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Wednesday 29th April 2015 ko 18.00

Thames Valley Premier League- Premier Division

HIGHMOOR IBIS RESERVES 3 (Chowdhary 45 86 Reid 60)

MARLOW UNITED 5 (Mason 10 Nichol 14 Flint 56 Thomas 68 71)

Att 19

Entry FREE

No Programme

Many moons ago I paid a visit to Reading Town’s home in Scours Lane in Tilehurst. I endured a dreadful 0-0 draw vs Hartley Wintney and so bad was the game that I became very aware that there was another game going on next door at the Sports Club. I didn’t switch allegiances, even though the cheers indicated that a goal or two was scored, but when I returned to my flat in Henley-on-Thames, I asked my father-in-law who played there.

It transpired that the club was Highmoor Ibis, he’d played there years before, playing for Henley Newtown in the Reading League (rebadged the Thames Valley League for this season), but the club has an interesting background to put it mildly!

Highmoor is a village near Henley, and they merged into the Ibis Club in Reading, in 2001. Ibis is the sports and social club of the Prudential insurance company, which had a strong presence in Reading until recently, but why the name “Ibis?” Some say its a direct reference to the river bird, the club ran quite a few boating clubs, but the alternative explanation is more intriguing!

In the first half of the 20th century legislation separated the insurance industry into 2 parts. The Ordinary Branch (O.B. for short) dealt with policies paid by standing order, later direct debit, whilst the smaller policies that were paid by weekly collection were termed Industrial Branch, or I.B. If you ever had the “Man from the Pru'” call your policy was Industrial Branch. That separation existed all the way up through a firm’s administration, so it was usual for the O.B. and I.B. departments to each have their own sports teams. So the idea that supporters could shout “Come on you I.B’s,” and that shout slowly metamorphose into “Ibis” sounds more than plausible to me!

Highmoor Ibis won the Reading League in 2011, but with the ground not suitable for Hellenic League football the first XI moved to Palmer Park to secure their promotion, finding a neat solution to a rather narrow pitch! They finished as Premier Division runners-up this season. All the other Highmoor Ibis teams though still play at the Ibis club, so I decided to break the groundhopping “No reserves” rule, and pay them a visit.

It is the classic company sports ground, with a highly impressive clubhouse in the middle. There are no lack of pitches either, with a Thames Valley Churches League game on the pitch nearest Reading Town’s ground. The Highmoor Ibis pitch is the other side of the clubhouse, furthest away from Scours Lane, with a view of the almost bewildering number of trains arriving and departing from the newly reconfigured Reading station.

The children’s training session provided a significant problem for Ibis. With the kick-off half an hour earlier than it needed to be, Ibis’ one substitute was leading the children’s activities, and another player was sufficiently late for the game to start with Ibis having only 10 on the pitch. Jordan Brown arrived in the 9th minute and 60 seconds later United scored! From there I wondered whether we’d see a rout, but Ibis fought hard and it was only the late introduction of Quadmani Thomas for United, scoring two quick goals that decisively turned the game in the visitors’ favour.

Many will remember Marlow United from their stint in the Hellenic League groundsharing at Flackwell Heath,from 2006-2010. They withdrew from the Premier Division, took their reserves place in the Reading League, Senior Division, and moved back to Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre. This win took them to within a point of league leaders Reading YMCA and they won the title on the Saturday with a win away at Cookham Dean.