Sunday 9th October 2018 ko 14.00
Western League Division One
BRISTOL TELEPHONES 1 (Goulding 60)
KEYNSHAM TOWN 2 (Shorney 27 38)
There was no secret as to why the final game of the 2018 Western Hop was always going to be the most popular amongst the groundhoppers. Bristol Telephones are only in their second season in the Western League having won the Gloucestershire County League in 2017 so many would target this game, and this game alone in order to re-complete the league. By means of an example, the BTRA Ground, Stockwood Lane was to be my only new ground of the weekend!
The club were formed in 1948 as the club of the Telephones section of the Bristol Post Office. They based themselves unsurprisingly at the Bristol Civil Service Club, a situation that only changed when BT was hived off from the Post Office in 1981 in preparation for later privatisation.
The club led a nomadic existence until BT bought the Stockwood Lane ground to house both cricket, rugby and football for the Bristol Telephones Recreation Association in 1984. At a stroke the club had neighbours in Gloucestershire County League outfit Cutters Friday, who offered use of their changing rooms when in 1994 the changing rooms were burnt down.
The ground as perhaps you’d expect, is very much a work in progress with the Western League allowing Telephones the time to get the ground up to Step 6 standards. A help has been Melksham Town’s new ground, the lights and stand being erected behind the goal are from the old Conigre Ground supplementing the main seated stand.
It will, in time, be a ground to grace the Western League but the throng I’m sure will remember Bristol Telephones for a beautifully staged hop game. Similar could be said about Bridgwater Town’s efforts earlier, but what made Telephones’ efforts so commendable is that they had far less to work with. The gazebo sheltered the real ales for the hoppers and the Thatchers Gold for the Bristolians- believe me the city lives on the stuff, and the chilli and curry sold as quickly as they could move the stuff.
Now you probably know the script by now, club stages really well and loses the game, but this time it happened rather unusually, or put more accurately through the boot of Keynsham’s Cam Shorney. His two curling, teasing free kicks are what settled this game and Western League defences will have to learn to not to foul on the edge of the eighteen yard box.
But at the risk of repeating most of the articles on this year’s Western Hop, this was an afternoon that was about far more than the game. If you’re a host club obviously the financial rewards are important, and for most it’s what attract them to host in the first place. But this, and for others on the hop more happened. Telephones made an impression on every single person that walked through their gate, and not all of those were hoppers. The aim has to be for some of those people to like what they saw and be attracted back again and again.
Mark Edmonds’ influence means I feel that sense of legacy more than perhaps any other hop I’m involved in. With that comes a sense of responsibility and I headed for home with sense that the clubs had managed to fulfil that. Thanks therefore should go to every single person who attended, played, officiated, and volunteered in any of these 7 games. My only sadness is that barring a mass influx, next year will be the last hop in this league. For a league that Chris and I never thought we’d hop in, that’s some going.