Tuesday 29th July 2014 ko 18.30
West Dean Charity League Intermediate Section
REDBROOK ROVERS 4 (14 37 55 66)
HUNTLEY 4 (1 42 59 77)
Each pre-season the clubs in the Forest of Dean in membership of the North Gloucestershire League have a cup competition instead of playing friendlies. Its separated into 3 sections, Senior, Intermediate, and Junior, on a divisional status. Its organised rather like the World Cup with a group stage followed by a knock-out phase, and I’m indebted to Gloucestershire non-league expert Tim Burgin fir supplying me with the details.
Apart from Chester, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game played so close to a national border. I approached Redbrook via the Forest of Dean, and crossed into Wales and back into England 300 yards from the ground with only the multilingual “ARAF/SLOW” signs painted on the road to tell me which country I was in. Once I was at the ground itself I was even closer to Wales than I thought. The Wye flows behind the ground which lies in a shallow meander, and a short walk over the footbridge gets you over the border once again.
The bridge is well worth the effort, if only to imagine the trains rumbling over it when the Wye Valley Railway still ran, perhaps carrying the millstones that were mined locally. That and the gorgeous Boat Inn in Penallt is well worth a pint to slow yourself down after an exciting game over the border!
It was one of those evenings when your decision not to plump for the obvious paid dividends. There is something wonderfully back to basics about watching the players head up the hill to the village hall to change, then play on a pitch whose narrow width is dictated by the Wye. It was by any measure an exciting game to watch, two well matched teams exchanging goals like boxers trading punches.
A draw was probably fair, the players seemed to think so at the end of it all, and I made my way home, retracing my way slowly back through the Forest of Dean towards Gloucester. The pace of life in this part of the world had rubbed off on me!