Sunday 2nd August 2015 ko 14.00
Peterborough & District League Division One
OUNDLE TOWN 3 (Hipwell 3p C Murphy 45 Kaye 77)
BASTON 4 (C Murphy 31og Pick 49 Waters 58 90p)
For me the grounds I visit that give me the most satisfaction are the ones that surprise me. There is a tendency amongst the less experienced groundhoppers to treat everything below Step 6 as “Fields” with little other than the game to excite. The truth is that without research you genuinely don’t know what you’ll find. It could be no more than a pitch, or it could be a gem, the trick is to put your prejudices in your back pocket and find out.
Oundle Town’s Station Road home is a case in point. The club exists at an assumed 8 promotions from Football League status, but the ground and club are the kind of place and people who make you want to linger.
I first met club secretary Malcolm Smith at our clubs’ first preparation meeting a few months ago at PDFL HQ in Peterborough. As organiser you go through the arrangements and hope that the clubs will ask lots of questions, but getting someone to ask the first one is usually a tough task. Malc was great, asked loads of questions and we sat there with a sketch of the ground’s layout and planned how they’d approach their day. So as the coach parked up, and the class act that’s Malc was there to welcome us, I grinned, the whole set-up was that sketch brought to life!
It was one of those scorching days that you thanked your planning and preparation that you had to do nothing more than count the crowd. The chilli con carne was the foodstuff of legend, and I purchased a bottle of Nene Valley bitter for consumption later (I don’t drink on duty). The club had plenty of everything that could make them money, smiled, charmed and their visitors loved them for it.
It helped that the game was as good as the hosting; it was one of those topsy-turvy encounters that you couldn’t keep your eyes from and one where either side could have won. Would Oundle keeper Mark King have saved the last-minute penalty if he hadn’t gone off injured?
Perhaps the best answer to that was that Malc the mike read out the final score whilst still managing to smile. It was one of those afternoons when watching a club enjoy its big day out makes all the efforts Chris Berezai and I put into making it work like clockwork worthwhile. Next time I visit PDFL HQ for a hop meeting and I’m passing Oundle on the A605 I’ll glance to my left, see Station Road, and use Malc and his club as a blueprint, they were wonderful.