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Tuesday 1st May 2018 ko 18.30

Banbury Charity Cup Semi-Final

BODICOTE SPORTS 3 (Gibbs 2 62 Reeves 90p)

BISHOPS ITCHINGTON 5 (Kostiuk 25 28 Adair 39 Cooper 44 Bennett 45)

Att 21 at Wroxton Sports FC

Entry £3

One of the many advantages I had whilst living in Banbury was that you can drive out of the town and within 5 minutes be in the countryside with little or no reference to the build-up areas you’d left behind.  Of course in this part of world straddling the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire border you’re in the area where the much of the English Civil War was fought, just about every village has a castle of some description.

Here is the exception to that rule. In Wroxton, the big dwelling is Wroxton Abbey, a Jacobean mansion built on the site of an old Augustinian priory. It’s now the UK base of the American Farleigh Dickinson University. More curious is the fact until 1967 the village had its own railway!

The Oxfordshire Ironstone Railway, as the name would suggest served the Ironstone Quarry near Wroxston, heading east linking the Alcan works just north of Banbury before joining the main line just north of the Banbury station of today. Just over 50 years after it’s demise there’s precious little evidence of its existance, to the point that I managed to spend 7 years living close to the Alcan works without being in any way aware of what I was sleeping on top of!

But it’s the hotel you need to aim for if you want to find the Wroxton Sports Club. The ground is situated behind the Best Western Hotel on the Horley Road. It is one of those little gems of grounds that just ache to be visited and photographed. It was genuinely a case of pick a backdrop and put the action in front of it!

The game saw two Banbury and Lord Jersey League outfits slug it out for a place in the final although it is worth commenting that Bishops Itchington went on to win the league by a massive 12 point margin while Bodicote finished runners-up in the second tier Division One.

It looked like a massive mis-match, to the extent that when Bodicote took an early lead, one of their substitutes running late, asked me the score as he was making his way round to the dugouts. His surprise at his side leading spoke volumes!

It didn’t last, perhaps the champions needed time to warm to their task. 5 goals in 20 minutes won the tie for them, but after the break they did commit the cardinal sin. That sin? They stopped playing and once you stop its next to impossible to start again. Now when Bodicote pulled one goal back it made little difference but the furrowed brows were clear when they Graham Reeves converted a late penalty. Sadly for this neutral there was insufficient time for Bodicote to push their case further even if anything other than a Bishops Itchington victory would have been a travesty.

They went on to beat Deddington Town 2-1 in the final at Easington Sports to crown what was an exceptional season for them. But for Robyn and I this was a bonus of an evening out, one where our expectations were totally exceeded by was we found. And there was the added bonus of how the groundsman chose to tidy up the corner flags!