Tuesday 16th July 2019 ko 19.45
KNAPHILL 1 (14)
At King’s Academy, Binfield
There are plenty of groundhoppers who don’t like pre-season friendlies, and I completely understand their point of view. My take on it is to try to find something unusual in the fixture; it could be an inter-league match-up or an unusual ground. Here we managed both!
If you’re from my part of the world probably the most hopper-friendly club around is Binfield. Monday night Hellenic Premier football, programmes, and just being thoroughly decent people. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to wish them well. I try to see at least one game of there’s a season, and no this one doesn’t count!
Here Robyn and I found ourselves around a mile away from Binfield’s normal home at Stubbs Hill at the King’s Academy. The school is new, only open since last September and has a floodlit 3G pitch as part of a wide range of sports facilities. Little wonder Binfield made use of it, why create wear and tear on your home pitch when you’re got this available?
The opposition was Combined Counties Premier outfit Knaphill, a good match with the clubs in parallel divisions and there was the added bonus of Long Wittenham’s Darren Hill as referee too. Darren is well known in the area, he comes with the distinction of being affiliated to the Army FA rather than the normal Berks and Bucks, or Oxfordshire FA’s you tend to see around these parts. Hoppers will remember him from games at East Hendred and on last season’s Hellenic Hop at Newent Town.
He was excellent in both of those games and was excellent once again here. And at times he needed to be as in a fiery encounter a calm head and judicious use of “Cooling off substitutions” proved to be useful tools in the referee’s armoury.
Knaphill won it, mainly due to a forward who was demonstrably better than anyone else on the pitch that evening. That won’t have worried Binfield unduly, and Robyn and I departed the scene rather looking forward to our next visit to Stubbs Lane.