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Saturday 6th October 2018 ko 11.00

Western League Division One

LONGWELL GREEN SPORTS 2 (Brittain 2 Keary 36)

WELTON ROVERS 3 (Hunt 28 Seviour 54 77)

Att 213

Entry £5

Programme £1

When we started the Western Hop back in 2015 we actually passed Longwell Green Sports on our way between Bitton and Oldland Abbotonians. Whilst amusing myself with the knowledge that we’d succeeded in convincing a hopper that the latter club was so named because comedian Russ Abbott was a secret benefactor (He actually recorded it in his blog before rapidly deleting it!) we passed the ground and I wondered why we weren’t visiting there and then?

Who knows? The man who put together that first line-up, Mark Edmonds, is sadly no longer with us, but I am bound to point out that given the first 5 games on that hop were all between 5 or so miles of each other, perhaps something had to give! And with no lack of Western League clubs in and around Bristol it was time complete the set.

The club’s origins are certainly interesting. The club was established in 1966 as the works team of Longwell Green Coachworks in the furore following England’s World Cup win. The firm is probably best known for producing the bodywork for many Leyland Titan double-decker buses used in Bristol and South Wales in the 1960’s. While the firm ceased trading in 1983, the club still play on the same converted farmer’s field as back then. In more recent times the club successfully got a public footpath rerouted allowing them to fully enclose the ground. The area’s community centre also forms part of the complex.

It seems that in 2018 you cannot organise a groundhop without the weather intervening. Here the rain wasn’t anywhere near as much as an issue as it was at, say, Vale United, there is cover- we had a game of “See how many hoppers you can fit in an Arena stand” but it was the club’s off-the-field facilities that really helped them.

If you can keep everyone dry before kickoff then you’re at a massive advantage, in essence you have a captive audience to sell whatever food, drink and souvenirs you have to offer. And Longwell Green did that to perfection, there was even enough room for Chris and I to set up indoors to distribute the remaining programme packs. I called in to the little cafe for a tea and a cake, the place was packed. It was the same story when I called in at the bar too.

But if you’re going to get wet watching a football match, make it a good one. And when you do I’d suggest it pays to make sure it involves the Western Hop’s Saturday morning specialists Welton Rovers. That’s twice they’ve featured on this slot and that’s two good games in the wet they’ve featured in. Like last time they won the game, perhaps we can ask them to be the away side next season, and again they won because they managed to be that little bit more clinical than their hosts.

There was one small curio, Welton Rovers played in green, but the side that actually are called “Green” played in blue!

The rain eased slightly and after thanking the thoroughly charming Longwell Green committee I trudged over to the minibuses. The trip to Clevedon wasn’t far but unbelievably it was to be the longest trip of the day!