Saturday 25th April 2015 ko 12.50
Notts Senior League- Division One
NETHERFIELD ALBION 1 (Riley 84)
I was a little puzzled when we set off for Victoria Park, as hop organiser Rob Hornby’s instructions had the club in Teal Close, Gedling, and checking on an online mapping service I couldn’t see a ground there. The answer came when we passed Carlton Town’s ground and encountered a huge queue of traffic!
It transpired that the end of Teal Close is the other side of the road from the ground, and would have been a far easier place for many to park than trying to get 150-or-so cars to turn right across a busy road. Once parked up I could take a look at my surroundings, and found a typical local authority ground. There was a changing room block, two pitches, both with poorly maintained surfaces, and precious little else.
There wasn’t much for the club to work with, and trying to get a crowd like this through a single gate was something neither Rob or any other hop organiser would recommend, but in this case there didn’t seem to be any other way of doing it. I looked into the eyes of the volunteers and saw the panic.
Still, Rob’s plan of removing teamsheet production from being the clubs’ responsibility was working well, and once I’d bought one of the last pies I found somewhere to jot down the line-ups, only to find some senior hoppers complaining about the busy schedule. Not my gig, but I did wonder if the complaining would have been so vociferous if the Bingham game had finished 5-5?
Where they did have a point was that the club seemed unprepared for the crowd they’d got. I hate to see a club run out of anything that could make them money, so seeing both the programmes, food, and soft drinks run out early was disappointing on many levels. Rob Hornby is probably the best hop organiser out there in getting people to buy advance tickets, so did the club not heed his advice?
A crowd of 300 was eminently predictable based on advance ticket sales of 160. Still if nothing else, it reinforces the advice that if a programme is important to you- BUY A TICKET! I would point out that after the game the move to control the traffic filtering back on to the main road was an inspired one, and I’d like to thank the club for that. It kept the hop on what was a tight schedule.
I’ve been to enough hop games where the club have not been able to present themselves well to know that an exciting game will change everything for the better, a good example would be Team Northumbria on the Northern Hops. Sadly the game was dreadful, with neither team able to string more than the occasional coherent pass on a surface that was a savage indictment on the local authority’s care for the pitch.
There was as sharp shower, and as I sheltered under someone’s umbrella I gave the game up as another nil-nil, but then as the clock wound down Chris Riley’s shot hit a bump and spun past Scott Coxen in the Nottinghamshire goal. It kept the OCD brigade from suicidal thoughts, but in truth the game was far poorer a spectacle than the Bingham game had been.
That’s nothing against either team, not every game can be a classic, and nothing to do with the level either, I’ve seen poor games at every level, it happens and you just have to shrug your shoulders and move on.