Saturday 17th October 2015 ko 19.45
Western League First Division
KEYNSHAM TOWN 2 (Abang 74 Harris 86)
WESTBURY UNITED 2 (Matthews 7 Adams 90og)
The coach pulled into the Crown Field’s car park, and Chris Berezai, Dave the driver, and I strained our eyes trying to find where we were to park. Nothing usual about that, and we quickly spotted club secretary Julian “Jules” French pointing out a coned off area for us. I was beginning to flag a little, and I’m sure I wasn’t only one, so it was good to know that with Jules in charge I could mentally slow down a little. I had after all, had a preview…
At GroundhopUK we almost always hold a host clubs’ meeting around a month before the event. Most hop organisers do it, it helps us give clubs who haven’t seen a large influx of hoppers a steer on what to expect. The other big positive that meeting from our perspective is that it allows clubs to communicate and cooperate on food and drink. We’ve long since learned that its far more profitable for clubs to have varied catering, but what made this meeting unusual was where I’d travelled from to make this meeting at Keynsham.
Noone, I think likes to travel just for the sake of travelling, so we try to place the meeting somewhere fairly central to hop’s geography, but just occasionally you do get a club that doesn’t turn up. That happened in this case, but the excuse that it was a too far to travel couldn’t have been used in this case, as I’d travelled back from Bucharest to be there! Quite literally I’d landed at Luton, dropped off my travelling companion in Oxford and headed for Keynsham. So Jules, I’m sorry for eating all your sandwiches, but I’d had nothing to eat from 8am UK time!
That preview was a real eye-opener too, since my previous visit over a decade earlier the ground has been transformed. The centrepiece is the 3G pitch, replacing the prone-to-flood precursor of yore, but elsewhere there’s new training pitches, and standing areas too. It gives the impression of an ambitious upwardly-mobile club, and in Jules they have a fine secretary, but they did have one problem- their hog roast.
Roasting a pig is a complicated business, the hog is placed on a spit and is rotated for hours. So Mr Piggy was set up, and 3 hours later the club was horrified to discover that he hadn’t turned at all, so one side was raw, the other cremated. Bad news for all, save for the vegetarians, but the measure of how well prepared the club was that there was enough food, including a spectacularly good veggie curry. Once again, all Chris and I had to do was sit back and enjoy the game.
And it was a good game too. Westbury made by far the brighter start and deserved their lead, but gradually the hosts found their feet, and in the end Bertrand Abang’s equaliser was thoroughly deserved. Tom Harris then gave Keynsham the lead for all of 5 minutes only for the hosts to concede an equaliser in heartbreaking fashion, Jason Adams turning a cross into his own net in stoppage time.
It’s the lot of the hop organiser to see things wider than just the game, I’m seldom unhappy at seeing a draw on that basis. Chatting to the Westbury committee at half-time (and not eating all the sandwiches!) it was clear they’d love to host a game, and between them the league and GroundhopUK we’ve got the makings of an excellent idea of how they can do just that. Just watch this space!