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Saturday 29th April 2017 ko 19.00

North Berkshire League Charity Shield

BERINSFIELD 5 (Rawlings 9 54  Lee 44 Palmer 75 Ingram 90p)

SAXTON ROVERS 3 (Haines 30 Parry 40 Cox 78)

Att 204 at Milton United FC

Entry & Programme £3

If you want value from your cup finals then the North Berkshire League seldom lets you down. Three quid, 8 goals, and your programme thrown in too! And just to make it even better, the ability to go to another game first, and a massive local derby to finish off your day!

The NBFL Charity Shield is competed for by the top 16 NBFL sides decided by finishing league positions the previous season. In the here and now that meant the new NBFL champions would play the runners up. And of course that meant the working class village the other side of the road from Dorchester-on-Thames playing the working-class estate from Abingdon.

It is a rivalry based more on talent than geography. Both clubs have other clubs far nearer to them than their rivals, but the history tells you that when Berry play Saky you’d better come to watch, and you’d better not take your eyes off the action! Of course the sparks do fly between the fans, they did after this one, but you get Berry’s Jackie and Saky’s Rab in the same room the mutual respect is obvious.

The backdrop for the game was Berinsfield’s controversial loss in the Oxon Intermediate Cup. It had been a bruising experience for them both physically and mentally and being on announcements duty for the game I was watching the completion of the team line-ups with some interest.  Saxton turned up first, suited and booted with an air of quiet determination, but then the Berinsfield team arrived in Hawaiian shirts….

I know Berinsfield well, so I guessed the kidology. Manager Stephen Masterson is a canny operator, adept of taking the weight of expectation off of his charges. The idea was to look calm and casual, and whilst it worked, I spotted Nathan Frost looking more nervous than normal, and I could see why, where was Mark Ingram?

The Berinsfield midfielder so often acts as the glue holding the team together and noone seemed to know where he was! It turned out that his legs were stiff and so he’d gone swimming and dashed in just as the deadline for handing over the team sheets loomed.

I’d watched Berinsfield collect 7 yellow cards and 2 red cards at the Oxon Intermediate Cup final due in main to weak refereeing, and anyone seeing that game in isolation could have been forgiven for worrying what could follow when a local rivalry was added to the melting pot of the pressure of another final.

It needed a strong referee, and that man was Steve Phipps. He’s a former EFL referee and whilst he tends to cover only local games these days before the game he was the coolest man present.That transfered itself to the game, the players were allowed to play, and yes only 3 players were booked, none of them from Berinsfield. It all rather reinforced my view of the previous Wednesday.

The two sides served up a classic, and that’s not a term I use lightly. Saxton led twice and on another day could and should have won the tie. But perhaps Berinsfield’s loss at Kidlington and the knowledge that both Max Palmer and Mike Hinkin would be banned for the two clubs rematch 2 week later in the North Berks Cup Final,  they dug deep -and found enough to win a game that will long be remembered. Here’s Danniel Smith’s footage of the game, and as I said earlier, don’t take your eyes off it for second!