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Tuesday 20th May 2014 ko 18.30

Coventry Alliance Premier Division


THE BELL (AEI) RUGBY 7 (Smith 29 34p 59 Charlton 64 67 Vince 67p Linton 86)

Att 81 at Shilton FC

Entry FREE

No Programme

Quite honestly I’d watch a lot more of this league if fixtures were easier to come by. There’s the excellent Football Traveller, but the league’s website hasn’t been updated in years, and there’s no Mitoo, or Fulltime fixtures site that I could make work. For the casual supporter you rely on internet forums, word of mouth, and the local press. Hopefully no one turned up at Woodlands’ home in Bedworth, long since surrendered to the cricket for the summer.

This game was switched to the other side of the M6, to Shilton playing fields. The side playing here may well have been relegated from Division One of this competition but the pitch was immaculate. Shilton is another in the line of pretty villages I seem to frequent with St Andrew’s Church casting a benevolent eye on proceedings, even if the West Coast Mainline cuts the village in half with a roar, blasting through a station sacrificed to Dr Beeching.

With the away team having such an unusual name, I wondered if all the hoppers knew its derivation. The club play 3 miles from Rugby, in Dunchurch after General Electic bought out Allied Electrical Industries (AEI) and closed down both the factory and the sports ground. Not to be beaten the club decamped down the road, and based themselves at their favourite boozer in the village. Nominally the Coventry feeds into the Midland Combination, and there’s has been promotion in the recent past, the likes of Alvis taking the leap in 2011.

The game’s importance was simple, The Bell needed a win to guarantee the title, anything less and all eyes would be on Whitnash playing simultaneously. The league provided assistants to the referee, and whilst they were useful in a game that occasionally saw tension spill over to anger, at no point did The Bell look like doing anything like winning, and winning well.

Undoubtedly man-of-match was Jimmy Smith whose hat trick put the game well beyond Woodlands’ reach. Time after time he exploited a high defensive line with no pace, and when he departed his season’s total, an astounding 39 goals, his teammates simply carried on where he left off. Substitute Dildale Linton’s winner, running through the entire defence before finishing with a deft “Panenka” chip was a worthy way to seal a championship.

The last word on the game, however did go to Woodlands’ Carl Lewis. In stoppage time, a heavy challenge saw a brief contretemps and The Bell manager commented that the game was over anyway so he should just blow the final whistle. Lewis’ comment, “No chance, I reckon we’ve got a goal in us,” was priceless but unproven as the whistle was blown a few seconds later!

The Bell’s celebrations were heartfelt, and it was a shame that the league weren’t able to be there to present the trophy, after all the destination had been obvious for well over an hour. In the final analysis it won’t matter, The Bell looked a good side, a cut above their level, and it will be interesting to see how they progress, if I can find their fixtures next season!