Monday 7th August 2017 ko 19.45
National League- South Division
HUNGERFORD TOWN 2 (Willmoth 45 Williams 52)
WESTON SUPER MARE 0
Maybe it’s my age but I still find it hard to frame the pretty market town of Hungerford in any other way than what the residents call “The Tragedy” when almost exactly 30 years ago a lone gunman killed 16 here, including two in Bulpit Lane. I’m not sure how a town manages to build an identity after such an event, but somehow there’s something vibrant about Hungerford Town.
It’s been many years since I first paid Bulpit Lane a visit. Back then the club were languishing in that short-lived oddity, the Isthmian League’s Step 5 Division 2. The move sideways to the Hellenic Premier a year or two later felt like a relegation even if the crowd on the Hellenic Hop was suitably healthy! But since those days the club has slowly evolved, almost organically, and I missed the whole thing!
My reason for being there was to see my friend Andreas, that’s his sunglasses you can see on the Lillestrom article. There was also the chance to meet Per-Gunnar Nilsson, editor of the perenially excellent Groundhopping.se website, but it was also interesting to see the evolution of the ground.
The two stands are still in situ, but there’s now more cover, both behind the goal, and at the sides. That includes a new “Arena” stand, thankfully on a plinth and an as yet unused turnstile block, to allow the club to play in the National League Premier in the future; Hungerford were precluded from taking place in last year’s playoffs.
It was obvious why the investment was made; the team are good, very very good in fact. It took a little time, and it didn’t help that a goal was erroneously wiped for offside. But the opening goal, a Callum Willmoth thunderbolt was worth the twelve quid entry, and the winner had an element of comedy.
A free kick was awarded on the left edge of Weston’s 18-yard box, and keeper Luke Purnell lined up his defensive wall. Unfortunately a member of the bench thought he’d got the positioning wrong and moved the wall just slightly to the left and yes that gap is exactly where Luke Williams’ free kick curled, past a despairing Williams. With friends like these……?
It was, despite that, one of those nights where the score accurately reflected the play, but as I wished Per-Gunnar and Andreas good luck on their travels I reflected on how far Hungerford Town have come, and wished best wishes on Hungerford’s town as the tragedy’s anniversary nears.