Friday 5th October 2018 ko 19.45
Western League Premier Division
BRISLINGTON 2 (Taylor 40 Biggins 71)
ODD DOWN (BATH) 3 (Lloyd6 79 82)
For as long as I visit grounds of the Western League I will always think of the late Mark Edmonds, That goes double for the Western Hop, the idea he had, that every year Chris Berezai and try our best to make the most of his legacy for the clubs he set out to help. It puts us under a good kind of pressure, and that goes for everyone involved that remembers Mark. This year it was lovely to see his widow Sarah joining us all for this hop, mainly based in and around Bristol, and I hope she feels we did Mark’s idea justice.
The act of organising a hop at Steps 5 and 6 is known territory to us, to the extent that a few days ago I was speaking to a new league and surprised myself with just how many events at the level we’ve done. That’s shouldn’t be seen as any excuse for complacency, plenty can go wrong but most gremlins we do get have been seen before.
There was one irony though. The hop HQ was based at our hotel in Almondsbury within 5 minutes’ walk from both Almondsbury FC’s and the Gloucestershire FA’s grounds. I did hear a few comments of “Who plays there?” and it did seem strange that we didn’t visit either! There is, of course, next year.
Whatever the event you always want a good opening club, and as we pulled up at Brislington’s turnstile block we got a welcome that virtually guaranteed that! It was a mixture of things, the official there to welcome us to his club, or the post and rope reminiscent of the red carpet at a film premiere, but it was lovely to be caught up in the moment as the hoppers came over to collect their programme packs.
But this wasn’t an All fur coat and no knickers” hosting. It was one of those evenings where as soon as you wondered when something would happen it did!
It helped that Ironmould Lane is ground suitable for a far higher level than Step 5. Its one of the few grounds that manages to keep both the ground graders and hoppers happy. Who couldn’t love a ground with as many quirks as this? Special mention must go to the catering, the spud and chilli was spectacular. It really was the perfect way to open the weekend, and that was before the game kicked off!
But say it quietly, normally when the ground and staging is this good, the game usually stinks. Except, gloriously, wonderfully, Brislington and Odd Down served up a classic. Both sides led, both sides could have won it, but due to George Lloyd’s hat trick Odd Down did.
I strolled back to the minibuses, enjoying all the smiling faces as I went. Heading in roughly the same direction was Julian French; I gave him the thumbs up, and he grinned. Nothing more needed to be said.