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Tuesday 17th April 2018 ko 19.45

Southern Combination Division One

MIDHURST & EASEBOURNE 2 (Carter 15 Broughton 50)

SELSEY 2 (Seye 54 Correll 90)

Att c50

Entry & Programme £5

Many years ago my ex-wife and her family loved to spend weekends at Butlin’s in Bognor Regis. I was never a convert to Billy’s cause, watching Bucks Fizz with one original member (the blond one) wasn’t and isn’t my idea of fun. In my eyes the whole point of the exercise was tick off another local ground. The journey down from Henley-On-Thames was interesting as my former father-in-law has a phobia of motorways, so the obvious M3, M27 route was eschewed.

The route south ended up being more or less as the crow flies, via Farnborough, Hazelmere, and through the South Downs on the A286. I’ll remember passing by the Rotherfield home of Midhurst & Easebourne, and thinking that I simply had to visit. Well the wife’s the ex, I’ve managed to avoid Bucks Fizz and Butlin’s for a decade, but the Rotherfield had somehow managed to escape me!

The River Rother seperates the towns of Midhurst and Easebourne. The latter’s green was where one of the earliest recorded games of cricket was played, making the loss of cricket at Easebourne’s Rotherfield a sad loss. Easebourne is where actors Laurence Fox and Billie Piper chose get married and live until their separation in 2016.

All of that trivia adds up to the area being an highly desirable place to live, and the trees, Victorian houses, usually means the local football team has problems progressing. You can see the NIMBY’s point of view, they’ve paid millions to live in qa big in house in Sussex/Surrey commuter belt, so why should they let anyone risk their property’s price? Britain’s obesity crisis, and any sense of community simply doesn’t come in to it.

It was the case here, the club had real issues gaining permission for floodlights, and despite that minor miracle happening in 2016, the ground fulfills Step 6 grading, and no more. But this isn’t a critique on the FA’s standards, nor should it be. Because Rotherfield does everything Midhurst & Easebourne need it to, and if like me, you’re visiting as a neutral, it’s mighty fine place to watch a game. Maybe it’s the trees, maybe its looking from within the gloom to the lights’ coverage, but the place has atmosphere by the bucketload.

The only fly in the ointment was the game. It was the footballing equivalent of a low-grade heavyweight boxing match. One side would take a swing, then the other without either managing to land the knock-out punch.

Worse still was the attitude of the players and some officials to the referee and his assistants. I’ve sat in enough committee meetings and worked with enough referees to know they’re used to being called every name under the sun. There is one word they all hate, and that’s the one that starts with a “C”

No, not that one, it’s Cheat, and it was bandied around with abandon by both sides. I’m not sure why some people do it, I’ve seen no end of referees make mistakes, but that isn’t cheating, far from it. Of course no footballer has ever made a mistake have they?

The game finished and Robyn and I found a late meal in Midhurst. The peace had returned and the gentility restored.