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Tuesday 15th January 2013 ko 19.45

Hellenic League Division One West

BRIMSCOMBE & THRUPP 1 (A Snook 90)

CARTERTON FC 0

Att 55

Entry & Programme £4

Tea £1

If you have to finish a league’s grounds, then I think you should do it on a good one, and I think its fair to say that The Meadow in Brimscombe is exceptional. In groundhopping terminology the visit that completes a league, is referred to as a “Champagne Job,” and so far I’ve tried to avoid them. I like to have a range of footballing options open to me! In fact, the only other League I’ve ever completed is the Football League and Premier League’s 92 clubs.

Brimscombe and its conjoined twin village of Thrupp lie in the Frome valley, near Stroud. There’s a slightly unworldly feel to the place with its narrow twisting streets, and the single track railway line above the ground’s location on the main road to Cirencester. A steady succession of local trains, slid through the frosty night sky giving an almost ghostly feel to the proceedings.

Brimscombe’s roots lie in mills, most notably for for the cloth making industry, before in the 1820’s the Ferebees converted one to an iron works, seeing the potential of a site with excellent canal links. It was at the Phoenix ironworks that an employee Edward Beard Budding converted a cloth cutting blade with the help of gears and a horizontal shaft, and invented the lawn mower!

Brimscombe Port became an important hub of the Thames and Severn canals, and many paddle steamers were designed and built here by Abdela & Mitchell. Probably the most famous of these was the “Queen of Africa,” which starred in the 1951 John Huston film “The African Queen.” There’s still no lack of small industrial units dotted over the valley, and that’s how I first found the football ground many years ago. I was advising small businesses for a bank, and had just finished visiting a customer’s premises. The ground was closed, but I caught a glimpse through a gap in the locked gate, and made a mental note to visit.

I’m no longer a bank employee, and Brimscombe and Thrupp have made great strides since then, being promoted twice to find themselves at the highest level in their history. Floodlights were erected last season, and the clubhouse extended. Sadly the need for more seats will mean that the wonderful wood and corrugated iron stand will be demolished, in favour of a compliant, but boring modular affair. More than anything else though, my abiding memory of the club will be just how welcoming the club were to their visitor with the clipboard, even offering me a cup of tea, and refusing to take payment for it. I made sure I bought my half time coffee, and one for pal Karl too.

What makes the place is the huge grass banks on two sides, as the ground is on one side of the valley, and the frosty mist in the valley gave the game an ethereal feel. I had a happy time simply taking in the views and taking far too many pictures. It helped that I have a soft spot for Carterton as their manager Martin Wilkinson helped me to see his team’s pre-season friendly at RAF Brize Norton earlier in the season for a highly unusual tick.

https://laurencereade.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/procedure/

Fortunately the pitch didn’t freeze, and for 89 minutes the teams produced the most exciting 0-0 draw you could imagine. Goalkeepers Adam Thomas, and Mike Hedges produced a string of exceptional saves, including one from Thomas that looked to defy the laws of gravity! As the game wore on and the pitch began to harden, Brimscombe began to dominate and a mixture of Hedges’ brilliant and some over-elaboration in front of goal kept the score goal-less. In fact I’d started moving towards my car when one last attack saw Adam Snook fire high into the net to take all the points for my gallant, friendly hosts. A little harsh on Carterton, but I expect both sides to be challenging for promotion at the end of the season. They deserve nothing less.