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Saturday 16th November 2013 ko 13.30

Hertfordshire Senior Centenary Trophy 2nd Round

BELSTONE 3 (D Turner 64 90 N Turner 87)

BUSHEY SPORTS CLUB 2 (Shorto 14 Roche 33) Archer sent off (serious foul play) 36)

Att 60

Entry FREE

Programme £1

Just occasionally televised football does improve attendances! With Barnet FC at their new ground, The Hive for this season, and the game kicking off late at 5.30pm for television, any club local to North London was likely to see an influx of groundhoppers. We were indebted to well-respected hopper Stephen Jackson who liaised with the club so they were prepared for the larger-than-normal attendance. I hope the club had a decent pay-out for their efforts.

The main issue was actually working out where Belstone actually is! The Medburn Ground is to be found on Watling Street, in the countryside between Radlett and Elstree. It seemed impossible that I was a mere 6 miles north of Barnet’s new ground in Edgware.

I’d passed Aldernham House, the centrepoint of the sprawling Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School regularly voted one of the top public schools in the UK. Former pupils include Pink Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright, former Home Secretary Leon Brittain, travel writer Alan Whicker, former racing driver Damon Hill and comedians Sacha Baron Cohen and David Baddiel. It all seemed a world away from my world, especially of around 15 pitches situated around the outside of the estate, only one was marked for football.

Belstone’s roots are in Wembley, at the former GEC London Sports Ground. When that was sold off from beneath them for housing, they moved to Headstone Lane, Harrow, before spotting a derelict Medburn Ground. They leased the ground, did the place up, and built a new clubhouse, moving in during 1992. And what an excellent ground it is, fully railed with cover for around 50, in one of the prettier locations you’ll see.

Bushey Sports were formerly Met Police Bushey, they changed their name when the link with the constabulary ended, although they still use the Police Ground. This game was meant to have been played the previous week, but was postponed and the spike marks were obvious where the waterlogged pitch had been drained.

Two sides produced a wonderful exhibition of local football. The tackles flew in, the commitment was total. Belstone had the vast majority of the play early on so it was a massive surprise when Bushey twice scored on the break, through Ross Shorto and Michael Roche.  The turning point was undoubtedly the dismissal of Bushey’s Dale Archer with around 10 minutes left of the first half for a dreadful over-the-top challenge on Ross O’Flynn.

Bushey held fast for as long as they could, and even when Darren Turner pulled a goal back midway through the second half the away win still looked likely. But when Nick Turner headed home direct from a corner with 3 minutes left, Bushey’s heads dropped and there was Darren Turner to stab home for a satisfying win with just seconds left.

That pleased the hoppers no end, who’d been planning their pubs and chip shops to visit on the short drive over to the Hive. It was nothing if not convenient!