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Tuesday 27th December 2016 ko 19.45

Southern Combination Division One

STEYNING TOWN 3 (Finney 14 Romain 51 63)

STORRINGTON 1 (Searle 83)

Att c90

Entry £5

Programme £1

Let me tell you a story. Almost exactly two years ago 3 of us travelled from Oxford for a Sussex County League game at the Shooting Field.  I’d phoned ahead as the weather had been wet, and the club were extremely keen to get the game on, as they’d put on a sponsors and players’ party in the clubhouse afterwards. We reached the pretty town, had Fish & Chips, and walked into the ground just as the referee called off the game due to a waterlogged pitch. 

Now it was disappointing for us, and it was disappointing for the club, but we were rather taken by the club immediately offering to feed us, and we enjoyed a drink before battling the elements back to Oxford. I kept an eye on the club’s fortunes, winced when they lost, and winced again when the FA made the County League change its name. But the club did refit the clubhouse, and perhaps more importantly they replaced the pitch with a 3G type surface.

After a pub meal after the Worthing Town Leisure Robyn and I were still far too early, but guessed there’d be a televised game on in the clubhouse. We were right, but the welcome we got was far beyond what anyone could reasonably expect. I certainly do not expect to be recognised after one brief meeting two years ago!

Or to put it another way I organise groundhops for clubs like Steyning. The nature of the hopper is that he seldom revisits, so when someone from a club says “Look forward to seeing you again,” you feel guilty when chances are you won’t be back. When it’s a club like Steyning you’d just love to bring a coachload with you next time!

Not that we’ve any plans for a County League Hop. There could have easily been, when GroundhopUK’s negotiations with the Wessex League broke down I had every intention of approaching the Sussex County League as it was. But then Mark Edmonds of the Western League phoned me and I’ve no regrets that our southern hop went (literally) west! But the County League has 3 divisions…. Maybe one day…

But there was the small matter of the game to consider, something of a local derby. Normally Robyn and I adopt a policy of strict neutrality, but under the circumstances we had to give Steyning a cheer. I’m not sure Steyning needed two extra fans, they were worthy winners but it was good to put a little something back. It really was a life-affirming evening, and Steyning, I’ll be back. I’m not sure how, but it’ll happen, I promise.