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Tuesday 14th March 2017 ko 19.45

Essex Senior League

TAKELEY 4 (Cole 16 18 65 Das 90)

WALTHAM FOREST 1 (Baluaka 73)

Att 76

Entry & Programme £7

Takeley FC, other than being mighty close to Stansted Airport is one of only a few clubs, Copnor-based Moneyfields being another, where you navigate to the ground via a railway station that doesn’t exist! In Moneyfields’ case that’s due to the station being planned but never built, but in Takeley’s case you go over the hump-backed bridge glance to your left and there’s the station- with no trains, or indeed rails either!

The station was of course closed years ago, in 1952 to passengers and 1971 for freight, and more information can be found via the Disused Stations website. These days the line is now the Flitch way footpath from Braintree to Bishops Stortford. The term Flitch refers, would you believe, to a side of bacon. According to local legend if a couple who had been married for a year and a day could prove they hadn’t argued during that time, they were awarded a side, or flitch, of bacon! I now regret not ordering Robyn and I a bacon sandwich each at the match!!

For the uninitiated the Essex Senior League is one to treat with care. It operates at Step 5 but there’s no Step 6 feeder below it, clubs can get elected from the Step 7 Olympian League, but due to ground grading constraints that isn’t a regular occurrence. It means that once in the league a club is unlikely to get relegated without their consent, even if performances would suggest they ought. That in turn can have ramifications as to the quality of the football on offer. That thankfully wasn’t an issue here, this was high quality fayre.

Takeley were elected to the ESL in 2008, but you’d be hard pressed to imagine their time at Step 5 has been relatively brief. Put simply, the ground is close to, if not ready for Isthmian League football, and the whole set-up seems geared in that direction. Other than the excellent facilities, it’s the attention to detail that appeals, whether it be the wipe-clean line-ups board, or even the signposting to the nearest loo! That and a friendly welcome turned what would have been a routine visit to a Step 5 ground into something far more pleasurable.

Takeley won this one straightforwardly enough, with unquestionably the star of the show being Charlie Cole for his beautifully taken hat trick and were far too strong for a cosmopolitan Waltham Forest team whose own history is as interesting as it’s chequered!

As I type, Takeley are fourth, the title looks Barking’s to throw away now, but you would have thought promotion looks like a question of when rather than if.

But as the game came to its end, and I finally managed to get used to the football-shaped lights in the caravan park next door, both Robyn and I reflected on a club that’s come a long way in such a short space of time. Just don’t try and catch the train here though!!

The goal videos come courtesy of Daniel “BTFC” Turner’s YouTube channel.