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Monday 17th August 2015 ko 19.30

Combined Counties League Division One

ABBEY RANGERS 2 (Macklin 68 Hartlebury 81)


Att 157

Entry & Programme £5

I’m beginning to think despite many aggravating factors we’re beginning to see a renaissance in southern-based non-league clubs. I’m well used to having to travel north to visit an iconic ground at Step 5 or below, then visiting grounds at a similar level locally and seeing little more than a barrier.

You can see the problem, sky-high land prices, low attendances, and unsympathetic ground grading rules, have made winning a Step 7 league a means to an end rather than a means of elevation in my part of the world.

Except I’m beginning to wonder whether the tide has changed. AFC Stoneham have refurbished the old Pirelli ground and have been elevated to the Wessex League, Hayes & Yeading look to be returning home soon, and the Combined Counties League has a new side, and at their own ground.

And let’s face it Addlestone Moor, in leafy Surrey commuter-belt, just about a mile from the M25 isn’t the kind of place that lends itself to a football club trying to improve its lot. But improve it they have, with floodlights and a rail installed during the close season. The second-hand turnstile is ready to be installed and until a stand can be either built or delivered, until then the overhang to the spacious clubhouse offers both shelter, seating, and somewhere you can legally have a drink!

The club were fortunate that so many hoppers phoned the club for their first game under lights, that they increased their programme production, and while demand satisfied demand, I reflected that the attendance on a night with precious little other football on, the game saw an attendance roughly equivalent to a Saturday or Bank Holiday with 2 or 3 staggered kick-offs. Unusual kick-offs will attract the hoppers, but the question is who advises the clubs on how best to cope?

On a warm night the throng saw a game that took a little time to spring to life. When a defensive lapse saw Ross Nunn open the scoring for Lammas, Rangers roused and a penalty soon brought them level. Unquestionably the moment of the game was Danny Hartlebury’s teasing, curling free kick. It won the game for Rangers, and sent the one-time visitors home happy, and I’m sure others will follow, perhaps though not quite so many at once!