Saturday 14th October 2017 ko 11.00
Bedfordshire County League Division One
WIXAMS 4 (White 5 Tibbett 1 Natola 36 Battams 59)
SANDY 1 (Beall 64)
Bedfordshire Hop organiser Craig Dabbs and I have reached the point where we can look each other in the eye and know exactly what the other is thinking. Because his Bedfordshire is my North Berkshire and in so many ways the two hops have similar, clubs, clienteles and aspirations. The issues he has making this hop work are so similar to my own, and as I was working to make my game at the Diamond Light Source work, he was doing the same at AFC Kempston. One thing Craig did managed to do that was new to me though was putting on two games at places that I couldn’t find on a map.
Wixams is a small village-like development built from 2007 on the site of the former Royal Ordnance Factory Elstow, just to the south of Bedford and west of the A6. The name is an abbreviation of Wixamtree, a former hundred, or administrative area nearby. Or putting in it another way, I attempted to put the address into my elderly satnav and the machine thought it was still a brownfield site!
Robyn and I arrived to the throng outside the changing rooms. There’s two pitches here, the 3G in cage that the club normally use and the grass pitch parallel that Craig wisely switched this game to, the extra space for spectators was handy. But you can read far too much into facilities; this is a well-appointed village sports centre but what I hope the hoppers took from their visit here was just how well the club hosted.
Organising at this level isn’t easy so Craig should take great credit for how well Wixams did. Breakfast baps were served at a bewildering rate, together with teas, coffees, cold drinks and yes… beers. As ever Terry the badge was in situ and there was the line-ups board on time, and accurate. When a hop game is this well-presented it looks so easy, trust me it isn’t!
It soon got to a point where Robyn was enjoying what was rapidly turning into the GroundhopUK jolly boys outing. Unburdened by the stresses of organisation Chris Berezai and I were actually relaxing at one of these events for a change. And slowly Craig was seeing the results of his hard work and leadership.
In simple terms that was a club doing well both on and off the field. The game was something of a turnup for the books, Sandy are doing well this season but on the day the hosts were deserved winners. All too soon it was over and time to head somewhere else I couldn’t find on a map. But as we left it was lovely to see people from Wixams FC there to thank us for coming. Class costs nothing, but the truth of it was that the pleasure was all ours.