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Saturday 1st August 2020 ko 14.30


BASILDON TOWN 3 (O’Brien 5 Smith 56 Bradbourn 89)

BARNSTON AFC 1 (Rollins 85)

Att c50 at Basildon Sport & Leisure Club

I doubt I’ll manage a quicker trip between grounds all season. Just a fence separates the Post Office Sports Ground from the Basildon Sport & Leisure Club, and while the entities are entirely separate, the gap in the fence was handy!

Like the previous ground, this is also a former works ground, some will have this place as the SELEX Ground, the Italian IT company had a base in Basildon, and when they left,  the ground became the Basildon Sport & Leisure Club.

Basildon Town moved here in 1995/6 having started life in 1946 making them the oldest club in Basildon. They originally played at Stacey’s Corner but were forced to move in 1959 when their lease ended and led something of a peripatetic existence until the move to the then SELEX ground.

They now ply their trade in the Essex Olympian League which, given the tighter restrictions announced by the FA the next Tuesday would have meant this fixture would have to have been played behind closed doors. I wonder how the FA think they’d stop people watching here and at so many other unenclosed grounds?

This game did feel a lot busier pitchside than the Pitsea game, not least as it was better publicised. Quite a few groundhoppers came up for a chat- doesn’t the North West Counties Hop seem such a long time ago? Some shook my hand so quietly afterwards I went and washed my hands and applied sanitizer.

It’s a depressing fact of life that at the moment you have to assume people are infected, even if they may have taken their responsibilities seriously. You can’t absolutely eliminate risk, and Basildon Town’s COVID plans looked well thought out, but good planning doesn’t mean personal responsibility goes out of the window. You try and do the right things, hope others will do the same, and hope that as a general population it all is sufficient. The question is where does personal responsibility end and restriction need to start? I’ve long since opined that those who offer easy blames and simple solutions usually haven’t thought the problem through.

In the end I got as much out of it as a social event as I did a football match. Social interaction is odd, I didn’t think I was missing meeting people face-to-face during lockdown but without me noticing the pressure was building and just like when Robyn and I could see family, or when the pub reopened, I felt the pressure ease off. There are so many things many of us will never take for granted again.

The game saw two step 7 clubs – Essex Olympian Premier took on Essex & Suffolk Border Premier with the hosts winning deservedly, with the usual caveat that you shouldn’t read too much into friendlies. I suspect for both clubs the chance to simply get outside and blow away a few cobwebs was manna from heaven. Oddly, and in a very parallel way I felt the same way.