England, Football, groundhopping, Harefield United, Kensington Borough, Middlesex FA ground, Rectory Park, Richard Pacquette
Monday 28th January 2019 ko 20.00
Middlesex Premier Cup- Quarter Final
KENSINGTON BOROUGH 0
HAREFIELD UNITED 6 (Clifton 9 Pacquette 30 49 Farhall 73 82 Shaw 90)
Att 47 at Pitch 1, Middlesex FA Ground, Rectory Park, Northolt
Entry & Programme £5*
I’d had no intention of returning to Northolt so soon. I’d paid the Middlesex FA Ground a visit soon after it opened last July, and while it does precisely what the local FA needs it to, I wasn’t exactly prioritising a trip to a caged 3G pitch facility whether or not you categorise ticking of the “other” pitch as a new ground. But then Talksport’s Tony Incenzo spotted this fixture, and what else was I going to do on a Monday?
The reason for the unusual location was that while Kensington Borough are affiliated to the Middlesex FA but play in Surrey, at Leatherhead FC. That’s fine for normal Combined Counties League games, but not for a Middlesex FA sanctioned competition, and where better to play the fixture than at headquarters?
The facilities have been improved even in the few short months since my last visit. The new signage is welcome but the cafe is both excellent and proved to be a good place to keep warm at half time!
If Tony hadn’t got involved in this event I’m sure there wouldn’t have been a programme. Now maybe the fact that there was attracted a few extra groundhoppers although I’m bound to say I didn’t see any of the of the usual “Programme a prerequesite” brigade. It did create a problem that the club turned the programme into “Entry including programme” but didn’t man the gate. That turned “Entry including programme” into programme for a fiver, and if you didn’t want one, there was little need make a contribution.
That saw some senior hoppers refuse to pay, and as disappointing as I found that, their failure to see the bigger picture reinforced an important lesson learned on many organised groundhops at this level and below.
A little irony of where we were was that it gave visitors Harefield United a far shorter distance to travel than their hosts! Their player manager Richard Pacquette is a real footballing journeyman. You may recall that a few weeks ago I told the story of Jefferson Louis, who counts Chesham United as his 37th different club. Pacquette counts QPR and Milton Keynes amongst what I make 34 different clubs! Now given that Louis and Pacquette are cousins and both picked up their one and only cap for Domenica together, I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that there is a “Journeyman” gene and it’s especially prevalent in their family!
He was to have an evening that managed to be both straightforward, yet incredibly frustrating. On one hand Harefield won as easily as the score suggests but the score really should have been 7-0. Pacquette had notched two goals, but 36-year-old legs and artificial surfaces often don’t mix. So with nearly an hour gone he was looking to be substituted, but then a chance came his way 18 yards out. Tired legs don’t like to run so he took aim and fairly lashed the ball into the bottom left corner.
The ball hit the frame at the back of the net and bounced back out, as Pacquette celebrated. The only problem was that neither linesman nor the referee had seen the ball cross the line, and so the goal couldn’t be given. Pacquette had the good grace not to complain too much, it didn’t alter the result, and he’s certainly played more important games. The best comment came from the Kensington bench where a coach ruefully signalled the “TV oblong” sign with his hands.
Pacquette departed the scene soon after and it was left to his replacement Lenny Farhall to pick over the bones of a dispirited Kensington team. But as well as he took his two goals, I suspect even he’s admit he could never have provided the game’s taking point!