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Tuesday 14th January 2014 ko 19.45

Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup Quarter-Final

WISBECH TOWN 1 (White 45)


Att 101

Entry £5

Programme FREE

Sausage & Chips £1.50

Tea £1

It’s odd how everything changes at Peterborough. The lands flatten and for the most part the roads become single carriageway. You’re now in East Anglia, this is arable country, and a lot of it reclaimed land at that.

The town’s castle was a notorious prison in Tudor and Stuart times, a faraway place for monarchs to make enemies, particularly Catholics, disappear. Robert Catesby and Francis Tresham were held at Wisbech after the 1601 Essex Rebellion.  Later they were to become the principal conspirators in the ‘Gunpowder Plot’ in 1605. Catesby by the standards of the time was fortunate, being shot dead in Holbeach after a stand-off with government forces. Tresham was imprisoned in the Tower of London, but died of a bladder infection before he could be tried and certainly hanged, drawn and quartered. His early demise didn’t stop the authorities placing his head on a pike alongside Catesby’s in Northampton.

It’s easy to remember my visit to Wisbech’s former home at Fenland Park. I remember the date vividly, 2nd April 2005, if for no other reason that it was the day Pope John Paul II died, and I watched the Fenmen beat Stowmarket 2-1 in an Eastern Counties League tie. I’ll never forget the ground, with the clubhouse behind the goal, and the huge Dutch barn to one side. It was an East Anglian gem, and sadly the club sold it for housing to ease financial problems. It still stands, albeit not for much longer even though the club left in 2008. They groundshared for a two years at Outwell Swifts, improving their ground in the process. The new Fenland Stadium opened on 14th August 2010, Wisbech beating St Andrews 5-0 in an FA Cup extra-preliminary round tie.

Whilst the new ground doesn’t have the character of the old, what new-build could, it does all that the club needs it to, and if it isn’t already up to Step 4 gradings then any improvements would be minimal. I was impressed by the full cover behind both goals, but what the ground lacks is a signature stand, there’s just the two prefabs that travelled with the club from Outwell. Perhaps that will change as the club progresses. One question I have though is this, which county is the ground in, its right on the Norfolk/Cambridgeshire border!?

With the club having transferred from the Eastern Counties League to the UCL for this season this fixture was a hark back to previous opponents. CRC, or put another way, Cambridge United’s scholars, play in the ECL Premier. That connection with another club is sufficient for many hoppers to refuse to watch them, and I would have been unable to have this fixture or similar on any hop I organise. Fortunately, with so much postponed due to the flooding, my rules are far more lax, perhaps non-existent!

The game was much as I expected, youthful talent and sharp passing on a difficult surface, against the nous and experience of the hosts. The other factor could have been Wisbech’s draw in the FA Vase, they’re away to Northern League Ashington, and with that league’s domination of the competition they’re expecting a tough challenge this coming Saturday.

They put out a full-strength side for this one but found the visitors that little bit too sharp. Elliot Hogan fired CRC into the lead only for Wisbech to equalise through Danny White with the last kick of the half. With the rain coming down the second half could easily have become as bogged down as the pitch was becoming. Just as that looked as if is was becoming the case, I noticed people’s eyes moving to an area above and beyond the near goal. It certainly was odd, a group of red and green lights moved both horizontally and vertically, but as Mulder and Scully were on speed-dial, a club official reassured the crowd. It was a toy helicopter, a local enthusiast uses the car park to practise his skills!

With that little mystery solved there remained the possibility of extra time. The game was good, it was worthy of the extra half hour but with a two-and-a-half hour run home, I was more than happy to see Liam Hurst stab home 3 minutes from time to win it for the visitors! From there I wended my way slowly home through the rain, noting all the villages on the way with either UCL or Peterborough & District League sides; after all you cannot plan too much!