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Saturday 2nd August 2014 ko 19.45

United Counties League Division One



Att 283

Entry £4

Programme £1

Badge £3

Mug £5

I do like to see a hop visit its genesis. I deliberately started the very first North Berkshire hop at the geographical centre of the league, Steventon Green, and since my first meeting with the United Counties League was here at the start of last season, report and club history here, it seemed only fitting that they feature on the first UCL/PDFL hop.

They are, of course the club that more or less built their ground from scratch in 6 weeks to be allowed in the UCL, and the clubhouse and bar remains outside of the club’s jurisdiction. It was hosting a wedding reception, and as sat outside the ground, eating some of the club’s delicious chicken and chips, I watched a steady succession of young wedding guests in all their finery come outside to smoke, and gaze slack-jawed at 250-plus damp hoppers heading for the pay booth.

There was, however more entertainment outside the ground. I was sat with Norwegian hopper Ari, who was having a conversation with a local who was more than slightly sozzled. I signalled to Ari to switch to Norwegian to see if the chap would notice, he didn’t…

I greatly enjoyed The Turbines staging of the game. The girls in the merchandise shed did a roaring trade by just been engaging, and tired hoppers, many on their fourth game of the day notably relaxed, with smiles on their faces. Stories were exchanged, mine involved a well-known hopper with unusual dress-sense being chased across a field in West Wales whilst the hop organiser was trying not to look horrified whilst being interviewed for S4C.

The sun slowly set as Ryan Ansell’s smart finish gave Bugbrooke the lead, slightly against the run of play. It took Sports until just after half time to fashion a response, centre-half Matt Simpson powering home a header direct from a corner. Sports pushed hard for a winner but found Bugbrooke keeper Olly Garofallo in fine form.

After the drop-offs we returned to hop HQ, changed out of still-wet clothes and consider the day over a pint, whilst a group of young girls pre-loaded with Sambuca before catching a taxi out to the flesh-pots of Peterborough. Our day could not have gone much better, but could their night be anywhere near as good?