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Saturday 5th October 2019 ko 12.30

Western League Premier Division

BRADFORD TOWN 2 (Pollard 38 69p)


Att 311

Entry £6

Programme £1

The coach slowed down as we reached the outskirts of Bradford-On-Avon, the narrow streets in a well-to-do town aren’t ideal for such a large vehicle. I felt a tinge of irony in that, one of Bradford’s famous sons is Alex Moulton, the inventor of the Moulton bicycle and the suspension on Alec Issigonis “Mini” car. What do those inventions have in common? Small wheels, and those would have been handy here!

But for all that I remembered a conversation I’d had many years ago with an old lady, and since she’s no longer here I can tell the story. In the time before the welfare state, she got pregnant whilst unmarried and was quickly squirrelled away to a home in Bradford-on-Avon to see out her pregnancy and give birth. The child was adopted soon afterwards and the mother returned to her home town soon afterwards with no access too her child and no counselling.

Many years later she found her child living not far from her and for the last few years of her life the two built up a relationship. One day I was tasked with driving mother and biological daughter back to that house in Bradford-on-Avon, now a private dwelling. I’ll never forget the look on the lady’s face when saw saw that house again after 60-plus years and I’ll never be able to guess what was going through her mind at that moment.

As tended to be the case in the Western Hop I’d visited Bradford Town before. Here like Portishead Town previously I’d visited in May 2007, I was clearly have a blast at grounds in the Western League that didn’t have floodlights back then. Here’s what is was like then.

And to be honest I hadn’t expected to return. Bradford turned the whole hop idea down pretty much as soon as Mark Edmonds had pitched the idea to them so we were very pleasantly surprised when Jules French reported to us that that there’s been a change of heart. And as good at that news was it did make me slightly worried. It meant, that like Roman Glass St George, and Wellington the club had never been involved in a hop game, so wouldn’t have gained the experience of being involved, and less importantly any groundhop organiser likes to see all the clubs both host and be a visiting team. Clearly that didn’t happen here and I did wonder whether that lack of experience would hamper Bradford?

The answer was a resounding “No”, and hearing a couple of Yorkshire-based hoppers chortle made me smile. They’d seen the club’s food offering was curry, and could see their point. Let’s face it, curry is easily obtained in the Yorkshire version of Bradford! For the record the Wiltshire Bradford curry was superb, and I can now say I’ve has a curry in both Bradfords! Over and above than that club hosted beautifully and the improvements to the ground are remarkable; no longer is the ground an obvious graduate from county football.

It was one of those lovely occasions when all I had to do was count the crowd and enjoy the game. On last season’s hop Clevedon Town were wonderful hosts so it was sad to see them lose here, although there was no disgrace in losing to the side that are top of the league as I type this. I hope that the difficulties they continue to have over their ground are resolved and the club can move forward.

As for Bradford I hope they enjoyed their hop game and found it a worthwhile exercise. I’m still not sure why they turned Mark down back in the day or what changed their minds? Perhaps I shouldn’t worry about it, as in the end we got there, and I’d like to think they did well from us being there. I will certainly follow their progress with no little interest.