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Saturday 27th October 2012 ko 14.30

Anglian Combination Premier Division

CROMER TOWN 6 (Wilton 12 33 90 Matthews 33 84 Eves 45)

NORTH WALSHAM TOWN 2 (Jolly 68 Skipper 83)

Att 52 (h/c)

Entry £2

Programme £1

Tea 50p

Pie £1

It’s a shame this part of North Norfolk takes such a long time to get to from Oxford, as there’s so much to enjoy here. Cromer is a good example of this, with its narrow streets and quaint shops and yes, there are still many opportunities to buy the locally caught crabs; £2 each looked a real bargain! I took a walk along the wind-swept pier, and there was a gang of workmen carrying out repairs, while a hardy soul fished from the pier end, but I wanted to see what was at the near end.

Captain Henry Blogg is reckoned by many to be the greatest lifeboatman that ever lived, winning the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s Gold medal 3 times, the Silver medal 4 times, together with the George Cross and the British Empire medal. One rescue involved the saving of 15 men over a 24 hour period from the wreck of the Swedish vessel “Fernebo,” Blogg and his crew rowing the Cromer Lifeboat by searchlight in quite appalling sea conditions. His memorial has a compass as its centrepiece and ribbons point to each of his rescues with details inscribed. Consider also that then, as is the case now, the lifeboatman are volunteers, amazing people.

Blogg’s heroics notwithstanding, my reason to be in Cromer was a visit to Cabbell Park to watch the local football team. Not that the back story is any less astounding than Blogg’s! The ground is named after Evelyn Bond-Cabbell who granted the club a lease on the ground in 1922. However, unknown to the club was a clause that the land would revert to the people of Cromer 21 years after the death of King Edward VII’s last grandchild. That was King Olav V of Norway, ironically a keen sportsman, who died in 1991, making the club’s position somewhat precarious. Negotiations are ongoing with Bond-Cabbell’s heir, Benjamin Cabbell-Manners who is keen to see the ground used for more general sporting use, but the latest news is that after spending £3000 on legal advice the club believe the last grandchild was George Lascelles, the 7th Earl of Harewood. The only sticking point here, is that he was “In Utero,” when the lease was signed!

On arrival what struck me was that there isn’t much room for anything other than a football pitch. The space is perfect for a floodlit non-league ground for a reasonably ambitious club but no more. There’s a gravel car park, a clubhouse, and a small covered area, and while there’s room for all of this to be expanded, it would be impossible to add additional sports.

The other thing I noticed was just how central to the community the club is. From the multiplicity of businesses advertising in the programme, to the wide cross-section of people who turned up to cheer their team on, this was very much an effort made by the entire town.

They had much to cheer as well, with The Crabs making short work of their near-neighbours struggling at the bottom of the division. Dale Wilton danced through the defence to open the scoring and was immediately booking for a rather unsporting celebration. It proved to be the only booking of the day, and once Cromer had scored twice in a minute, there was little prospect of a North Walsham revival.

Perhaps predictably Cromer eased off during the second half, and their visitors grabbed two late goals, but that served only to rouse the Crabs, who promptly nipped back with two more goals with Wilton collecting his hat trick with virtually the last kick of the game. This was a high quality encounter, utterly belying the clubs’s status 7 promotions from the supposed promised land of the Football League, but then when you’re this far from the rat race, you can work on your passion with little in the way of disturbance. Unless of course, your name is Henry Blogg!