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Friday 10th April 2015 ko 19.30

North Berkshire League- War Memorial Cup Final

EAST HENDRED 1 (Mason 35og)

BURGHCLERE 2 (Gannon 22 Smallridge 32)

Att 267 at Alfredian Park, Wantage (Wantage Town FC)

Entry & Programme £3

I’m tempted to start with this one with a similar line to the one I used when I attended the 2012 final here, in fact lets do just that,

That’s right folks, a measly three quid. I mean, what of significance can you buy for £3 these days? Of course, if you like the NBFL it buys you a fantastic evening’s entertainment.”

A fair amount of water has flown under the bridge since then, Berinsfield are Division One big-boys, whilst Sutton Courtenay are under new management and are having mixed fortunes in Division 2.

For me, the big change was what it all meant to me, back then we’d done one NBFL hop and I was still learning about the league, and them me. Now I get to share a joke with the committeemen manning the gate, and the gaggle of us at the half-way time consisting of referee, the committee, and the groundhop organiser can watch the game and chew the fat. We never did come up with answer to “What is the collective noun for referees?”

The competition is for first XI’s of clubs outside of the NBFL’s top division; its an unusual arrangement, but it does produce good finals, and this one was no exception. It pitched last year’s losing finalists East Hendred, trying to win the final at their fourth attempt, against Burghclere only in their second season in the NBFL.

Perhaps the weight of that history weighed heavily on East Hendred, as Burghclere raced out of the traps and were good value for their 2-0 lead. As a neutral the own goal made the tie interesting, but Burghclere’s defence looked solid and despite a late rally from East Hendred, Burghclere held for a deserved victory.

But as I left I glanced back at the throng still enjoying themselves. Just look at that crowd, the advantage I have watching as varied a diet of football as I do, is I see its significance. How many leagues can pull in an attendance to watch two sides nominally EIGHT promotions from the Football League? People keep telling me non-league football is dying, not in this league it isn’t, you just have a league that does things properly here, but anyone who’s turned up the hop games each September knew that already!