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Saturday 12th October 2019 ko 14.45

Bedfordshire County League Division 3

LANCOT PARK 5 (Wilson 38 75 Nolan 41 Douglas 60p Wrench 87)

LUTON ALLSTARS 1 (Katcombe 34)

Grey penalty saved 17

Att 118

Free Entry

Programme £2

We left Luton’s environs for the last game of this year’s Bedfordshire Hop. Maybe it was because I’d long since committed to the whole event but when organiser Craig Dabbs mentioned Lancot Park, I’d recognised the name but failed to place why. Sadly for the hop I seemed to be the only one with amnesia!

The issue organiser Craig Dabbs had is that Lancot Park used to be home to Old Dunstablians FC. That club played in the Spartan League (later the Spartan South Midlands League) from 1994 to 2009. At that point they changed names to AFC Dunstable, moved to share Creasey Park with Dunstable Town and now play in the Southern League.

Just about any groundhopper can imagine what happened when it became known that Old Dunstablians were on the move. I like many others dived to the ground to get it done, and my concern as I headed to Lancot Park was how many hoppers that were present at Stopsley would be in the same position as me and decide to either head for home or a late kick-off at British Airways?

In the end the attendance suggests that a few did, which is real shame. For one the facility is excellent with the added interest of former England cricketer Monty Panesar having played here regularly in his youth. But much more than that, Lancot Park the club were superb hosts.

It started the moment we parked up stepped out of the car. There was the most wonderful aroma of curry, so like the Bisto Kids we followed the scent to the clubhouse and indulged! But to look at Lancot Park’s hosting as a group of superlatives would be to slightly miss the point. Yes, I am a sucker for a cupcake with a club badge on it, but just like the last time I spotted such an item, back at Hook Norton, this was a hosting that was all about charm.

A smile will take you a long way, and so will a tannoy announcer who clearly was enjoying just being the voice of the club for a couple of hours. I sat on a bench, watched and just enjoyed being in the moment. I don’t get to do that very often on the organised hops.

It helped that the game was hugely enjoyable, being the kind of local level game where neither side can entirely shut the other down so you inevitably get an entertaining game. With Lancot Park’s hosting this good though, it was hard to maintain my neutrality.

It was a hugely enjoyable day out, and congratulations and thanks should go to the participating clubs, the league and the legions of volunteers who made it all happen. Over and above that organiser Craig Dabbs should regard this day as a personal triumph as for me this was the best Bedfordshire Hop I’ve attended.

I know it isn’t easy organising these events, and that goes double if you’re doing it at local level so that should be how Craig’s success should be framed. I’d like to think there’ll now be a queue of clubs asking him the question any organiser loves to hear.

“So… when are you visiting us?”