Sunday 29th July 2018 ko 13.15
United Counties League Premier Division
WELLINGBOROUGH WHITWORTH 0
COGENHOE UNITED 3 (Dore 27 Dove 45 82)
Quite literally it was a 30 second walk from Wellingborough Town’s Dog & Duck to Wellingborough Whitworth’s Victoria Mills Ground. One lies at right-angles to the other, and for years Whitworth were seen as very much the junior neighbour to Town. The club were started in 1973, and despite the name seem to have had little or no connection to the famous flour-making company based originally in Irthlingborough and now in Wellingborough. But in the here and now I had a queue to contemplate.
The rain was still falling and the queue at the entrance was growing by the second. Now normally I interpret a queue with a view that at least there’s enough people to form one, but people were getting wet, mainly due to the entire crowd being shepherded through one point. That isn’t ideal, and its something we at GroundhopUK council against, not least because those who’ve booked in advance can be waved through after a brief check of their ticket.
But what followed the ticket check was well worth the slight dampness. I’d spotted the tent arrangement during the Town game and the entry point was at one end of this. The tent was clearly more used to being part of the provision at weddings, you don’t normally see chandeliers at non-league football grounds. It was being used to house Whitworth’s merchandise and raffle offerings and since every single patron was walking through, it meant both were doing a roaring trade!
I was equally intrigued by what was going on in the clubhouse. The club’s food offering was unusual, a Ploughman’s lunch, I’ve only seen that tried once before, at Faringdon Town on the 2012 North Berkshire Hop and I did enjoy explaining what a Ploughman’s was to the German contingent. I’m surprised there isn’t a Deutsch equivalent!
I ate, and watched the club act on what was clearly a very well thought out plan and perhaps inevitably found myself comparing Whitworth’s offering to Town’s. Town’s, save for a Chilli con Carne and a line-ups board was roughly akin to what I’s expect on any given matchday. Don’t see that as any kind of criticism, more the recognition that everything there was in place to cope with a crowd easily.
That wasn’t the case at Whitworth, which in my eyes makes their achievement all the more commendable. I ended up doing nothing more than counting the crowd at both games, but any neutral at Whitworth cannot have been anything other than impressed at the efforts they made. I’d like to think they reaped the financial rewards from it. I can’t report they were extremely pleased to have got a larger crowd than their close neighbours, clearly there is some rivalry here!
Both Irchester and Cogenhoe could have been included on this hop, and they are very much in our plans for the future. The club pronounced Cuck- No produced one of the more eye-catching displays I’ll see this season. But even in defeat this was Whitworth’s afternoon, yes it rained, and yes they lost, but as we headed north to the final game of the hop it was clear that more than any other UCL club on the 2018 hop, they were the club that most enhanced their reputation.
They were superb hosts.