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Tuesday 5th December 2017 ko 19.45


ROYAL AIR FORCE 2 (Campbell 57 Harbottle 67)


Att c40 at RAF Cosford Outdoor Stadium

If you’re roughly my age you’ll remember RAF Cosford as where the UK Indoor Athletics Championships were held in the 70’s and 80’s. I remember the sound of athletes feet against the wooden boards as they ran around the steeply banked 200 metre circuit. Here Seb Coe set the indoor world record for the 800 metres at 1:46.00 in 1981. You’d like to see that wouldn’t you?

Sadly the stadium is no more, competition from the likes of the National Indoor Arena meant that the arena is now plain Hangar 146 and is used for training engineering students with only a mural a nod to its past.

But on the other side of the road from Albrighton and the M54, the outdoor stadium both remains and retains it’s title. It is a typical forces stadium, and one that evokes Tidworth Oval another must-visit place to watch a game.

The outdoor stadium lies outside the main base, so there’s no need to worry about taking I.D. or allowing time for security checks along the lines of RAF Benson. It was simple matter of simply aiming for the lights and parking up. The open gate invited you in.

Athletics rules the roost here, but you could watch the game from the track and on a cold night the free tea, coffee and biscuits were greatly appreciated. But why were we there?

This year marks the RAF’s centenary, and to mark the occasion their football team are playing a series of friendlies. This was a precursor to game against the Prison Service on the next Saturday at the same venue.

Halesowen’s view of the fixture was nuanced. They were clearly honoured to be asked to play, but are struggling at the wrong end of the Northern Premier League’s Premier Division. They named a 12-man squad with a mixture of youth and experience and hoped to avoid injuries and give their hosts a good game. They managed both.

You really wouldn’t known it was a friendly either. It was a game of two well-managed sides playing a good competitive match. Two defensive errors settled it, and I suspect Halesowen’s management left knowing a lot more about their fringe players than when they arrived.

I was a little surprised at being one of only two groundhoppers there. I know forces football seems to be off of many groundhoppers’ radars which is shame, and it was a friendly without a programme which didn’t help. Each to their own of course but there was so much to enjoy here.

One final word, the job abbrevation on the “Keep off the grass” signs is a little unfortunate, don’t you think?