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Saturday 30th July 2016 ko 16.30

Peterborough & District League Premier Division

THORNEY 3 (Gallacher 71 Lodzian 80 Rayner 87)

LEVERINGTON SPORTS 4 (Reed 19 Kudaba 54 64 90)

Att 203

Entry £4

Programme £1

There are many reasons why a club would want to host a hop game. For some it’s purely a fundraiser, for others it’s the chance to bring the community together. I remember for Berinsfield it was a charm offensive, and for the likes of Films SK in Sweden it was to show off their beautiful country. For Thorney though, the motivation was a first, and completely different.

They wanted to show the world just how lousy their facilities are and why they’re soon to move to Gunthorpe. To quote chairman Michael Bowen in the programme,

“.. our recent history has been more about facilities than football…”

“.. this is our first home league game in 3 years in the PDFL Premier”

“The current pavilion… the roof leaks, the walls have been damaged countless times and.. remedial repairs are all that have taken place over the last 10 years.”

“The pitch and pavilion are on City Council land and… it’s been a familar story of broken promises and budgetary cuts..”

And yes, the facilities aren’t good. BUT, and I’ve put that “but” in capitals for a reason this was a beautifully presented hop game. I’ve been organising these events for a long time and I can’t recall a club official meeting the hop coach to offer a car ride to anyone aboard who couldn’t walk the 200 yards or so to the pitch? They got no takers but it was a wonderful gesture.

Once you got there and got over the fact that the council hadn’t got round to collecting the grass clippings, you saw that what the council hadn’t provided the club had, and with no little style.

Baked potatoes should be seen more often on hop games; the choice of fillings makes keeping different tastes and dietary requirements easy, and I did feel sorry for the club when a generator failed, making the production of hot drinks impossible. It was further proof that smaller clubs try harder.

One look a the pitch made just about everyone think there was no way we’d see a good game, so life being what it is, we got a classic. Not that it looked that way, not at least until the 64th minute. By then Leverington had blasted their way into a 3 goal lead and the game looked done and dusted. But then Thorney threw caution to the wind, and almost unbelievably managed to recover the deficit in 16 glorious minutes.

From that point the script would say that poor, downtrodden Thorney would have found a way to snatch a victory at the death. Of course life doesn’t work that way, and Leverington’s Manusz Kudaba completed his hat trick and won the game with virtually the last kick of the game.

It was disappointing for Thorney, and no club or player likes defeat, no matter how heroic the circumstances. But Thorney set out to do exactly what they planned. They let the footballing world see their plight, but in doing so made a lot of new friends along the way. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to wish them well.