Saturday 29th July 2017 ko 16.00
Peterborough & District League Division Two
SPALDING TOWN 2 (Coote 17 Wilson 90)
WISBECH ST MARY SAINTS 1 (McKenna 40)
The story goes that a local man left a legacy leaving Spalding United £200,000 Pinchbeck United £200,000 and Spalding Town 2p! Now I haven’t been able to verify the account, or who or what at Spalding Town irked him, but if true if would help to explain how the UCL/PDFL hop came to be at Knight Street, in Pinchbeck.
The ground is best known for being the home of Pinchbeck United, who were runners-up in the PDFL last season and with it won promotion to the United Counties League. We saw them play their first game in the UCL in the first game of the hop at Huntingdon Town. One glance at the Knight Street ground shows that the place isn’t remotely up to UCL standards so United have moved into a “Joint Tenancy” at Spalding United’s Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field 2 miles south of here. I’m told United are looking for a suitable ground of their own, so I hope that the legacy money can help them achieve that.
That act rather threw us here at GroundhopUK, we’d planned on visiting a Pinchbeck game but since by and large groundhoppers won’t visit groundshares it was clear they wouldn’t be able to host. We were about to rejig the hop when the PDFL let us know that Spalding Town were moving from the Castle Swimming Complex in Spalding into Knight Street and so we could simply substitute club rather than ground. It made for an easy life for Chris Berezai and I but it did look odd, over and above and above the situation where a Spalding plays in Pinchbeck, and a Pinchbeck in Spalding!
All the branding on the ground is still in situ for Pinchbeck United, hardly surprising since they have only just left, and their reserves still play here. What Spalding Town have done is make use of better facilities than they had, and that helped them profit from what could easily have been 10 times their normal crowd.
There was much to consider about the opposition too. Wisbech St Mary Saints are a former reserve team that have broken away from Eastern Counties League outfit Wisbech St Mary with the caveats that they still use their Beechings Close ground, and their “The Saint”-styled badge is almost identical to their former selves. Chris and I (and I’m sure many others too) questioned whether they are a genuine stand-alone side, but we were informed that yes they are fully independent so as such we achieved another first for GroundhopUK- in that we were watching a club play it’s first ever game!
And despite the rather incongruous (if entirely logical) branding I enjoyed Spalding Town’s staging. Pork rolls sold well in for no other reason than it wasn’t another barbecue, and the tea bar managed to keep the queue moving, no easy feat. Elsewhere everywhere else the club looked as if they handle a large crowd like this every week, so Chris and I were in that happy state of semi-redundancy of simply having to count the crowd. We and the club had got the planning and preparation right, and the club pulled the whole event off beautifully.
On that level, and with no disrespect to the visitors, I was pleased Spalding won with close to the last kick of the game. Perhaps the draw would have been equally fair, but when a club works hard at its day, you want only the very best for them.