With the football season over prematurely due to the Coronavirus Pandemic I’m in the unusual position of actually having this blog up to date! So to keep the content coming, and for something to do, I’ll do some old grounds and games where there’s a story to tell.
Wednesday 4th November 2009 ko 14.00
B.U.C.S. League Midlands Conference Division 1A
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY 4 (Stock 6 81 Rutt 66 Johnson 70p)
OXFORD BROOKS UNIVERSITY 0
Att 14 at Fenner’s, Cambridge.
Being from Oxford, the assumption that there’s some sort of rivalry between my home town and Cambridge is something of an occupational hazard. The assumption that there’s any kind of rivalry between either Oxford United and Cambridge United or Oxford City and Cambridge City is partly erroneous, as the rivalry is purely between the two universities. The 4 clubs mentioned represent the “Town” part of the two cities where there is no rivalry, but of course it’s a different story in the “Gown” parts of the cities!
The oddity of Oxford and Cambridge University’s provision for football is that neither club has its own ground. Oxford University tends to play inter-university games at Iffley Road which is fundamentally an athletics stadium, sadly the Rugby Union ground next door hasn’t been used for a football match since 1950. For the record we did try to get a North Berkshire League Hop game there back in the day. OURFC rather pointedly ignored our requests.
At Cambridge University football matches are split between two sites. The end of the season sees games played at the University Rugby Union ground at Grange Road, including the inter-collegiate “Cuppers” final, itself a game and ground well worth visiting. The start of the season sees games played at the University Cricket ground- Fenner’s, and that is wonderful, if unusual place to watch a game.
The ground dates from 1848 and has hosted first-class cricket ever since. It was named after Francis Fenner who leased the former cherry orchard and created the ground for his alma mater. It has been a proving ground over the years for young players, with 10 cricketers going on to captain their countries. How many can you name? Answer after the photos.
Even with a tiny crowd on my visit, you cannot help but feel the history, even the briefest of looks at the honours boards tells you all you need to know about what this place means. Now there are no end of cricket grounds that stage football, the former football ground at Northamptonshire CC being a prime example. They don’t tend to be easy bedfellows, and they aren’t here.
The pitch was marked out at one end of the outfield and there was no chance to use any of the spectator accommodation, but then with a crowd of 14 why would you need to?
The game saw Cambridge win easily against their rather ill-tempered visitors from next-door to my secondary school. I’m not sure why I videoed the penalty, moving pictures isn’t really my thing, but since I did, you may as well see it. Who said YouTube was full of rubbish?
The sadness of this visit is so few groundhoppers seek out Fenner’s despite all that history, albeit the history is of cricket. I know student football isn’t for everyone but if you’re going to break your duck (so to speak!) then here’s a wonderful place to start.
The ten captains are Norman Yardley, George Mann, Freddie Brown, Peter May, Ted Dexter, Tony Lewis, Mike Brearley and Mike Atherton ( all England), Deryck Murray (West Indies) and Majid Khan (Pakistan)