Sunday 28th July 2019 ko 11.00
United Counties League Premier Division
COGENHOE UNITED 0
LOUGHBOROUGH UNIVERSITY 1 (Akpobire 32)
As the hop coach climbed up into the hills above Northampton there seemed to be a symmetry between the UCL/PDFL hop’s visit to Compton Park and my visit 15 years-or so earlier. Then I’d watched a game in the wind and rain and returned to my car soaked. It had been a good thing that I was living in Banbury back then, less than an an hour’s drive away.
Back then I’d heard Cogenhoe described as a football ground with a village attached, and certainly it’s remarkable that a small settlement like this has managed to sustain such a good level of football for so long. I did wonder whether the reason the village is so small is people find it difficult to ask for directions? It’s all to easy to ask for Cog-gen-hoe, when the correct pronunciation is Cook-Noe!!
You are in the territory of the landed gentry here. Compton Park is named after the Compton family of which currently Spencer Compton, the 7th Marquess of Northampton is the head. Incidentally Spencer Compton has been married 6 times; but at 73 perhaps he’s a little old to even things up and make it 7! The club leases the ground from the Marquess, whose ancestor Henry Compton was one of the peers presiding over the trial of Mary Queen of Scots in 1587!
Not that Compton Park had many of the trappings of royalty on a wet Sunday morning. It is, perhaps, the ultimate compromise between the needs of the club and ground gradings. The Arena stand gives the requisite number of seats, there’s floodlights, and it’s enclosed. It does want it needs to and no more, although the clubhouse is superb and speaking as an Oxford United fan our lack of a supporters’ club has damaged our sense of belonging since the Manor Ground was lost.
But in the rain there was a real sense of purpose about Cogenhoe’s hosting. I liked the prominent stand from the UCL’s “Kick It Out” anti-racism campaign who distributed wristbands, and as the crowd grew there was a real buzz about the place.
Part of me was surprised to see Loughborough University as the opponents. Perhaps I still see them as a Midland League club, and perhaps I haven’t got used to large swathes of Leicestershire in the league. Next season the plan is for the UCL Hop to take in those Leicestershire clubs so I’d better get used to it, and as and when the hop visits Loughborough University Stadium, they’ll see one of the best facilities in the league.
The game took until Kel Akpobire’s strike to burst into life but despite the paucity of goals the game was a worthy start to our Sunday and made us forget the continuing drizzle. Appropriately enough at the end I made by way out via the clubhouse. The coach had a minute or two to wait to make its way out. That was not bad thing, I wanted a little time to reflect, and there was reason to be a little nervous about our next game too.