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Thursday 4th July 2013 ko 19.40

Pre-Season Friendly

PRIORS MARSTON 0

SOUTHAM UNITED 7 (Delahunty 30 Tennant 40 65p 74 Doherty 53 Stephans 78 79)

Att 42

80 minute game

Entry FREE

Programme- No ( you are joking!)

Priors Marston is one of those pretty-as-a-picture villages tucked away so you just have to stumble across them! The village is just about in Warwickshire, around 7 miles from Daventry, and is close to the Northamptonshire border.

The Church of England parish church is dedicated to Saint Leonard and was first built in the 13th century. The tower dates from the 17th and 18th centuries, but the building you see today was largely rebuilt in 1863.

The village school, The Priors School was originally a state school opened in 1847. In August 1996 it was forced to close due to a decline in numbers but after a month of intensive fundraising and planning the school re-opened. It still offered free education to village residents, and also accepted fee paying pupils from further afield. The school raised over £1.2m during 15 years of self regulation until September 2011, when it became one of the first of 22 new free schools to open in the UK. This returned the school to state funding but independently managed.

The Priors Sports Field lies on the edge of the village, on the Byfield Road. There’s a tennis club, but the place is by and large a cricket field that stages football in the winter. In the last few years that’s been even more the case as the Saturday football team withdrew from the Banbury and Lord Jersey League and now only play Sunday football, in the depths of Division 5 of the Leamington and District Sunday League.

With a team so obscure, the fixture attracted a gaggle of hoppers, who 10 minutes before the scheduled 7.00 kick-off looked nervous, especially the one who’d travelled all the way from Leatherhead for this game. Eventually the home players arrived in dribs and drabs, with the lack of urgency that the warm weather seemed to inspire. It didn’t seem to worry the referee, he just had a chat to the Southam players and warmed up lackadaisically.

I took time to explore the pavilion, taking care to avoid the ladies preparing a barbeque for the players. They’d been banned from serving food before half-time, but when was half-time going to be? I discovered that there are plans to demolish the pavilion and replace it with an altogether grander affair. The issue is a common enough one, funding. I have a feeling the old pavilion will be around for a while longer.

The game kicked-off a staggering 40 minutes late, and unsurprising both sides made a slow start, a mixture of legs getting used to playing, and the visitors playing what appeared to their under-18 side. In a truncated game it took a full 30 minutes for the first goal, Jamie Delahunty firing home, and after that the Midland Combination side passed their hosts to death, and the goals came steadily throughout the rest of the game. Ben Tennant scored a hat-trick from the unlikely position of left back, and quite a hat-trick it was! The first was a blast from long distance, the second a penalty, and the third a delicious curling free kick that did just enough to evade the keeper’s despairing outstretched fingers. Goals from Keiran Doherty and a late brace from Robbie Stephans sealed the straightforward victory.

In the final analysis, of course it really doesn’t matter, but the players got a little fitter, the managements learned a little more and the spectators enjoyed a pleasant evening out in the sunshine.