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Tuesday 6th November 2018 ko 19.45

United Counties League Premier Division

LEICESTER NIRVANA 6 (Nassor 32 43p 50 Anastasi 45 65 Brown-Wingfield 79)


Att c50

Entry £5

Programme £1

It was of little surprise that this game was something of a hopper-fest. The case of Leicester Nirvana is an odd one, but rather compelling. The original Leicester Nirvana club started in the 1980’s and rose through youth football to play two stints in the Central Midlands League in the late 80’s and early 90’s. However in 1992 they left the CMFL to return to their roots of providing youth football.

In 2008 the club merged with Leicestershire Senior League outfit Thurnby Rangers, whose Dakyn Road home was suitable for the newly named Thurnby Nirvana to progress. The club were promoted to the East Midlands Counties in 2010 and again in 2013 to the Premier Division of the United Counties League.

But the plan always seemed to leave Dakyn Road, I remember so many hoppers making a beeline for the the place with that knowledge in mind. The idea was to upgrade Hamilton Park, Leicester Nirvana’s ground, and after a a season sharing at nearby Highfield Rangers ( I passed the ground on the way), the club moved to the upgraded ground in December 2016.

By that stage though the club had reverted back to being Leicester Nirvana for a year. Now you could see that as just another name change to reflect that the club were no longer in Thurnby, but there’s a Thurnby Rangers playing at Dakyn Road plying their trade in the Leicestershire Senior League. You can draw your own conclusions!

But what is the new Hamilton Park like? Well I walked in and immediately thought of G.N.G. another Leicester-based club with a Leicestershire Senior League background. The two clubs’ clubhouses are very similar, but once outside Hamilton Park’s pitchside facilties are far superior, and unlike G.N.G., I was able to buy Samosas! It was abundantly clear that not only is this an excellent new-build but there’s plenty of scope to expand should the need arise.

I’m not sure what we learned from the action on the pitch. As lovely hosts as Whitworths were on the recent UCL Hop, they were well beaten on that day, and took another walloping here. And as good as Nirvana were, it is clear that Whitworths are having a difficult season.

It would be remiss of me to write about a UCL game and not mention John Weeks’ passing.

John had been a committee member of the United Counties league since 1989 becoming Chairman in 2003 and President in 2018. In his position as chairman of the league I got to meet him on a regular basis during the organisation and execution of each year’s UCL/PDFL hop.

He was for me the man I most associate with the United Counties League in the same way I think of the late Mark Edmonds whenever I visit a Western League club. In fact John took the time out to speak to Mark when the Western League hop was just a proposal and Mark decided to come to the “Rutland Weekend” hop to find out more.

I greatly respected the way that he would turn up at all the games on the hop over the years, not just the games involving his league. Often its difficult to get a league’s committee to watch hop games, so John’s presence with his fold-up chair was much appreciated by both Chris Berezai and I.

John was a great organiser, leader and administrator, and the UCL is better equipped, and more competitive for his tenure. More importantly he was a gentleman of the game, who seemed to have time for everyone he met. I and Robyn will miss him immensely. When next July the hop takes place and we watch our first competitive matches of the season I many others will feel his loss most keenly.

My condolences to his family and all his colleagues at the United Counties League. Rest in peace John.