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Friday 16th September 2016 ko 19.45

North Berkshire League Division 3

UFFINGTON UNITED 1 (Larman 49og)

MARCHAM 2 (Yallop 65 Larman 68)

Att 99

Entry & Programme £4

The North Berkshire League Hop has managed to produce plenty of memorable moments since we first visited Steventon back in 2011. Since then we’ve introduced minibuses called Rod, Jane & Freddy, been on two military bases, and seen off a Step 5 league who presumably thought that since we’re off-pyramid we don’t matter.

The fact is that grass-roots football and more specifically this league does matter to a lot of people and it’s adherence to community values has given it a fan club all of its own. There were, however a couple of things for me to ponder for the 6th hop.

The first was the loss of Phil Annets the league’s Press Officer. Phil had been an invaluable link from myself as organiser to the league over the years but had opted to leavue the league after the NBFL’s last AGM. I miss him, and so do many others and it was good to see him at this game in the hop he helped to create.

The second was whether, and how to schedule this game. We’ve held “Precursor” games for the last 2 years, at Abingdon Town and at Wallingford Town, and an idea was to hold another at Kintbury Rangers or at Uffington. When Kintbury informed me their lights weren’t working well enough for a game I pondered Uffington.

On one hand Uffington had hosted us beautifully in 2012, but that would mean many hoppers would have visited then. Could I convince some of them to return, or were there sufficient hoppers who’d missed out then who’d leap at the chance to visit now?

Moreover, the Abingdon and Wallingford games were at Town clubs with plenty of history at a higher level, Uffington with all due respect to them are none of those things, so I argued with myself that they couldn’t possibly be expected to attract the same numbers of locals that the predecessors did.

I took the view that as long as I could give the club a realistic idea of numbers they could decide whether they wanted to host again, and if they did could plan effectively. I told them to expect 50-100 at the clubs’ meeting and advised around 100 once ticket sales had closed so I was reasonably accurate!!

One thing I knew I didn’t need to worry about was the club’s ability to host, and host well. They didn’t let themselves down, Jamie Glock’s chilli and veggie curry was as delicious as back in 2012, but this time Jamie didn’t manage to get himself on the scoresheet!

We did, however see something incredibly unusual, a goalkeeper score for both sides, from the same half, during the same half. The feat was managed by Marcham’s Mitch Larman. He dived to grab a free kick but rolled backwards too far for the first goal but the second was quite something!

Marcham got a free kick just inside their own half, and clearly stung by his error he waved off his team mates to take it. He lashed the ball goalwards and the ball fairly whistled past his opposite number Adam Kern. I wondered then, and I still wonder now why he isn’t on free kicks normally. The goal was from at least 50 yards!!

In the end it was one of those evenings where there was something for everyone. Marcham got the win, some compensation for the loss on their hop game in 2014, Uffington hopefully made some money and enjoyed being hosts once again, and those present had an enjoyable evening.

After all the planning it was good to be up and running again.