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Saturday 2nd August 2014 ko 17.00

Peterborough & District League Premier Division

NETHERTON UNTED 2 (Patton 42 Mastin 69)

THORNEY 1 (Baldwin 89)

Att 281

Entry £4

Programme £1

Badge £3

It has to be said The Grange turned into one of the more difficult places to find. That’s no reflection on the club, more a reflection on the speed of development in this part of Peterborough. I mean, how many clubs change entrances without moving grounds? I visited the ground back in 2012, and used one entrance, report here and the stream of traffic, not least Rick and the coach caused more than a few surprised looks as the best part of 300 people drove through the new estate.

I’d wondered how to sell a caged 3G pitch to the hopping fraternity, and after the deluge at Riverside I’d wondered whether I’d lose a few to the weather. Initially I thought the draw would be Netherton’s first game in the United Counties League. They were top of the PDFL for long periods last season, but ended up being beaten by Kings Lynn Reserves to the title. The Eastern Counties League were happy to take another reserve side at Step 6, and with PDFL rules preventing more than one club per season being promoted, poor Netherton missed out.

However the flirtation with the UCL did mean that a bus shelter-style stand was constructed, no shack out on the range here, raised to give good sightlines. That would have fulfilled entry requirements for the UCL with seats being added during their first year of membership.

If I ever have to sell football in a cage again, I’ll use Netherton as an example. They staged the game beautifully, and with no little charm, it was fine if you had the time. I’d had an email from their chairman Jack Seddon with regard to the GroundhopUK requirement that accurate line-ups be posted somewhere prominent. He asked me whether posting them on a wall via an overhead projector would do the job. I agreed, and while I’ll never expect another club to repeat the exercise it worked beautifully!

We’ve long asked clubs to be imaginative and coordinate their catering, who after all wants burger and chips at all 7 games?  We’d not seen chicken kebabs as a food option in 12 years organising groundhops and they sold extremely well. I did smile when one hopper laughed, ” That’s the first kebab I’ve ever bought sober” It set the scene for the early evening even though the rain was still falling, that shelter proved to be popular!

The game took time to spark into life, I blame the rain, and suspect many of the throng were relieved when Ed Patton’s header from a corner took a huge defection wrong footing Ben Derbyshire in the Thorney goal. The lead was doubled through Steve Mastin’s spectacular free kick although no one in the Thorney defence will look back on their actions with any satisfaction. Thorney deserved a goal, and were rewarded with Ash Baldwin’s tap-in after James Wilson in goal for Netherton could only parry the ball in his direction.

Netherton deserved the win, and they’d got their staging spot on, but I had a final responsibility to perform. During the week before the event we’d had an issue with their badges. Put simply, they’d come back from the manufacturer with “Netherton Footbal Club” on them, yes an “L” was missing! A fresh batch of (correct) badges was quickly made, and the plan was to destroy the misspelt ones. I managed to get those and sold quite a few on the coach, before handing over the money and the rest to the club as something of a collectors’ item! I’m not sure what they’ll do with the rest!