colney Heath having by far the greater possession and taking the lead early on through Matt Thompson. As ever the script wasn’t followed, but it took Aaron Clarke’s goal was late as the 69th minute to put the tie beyond doubt. Paul Armstrong’s tap in afterwards was mere icing on the cake.
As I left, my friend James commented that I couldn’t have many clubs in this league left to do. I really hadn’t thought about it, but when I checked this morning he was correct. Just 4 grounds without lights in the bottom division. Knowing me, I’ll end up completing those without realising, such is life!!