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Saturday 12th April 2014 ko 15.40

Notts Senior League Senior Division

KEYWORTH UNITED 3 (Clarke 4 51 Crawley 35)

SANDHURST 2 (Clarke 8 Bradford 45) Abbott sent off (2nd booking 37)

Att 372

Entry £3

Programme £1

Teamsheet 20p

Tea £1

Other than being the town where shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls was brought up, the pretty Nottinghamshire town is also where the British Geological Survey is based. I’m not sure whether their seismographs recorded the best part of 400 groundhoppers heading for the local football team, but Platt Lane was certainly busy! Even a Panda Car crawled along taking a disbelieving look at proceedings; I wish the club has tried to sell those inside a programme!

The ground is perfect for an ambitious county league team, with its spacious clubhouse, railed off pitch and recently installed floodlights. Should the club be successful and want promotion, there is certainly the potential here to build an impressive ground.

The clubhouse was a hive of activity with a line of pints waiting at the bar for organiser Rob Hornby, and merchandise being sold at a rate of knotts outside by the barbecue. That proved to be an excellent move freeing up the bar area inside. More people served equals more money made. In fact other than the running theme of inaccurate team sheets, my only real disappointment was Keyworth’s programme. Unlike many in the league, Keyworth do issue regularly, a simple card 4 page effort costing 50p, so charging £1 on the hop game for exactly the same design is disappointing. Was an extra 4 pages too much effort?

I enjoyed my burger and soon found a good vantage point, avoiding a hopper berating Rob for the terrible crime of the game kicking off a full minute early. He demanded to be removed from Rob’s database too, I’m sure in his little world people have been executed for lesser crimes! A thought, this person managed to watch football in North Korea, how did he get in and out alive?

I pointed my camera at the far goal spotting the railway line behind. A train does make for a good backdrop, but there didn’t seem too much traffic. Its a good thing the roots of British groundhopping lie in railwaymen taking full advantage of free travel on British Rail. Fortunately there are still plenty of the railwaymen-hoppers around so I have to Nantwich fan Andy Norbury to thank for pointing out that the line is in fact the Old Dalby test track.

It used to be part of the Midland Railway but on closure the section from Melton Mowbray to Edwalton, just to the south of Nottingham was retained as a test track. At various times its been used to test pantograph electric trains, Pendolino trains, and currently London Underground stock. Perhaps, most famously it was used, as the only high-speed test track in the country to test the APT, Advanced Passenger Train in the 1970’s. I remember having a 00 gauge version for my model railway, and the press remarking that the toy worked a good deal better than the real thing. I have my own theory on why, my version was made by Hornby…..

I suspect that for an opinion on the game a lot will depend on whether you believe that goals make games, certainly wally of the hop was Sandhurst’s Dan Abbott for collecting a pointless booking for dissent, then 2 minutes later another for a two-footed challenge. He may well have cost his teammates a point, maybe all three. The challenges flew in, and commitment was total but the game lacked that finesse to make it truly memorable.

Despite the off-pitch wally who’d slunk off to territories unknown, Rob was wearing a grin as the game wound down, he knew he had his trump card still to play….