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Saturday 8th October 2016 ko 10.15

Western League Division One

CHEDDAR 2 (Ham 5 Vaughan 17)

PORTISHEAD TOWN 1 (Mortimer 51)

Att 222

Entry £5

Programme £1

The morning started cool, with overnight rain; I quietly celebrated that this was the last English hop of 2016. Four games in a day is one thing when the weather’s good, it’s rather different when it’s cold and wet. I headed down a surprisingly quiet M5 and made for Bowden’s Park.

I’d visited Cheddar for their first game in the Western League and had mentally turned down another club making their bow at Step 6, West Didsbury & Chorlton in the North West Counties League, on the basis that I’d be more likely to see the latter on an organised hop! I was wrong although with that league taking on the Easter Hop I wasn’t wrong by much!

As a town Cheddar reminds me a little of my home town of Oxford. In Oxford there are two distinct halves, the University bit that the tourists flock to, and the half where people actually live. It’s not dissimilar in Cheddar, although I’m bound to say the two sides do seem to co-exist rather better! We all enjoyed the PA man referring to Bowden’s Park as “The Theatre of Cheese,” but a comment like “Welcome to the home of Oxford University” would NOT go down well at Oxford United.  That’s no bad thing when one of the scorers was called “Ham”. I’ll leave the one-liners to you!

I enjoyed Cheddar’s company, they were one of those clubs who managed to be both comfortable in their own skin, and extremely good at hosting. So much so that in the usual distribution of badges and programmes I completely forgot I had a breakfast waiting for me!

Normally we book accommodation with breakfast included, but once Cheddar and Chard let us know that they could do a full  English breakfast sat down, it was an obvious move to pay two host clubs for breakfast rather than the accommodation. So there I sat in Cheddar’s clubhouse at half time eating a very good full English a full hour after everyone else; they’d discovered the Cheddar Brewery’s wares. I envied them a little, I don’t drink on duty, but I did buy myself a bottle for later!

Part of the outline plan for next year’s hop involves a trip to Portishead, so it was good have them see a well hosted hop game, and although on the pitch there were second best in this game, Cheddar could and should have scored more, I’m looking forward to seeing how their Bristol Road ground has changed since I visited in 2005, their first season in the league. It’s funny how things work in circles isn’t it?