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Saturday 14th September 2019 ko 13.30

Witney & District League – Premier Division

MINSTER LOVELL 2 (Fletcher 30 Wright 39)

CARTERTON 3 (Threlfall 46 85p Rogers 61)

Att 126

Entry & Programme £4

I’d actually managed to relax on the journey from Milton-under-Wychwood as we slowly made our way south. We bumped our way down on Britain’s byways passing by Leafield; it seemed barely plausible that F1’s Arrows team used to be based here, and the plant is still a Formula 1 research facility.

Eventually we reached Minster Lovell, that you see on a map and see it as little more than a suburb of Witney but on arrival you see how distinct it is. The village is famous for its Minster, founded by William Lovel in the 12th Century. Lovel’s descendant Lord Francis Lovell founded Minster Lovell Hall around 1440, but soon found himself on the wrong side in the Wars of the Roses.

The Wars between the Lancastrian Plantagenets and the Yorkists were finally settled in 1485 in the Battle of Bosworth Field where Richard III of York became the last English Monarch to die in battle. Two years later Francis Lovell was on the side of the Yorkist rebellion at the Battle of Stoke Field. The Yorkists were routed, and Lovell disappeared.

Theories abounded as to what happened to him, but in 1708 the skeleton of a man was found in a secret chamber at Minster Lovell, having apparently starved to death.. Was it him? I suppose we’ll never know for certain….

The Hall lies just beyond Wash Meadow with the River Windrush meandering past one edge of the facility, destine for Witney then on to its confluence with the Thames. It’s why if you’re the kind of hopper that counts pitches then do come here regularly as Minster Lovell mark their pitch at the driest part of the Meadow. The pitch where we were doesn’t tend to be used in January- you could say we were playing in the wet patch!!

If there was one personal regret on this hop I wish I’d set the kickoff here a little later. I don’t think anyone missed the start but the club’s staging was excellent, and I’d have liked them to have a little more time with a captive audience! Because although I’ve been on more than a few hop games, the sale of foam fingers to wear and chilli dogs to eat was exactly the kind of clever thinking that gets people to spend money when they don’t have to. Well done Minster Lovell!

On my previous visit to Wash Meadow there were just two of us brandishing a camera, even though the game 6 years ago saw Minster Lovell take the Division One title. Then, as now it was a pleasure to catch up with master snapper Tony Bull, and I’m sure he’ll look at my efforts and wince! All the best Tony and keep doing what you’re doing.

The game was interesting over and above just being two well-matched local teams. I know that some wondered what relationship Carterton FC have with the two Carterton sides that both played Hellenic League football in the past. The answer is very little, the side played as FC Hollybush last season, and changed names when moving into the vacant Kilkenny Lane for this season.  I do wonder what appetite, or potential attendance there would be for a Friday night game in a future hop?

Here the new Carterton Fc won, but Minster Lovell will wonder how on earth they managed to let a two-goal lead slip. But for the many neutrals there is was superb entertainment, and as I headed back to the minibuses I allowed myself a smile, I knew what John Smyth had planned at Ducklington would be superb.