Saturday 13th October 2018 ko 11.00
Bedfordshire League Division One
BEDFORD ALBION 9 (Kelly 3 Babbington 17 30 44 50 Wright 23 Lewis 35 39 Sidhu 64)
It was an uncommonly early start for the Bedfordshire Hop. An unfeasibly strong coffee jolted the senses before driving from Oxford to Wavendon to pick up Chris Garner (anything eastbound seems to involve him!) before heading to Biddenham to meet organiser Craig Dabbs for a spot of role reversal.
Chris Berezai was already there, and with he, Craig and I driving the hoppers around for the day it was very much a question of Chris and I returning a favour. God knows Craig’s driven for us enough times over the years, and in fact the only worry I had over the whole day was whether some people would see us helping Craig out and think we were somehow involved.
We’re not and never have been, this hop is very much Craig’s baby, and I for one have no desire to see GroundhopUK organise every single hop, it wouldn’t be healthy and I like attending these events without the pressure of organisation! And true to form about twenty minutes in someone asked me whether I’d done the head count yet?
Our first visit was a visit to a new sporting facility with a new club as tenant. Bedford Albion are only 4 years old and I suspect the Woodlands Sports Centre in Ashmead Road is roughly the same age. We arrived just as the heavens opened, clearly this year noone can organise a groundhop without the weather intervening!
Thankfully the rain soon abated, the the club did a superb job selling bacon rolls, cakes, and drinks of hot, cold and alcoholic varieties! It was, in short everything any organiser would hope of a host club.
What followed was as a complete as a demolition as you’ll see all season to the point that I did wonder whether we’d see whether we’d see the score suggested on the front of the programme. As you can see the date of the game (13:10) had a footballer obscuring the number 1, and 13-0 looked likely to be exceeded at half time!
Sandy are a far cry from the side that plied its trade in the South Midlands League (now the Spartan South Midlands League) as Sandy Albion from 1958 to 1994. Their manager left the week before this game, and it was act of mercy when Albion subsituted their forwards after Paul Babbington scored his fourth. Suffice it to say the substitutes were nowhere near as potent!
Despite the rather one-sided nature of the game, this is a hop game Craig will look at with a high level of satisfaction. This is a ground I’m sure will see massive development as Albion progess upwards, and those grass banks will give them a head start! But more than anything else this was a well-presented hop game that I’m sure will have seen the club do well from, both financially, and in terms of increased profile. And as any organiser will tell you, that’s all you’re really looking to achieve.