Monday 29th April 2013 ko 18.15
Witney & District League Premier Division
HANBOROUGH FC 3 (Haggle 56p 90 Lewis 59)
WEST WITNEY 2 (Sparkes 22 Lewis 73)
Nothing for sale
If you drive along the A4095 from Witney to Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, you do pass though some beautiful countryside. From North Leigh (pronounced locally as “Nor Lye”) and the spectacular Eynsham Hall, through Freeland, then its on through Long Hanborough, and Bladon to Woodstock.
Long Hanborough is aptly named, being an example of ribbon development along the main road. The only exceptions are along the roads out to the Blenheim sawmills at Combe, and the road out to Church Hanborough. You can see the spire at that village in a couple of the pictures.
The Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway was built past Long Hanborough in 1852, with Hanborough station between Long Hanborough and Bladon being opened to serve the village. The station is best known for being where on 30th January 1965 the body of Sir Winston Churchill arrived at on a train hauled by Battle of Britain Class locomotive Winston Churchill. From there the funeral cortege proceeded by road to Bladon Parish Church, where he was buried.
The problem with the station was devilishly simple though, it was misspelt! From opening to 1993 the station was known as Handborough even though the spelling had long since been standardised!
In more recent times the village has been a byword for quiet affluence, its close proximity to Oxford and the major commuter routes pushing up house prices. Former Neighbours and Spooks actor Craig McLachlan used to live here.
The mathematics of my game at the end of Roosevelt Road was straightforward, West Witney needed draw to take the championship. I don’t know why I don’t watch more of this league, its well run and its website is painstaking maintained. It nominally is a feeder to the Oxon Senior League, which again nominally leads to the Hellenic League, but the practicalities mean little or no transfers take place.
West Witney are well used to winning this league, and warming up they looked confident so it was no surprise when Ian Sparkes fired them into the lead. I thought that would open up the floodgates instead as time wore on they got more and more nervous. Hanborough began to exploit a weakness on the right channel, but Dan Haggle’s penalty following Shaun Rayfield’s poor challenge still saw the visitors with one hand on the trophy.
That changed when Tom Lewis put Hanborough into the lead soon afterwards, but the shock galvanised West Witney, and another Lewis, this one named Kevin equalised with the goal of the game, a fine 20 yard drive. Time to breath more easily? Not a bit of it as the nerves once again frayed as the clock wound down. Jokes were nervously told, substitutes paced and a dog looked nervous.
There was just enough stoppage time for Hanborough to float one more free kick into the 6 yard box. Keeper Kev Trethowan came for it but his weak punch went straight to Haggle whose header went back over Trethowan’s head, and with time almost standing still, gently dropped into the net.
There was no time for a second equaliser, but West Witney will have a chance of salvation next Tuesday evening at home to Charlbury. I wouldn’t bet against them!