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.
Sunday 27th August 2006 ko 11.00
Hellenic League- Premier Division
HARROW HILL 0
SLIMBRIDGE 1 (C Cole)
As (hopefully) the UK slowly emerges from lockdown I’ve started to think about how football will restart. I don’t include the monstrosity that is the beautiful game played behind closed doors with cardboard cut-out crowds and piped in noise. I’ll leave that to the hellish future it deserves. One thing that is clear is that the bigger the potential crowd a league can generally attract the longer it’ll take to get the crowds back, so let’s extrapolate a little.
Since the featured game here was on a GroundhopUK event let’s look at the organised hop first. Our next offering WE HOPE will be the rescheduled Scottish Hop in October but let’s face it, no one can plan spectator football with any degree of confidence at the moment. We hope it will take place, but the important word in that last phrase is “Hope.” I know Chris has been talking to league officials and those discussions continue, but as I write I’m hearing that some leagues will have difficulties even playing a truncated 2020/21 season, and in any case there is no way we will be organising any event unless it is safe to do so.
But even outwith an event who lets face aims normally to contravene just about every social distancing rule you can think of I can see that the first football matches may well be the type where crowds aren’t normally factored in. I see this a lot in my work with the off-pyramid North Berkshire League. You read our handbook or that of any other league like us and you’ll see no reference to crowds. Could you maintain social distancing at an off pyramid game? In almost every case yes I would have thought, once it becomes safe for the players, then by a process of elimination surely a crowd of 50 or so becomes possible?
Now that thought is going to put a few groundhoppers’ noses out of joint. Because the oft-uttered phrase “I’m just doing Steps 1-6 now” could easily mean that no football is available to them at least in the short term. So here’s my idea for a groundhopping compromise, do some grounds that are superb, but these days are now below Step 6. And that is where Harrow Hill comes in…..
These days the team plays in Division One of the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League after resigning from the Hellenic during the 2009/10 season. For the avoidance of any doubt this isn’t the Harrow Hill Rovers who had a one season stint (2000-1) in the Hellenic before deciding they’d rather be Hounslow Borough. Nor are they anything to do with Harrow on the Hill or indeed anything to do with London!
In fact the name Harrow Hill is a corruption of Harry Hill. Back in the day the hill in the Forest of Dean was named after its owner but gradually became corrupted to become Harrow Hill. And since clearly the club has a sense of humour, their nickname is “Harry Hill” and they sent a club badge to comedian Harry Hill who apparently wore it on a episode of “TV Burp!”
The ground would grace the Hellenic if Harrow Hill ever returned there. It reminds me of another ground at the top of a hill, Nailsworth’s Shortwood United, except in Harrow Hill the ground couldn’t be easier to find- the floodlights are visible everywhere in the village.
Of course the sadness of the piece is that Harrow Hill are at least 2 promotions from the Division One of the Hellenic and being in the Forest of Dean you are close enough to the Welsh border for plenty of clubs in the Welsh League (as was) to be closer than their potential rivals in the Hellenic. I suspect that playing Gloucestershire-only football rather suits the club as it stands.
But what a ground it is. The little stand, the hill giving an amazing view of the pitch and the farm behind, and the tree-lined end- there’s something for everyone here. In fact the sadness was when I started going through these photos and saw people who due personal circumstances we don’t see on the hops much these days and in one case is no longer with us.
Please let us get back to normal as soon as is possible, or whatever the new normal is. Please stay safe.