Wednesday 28th December 2016 ko 19.45
Eastern Counties League Premier Division
FAKENHAM TOWN 3 (Glover 21 Cary 24 Jarvis 52)
KIRKLEY & PAKEFIELD 4 (Eagleton 42 King 51 Lopez 66p Stone 79)
It has to be said that the Norfolk town does have an intriguing nickname, there can’t be many, if any places who answer to, “The Ghosts!” The name references a poem by Robert Bloomfield, “The Fakenham Ghost,” but this was no ordinary apparition, it was the ghost of a donkey! Talk about “Drop the dead donkey!”
The town is close to a railway quirk, the Wells and Walsingham railway. Once upon a time the Norfolk railway, later the LNER ran a line from Wymondham via Walsingham to Wells-next-the-sea. The Wells branch closed in 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts, but due to the efforts of Lt Cdr Roy Francis a 4 mile section was reopened in 1982. But since Francis already owned the 10 1⁄4 in (260 mm) gauge Wells Harbour Railway the reinstated line is also of the narrowest of gauges. By comparison the Ffestiniog Railway‘s gauge is 1 ft 11 1⁄2 in (597 mm)! It claims to be the world’s smallest public railway.
The attraction of this game, other than a chance to catch up with Kirkley & Pakefield whose company I greatly enjoyed a year ago, was to do one of those games I generally can’t do on a weekday, pesky work finishes too late.
The problem was that although being on holiday this was a day where it paid me to leave as late as possible with the weather cold enough for pitches across the UK to be frozen. Thankfully both clubs have excellent Twitter feeds, the match passed an early pitch inspection, so we set off and the dramas over the fog (thankfully) passed us by, until we hit the fog as we crossed into Norfolk at Brandon.
We arrived at Clipbush Park in plenty of time, and were glad to see both that the game was on, and that there was plentiful supply of hot drinks. Once again this was another Eastern Counties League club whose company I enjoyed.
The ground is purpose-built, the club moved here in 1996 after being based with cricket at Baron’s Hall Lawn. It is reminiscent of Aldiss Park, Dereham Town’s also purpose-built ground. Whilst there’s few quirks, it is a high-quality home, fit for eventual promotion to the Isthmian League.
That aim took a slight back-step in a quite incredible game. From a home perspective, being 2-nil and 3-1 up you really should successfully close off the win, but this was about Kirkley’s poor start, they were never as poor as they were in the first 25 minutes. Gradually they ramped up the pressure in the gloom, and whilst the draw would probably have been the fairest result, Kirkley’s completion of a famous victory was stirring stuff.
It was a shame there was no hot food at the ground, but a local takeaway helped fill our bellies, and so satisfying was this as an evening out, that even as I parked up at 2am in Oxford, I was still smiling.