Wednesday 2nd September 2015 ko 18.30
Cirencester & District League Division Two
SHERBORNE HARRIERS 0
THE BEECHES 5 (McKenna 1 14 Walters 68 75 Stratford 77)
If you take the A40 west from Burford in around 5 miles you’ll see a set of ornamental gates on the right. They’re the entrance to Sherborne House’s Lodge and Estate, built by John “Crump” Dutton in the 17th century to indulge his liking for hunting, banqueting and gambling. These days the house is privately owned, the rest by the National Trust but there’s no restriction on what’s just beyond the gates.
Would you believe there’s football to be found here? Just drive though and look through the trees. Everywhere that surrounds looks like a deer park, but the land to the left was originally a rugby and cricket pitch, but now its just the Harriers that play there, paying a peppercorn rent to the National Trust for the privilege. But how did they end up here?
The club used to be Northleach’s youth team but citing a lack of support from the parent club decided to break away, settling here when they discovered this place. They entered the Cheltenham League starting in their fourth division and gradually sinking down the finishing bottom of last season’s 6th division.
They looked for a different challenge for this season, and looked at the Witney & District League before settling on the second (and bottom) tier of the Cirencester League. A quirk of the Gloucestershire pyramid is that actually represents a promotion of sorts. Division One of this league promotes, or rather elects into the second or third division of the Cheltenham, meaning the club has moved from the 14th tier of non league to the 12th!
Not that it felt like that, Sherborne were well beaten by their Cirencester-based visitors. But anyone who visits Sherborne Park, won’t remember the Harriers for anything but their remarkable team spirit.
It can’t be easy losing the vast majority of your games, but Sherborne enjoy playing and each other’s company and that’s how they keep going. I’ve seen it before in the quite wonderful, and less skilful Appleton Stars who took far bigger hidings than the Harriers. Mind you, you do wince when the young ball boys automatically take their positions behind whichever goal Harriers are defending!
Nevertheless it was a pleasure to spend a couple of hours with Lyn and her happy bunch of players, and enjoy them for what they are, people playing the game for the sheer enjoyment of doing so. And in that they’ve found something far more powerful than mere on-field wins.