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Saturday 2nd August 2014 ko 11.00

United Counties League Premier Division

YAXLEY 3 (Coleman 31 Cotton 43p 76)

LONG BUCKBY 1 (Hailstone 90og)

Att 206

Entry £6

Programme £1

Badge £3

The coach, expertly coaxed by Rick at the wheel made the tight left turn into Leading Drove, and down the narrow drive to the football ground on the left. There’s a pitch to the right, used by Stilton FC, and since they play in the Peterborough & District League the original idea was to have a game there straight after this one, but they turned us at GroundhopUK down for reasons unknown, and with league official Daniel Leggett being an expert on the geography of the PDFL, he approached Riverside in their place, but that is another article!

I have long since concluded that my job at GroundhopUK is to help organise hops to places I’ve been before and my abiding memory of Leading Drove is walking on manhole covers as they provide much of the hard standing here. The club are justifiably proud of their clubhouse, with its offices and hospitality areas upstairs, and the view from the sponsors-only scaffold is superb. It was a privilege to be able to speak to the officials of both clubs, and to thank Long Buckby for making not a short journey for an early kick-off. That spirit of cooperation is one we love to see and its fair to say that Long Buckby are very much in our thoughts for the future.

The scaffold was handy for us, providing shelter from a shower as we set up the tables for programme pack distribution and sales of Welsh and North Berks hop tickets. It was very much the day for groundhop organisers, Beds hop organiser Craig Dabbs had his tickets ready so we found him a table and chair so he could sell easily, and Notts hop organiser Rob Hornby had his charity programme stall in place by the pay booth. When Northern hop organiser Harvey Harris turned up for a chat, and talk about the Scottish hop next March, I suspect it was the most groundhop organisers that have ever been in the same place at the same time! If only Phil Hiscox (South West Peninsula) hadn’t have been at Fareham, and Tony Incenzo (Middlesex) at QPR we’d have had the full set!

As was the case at Deeping the club worked its socks off to look after their large crowd. Many enjoyed the huge breakfast rolls, others the beer! The atmosphere was relaxed as those who hadn’t made it to Deeping caught up with each other, and we were pleased to see the volume of sales for the forthcoming Welsh and North Berkshire hops.

The game saw the hosts dominate and 3-0 would have been a fair result. The goal that will be remembered is the visitors’ consolation. A kick from Long Buckby keeper James Broadbent bounced once and Rick Hailstone looked to have the simplest of tasks to nod the ball back to his keeper Aaron Butcher. However Butcher had dashed off his line so Hailstone’s header simply looped over the horrified keeper and into the empty net. I suspect the discussions as to who was buying who a pint afterwards were both lengthy and heated.

Chris Berezai and I grinned before thanking our hosts before heading back to Rick and the coach. We wanted to be back quickly because although the journey to Riverside wasn’t a lengthy one, around a mile, it was a journey into the unknown to some extent.