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Wednesday 12th October 2016 ko 19.30

Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division

HADLEY 1 (Belmansour 40)

EDGWARE TOWN 2 (McCluskey 52 Blackburne 68)

Att 95

Entry £6

Programme £1

There’ve been some remarkable returns home in non-league this season. One would be Fisher Athletic but in many respects Hadley’s return home is even more remarkable. 

Traditionally Hadley play at Brickfield Lane, in Arkley, near Barnet. Now Fisher’s one saving grace is that their home is in Rotherhithe, a working class area while Hadley’s is frankly well-to-do. A number of Premier League footballers, such as Edgar Davids, have lived here whilst playing for the likes of Tottenham, and other residents include or have included Emma Bunton and Jeremy Beadle.

The impact of being a small football club in a well-to-do area is that carrying out even the most basic of ground improvements is often stymied by the N.I.M.B.Y. lobby and this was certainly the case the case here. The club entered the Spartan South Midlands League in 2008 but were forced to play 1st XI games at Potters Bar Town to achieve ground grading. It seemed that pressure from residents would make improving Brickfield Lane, and in particular the erection of floodlights impossible.

But may be this is the season for miracles because the club have and are spending £400,000 in improvements. Part of that is on the retractable floodlights with a strict curfew of 21.30 on their use. That meant that Hadley’s recent FA Cup replay versus Eastbourne Borough had to be played back at Potters Bar due to the possibility of extra-time. The club hope the curfew will be relaxed soon, but elsewhere the improvements are both numerous and highly impressive.

In a sense it was a shame this game turned into something of a groundhopperfest. The crowd looked a lot larger than 95, and the club struggled with both the hoppers and the following from another club who know all about a peripatetic existance, Edgware Town. The programmes sold out an hour before kick-off but there was quite a buzz in the clubhouse where Hadley manager Micky Hazard (ex Tottenham, Chelsea and sw****n) was an ebullient host. When you go do try his wife’s carrot cake!

The match was a genuine game of two halves. At 1-0 at half time it was hard to see how Edgware could find a way back into the tie, but manage they did, and in the end they just about deserved the win.

In the final analysis it was wonderful to see two sides who’d had real problems with their home grounds both at permanent homes. I wish them both well for the future.