Saturday 13th October 2018 ko 13.45
Bedfordshire County League Premier Division
QUEENS PARK CRESCENTS 3 (Parrella 21 Rasol 53p 90)
Yusuf sent off 90 (2nd booking)
We picked our way through suburban Bedford, and passed the Charles Wells Brewery on the way. Adjacent to that was the site of the Eyrie, home to Bedford Town from 1908 to 1982 and still just about recognisable as a ground, if you know where to look. This is the Queens Park district of Bedford, and it did come with a history all of its own.
The area was established in 1890 when businessman W.H.Allen London brought twenty acres of land here to build the ‘Queen’s Engineering Works’ and housing for his employees, in a fashion that Jeremiah Salt would have recognised some 90 years earlier.
The current Bedford Town played here on their reformation in 1989 and played at Allen Park, Queens Park, until their new (and current) ground in Cardington opened in 1993. These days the venue is home to Queens Park Crescents, and its past meant it was likely that hop organiser Craig Dabbs would lose a few hoppers to alternate games. For my part, I was fortunate enough to know what Craig and the Crescents were planning, and if some folk wanted to miss out, then that was their loss.
For some time I wanted a club with a strong Asian background to feature on a hop, and to really grab the opportunity and create something special. I remember 5 years ago Singh Sabha Slough doing very well with an early Middlesex League kick-off, but this was on a different level altogether.
On any organised hop it’s the catering that makes the club the real money and that goes double here as the League refuses to relax its “Free Entry” rule even for this day. So when an Asian-based club does a curry, samosa, and rice meal deal and prices it to sell you produces something as profitable as it was memorable.
And so it came to pass, a huge queue with people eating, then once they’d finished joining the back of the queue for more. But let’s give Craig all the credit in the world, because when he held the club meeting Queens Park Crescents wanted to do a barbecue. Maybe you saw it, it was the food point with the shortest queue….
But I don’t want this article to paint Crescents as an Asian football club, there’s far more to them than just that. It became more and more clear that a better description would be a multicultural football club, and it was that melting pot of cultures that I found appealing.
The game, on a tinder dry pitch was certainly entertaining. Superficially speaking Queens Park won this one deservedly but there was a subplot too, and his name was -Hassan Yusuf. The plot was a lineal as it could be, he’d collected an early booking- for encroachment at a free kick of all things, so the question was whether he could avoid collecting another?
A crunching foul a few minutes later saw the referee make it quite clear that any further infraction would see his dismissal. I wondered then, and I wonder now that in a game with rolling substitutions why he wasn’t withdrawn, and when in the final minute another scything challenge saw him dismissed, noone could claim they didn’t see it coming!
But with little time left Queens Park coped with the disadvantage of being a man down easily enough to record an impressive win. And yes that was a win that managed to be punctuated by a child on a pushbike and a small beachball! But such was the afternoon it all added to the charm!
It was everything anyone could possibly wish for, a good game at a club that had so obviously taken Craig’s advice and acted on it. It was good to see a delegation from Wootton Blue Cross, our final destination here to support their league-mates. Equally it was good to see the Crescents return the favour in the evening.
The look of pride on Craig Dabbs face as we headed back to our cars spoke volumes.