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Tuesday 18th August 2020 ko 19.00

KING’S SUTTON 2 (Walker 1 Moore 89)

HOOK NORTON 1 (Rickard 53)

Att c30 at Wheeler’s Rise, Croughton

If King’s Sutton had played this game at home I’ve little doubt I’d have been there. But with work taking place on the pitch, they’re playing their pre-season friendlies a few miles south-east at Croughton Playing Fields. Since there’s been no adult team at Croughton for a couple of years, it was enough to see some of the more senior groundhoppers take advantage of a rare opportunity to tick the ground.

I’m sure the name Croughton will ring a bell and probably for all the wrong reasons. There are sadly a few places such as Soham that are associated with tragedy, and I fear the same has befallen this pretty Northamptonshire village. Nearby is RAF Croughton, now entirely taken over by the USAF’s 422nd Air Base Group.

It was from this base that in August 2019 that a serviceman’s wife Anne Sacoolas was driving the wrong side of the B4031 near the base, and collided with motorcyclist Harry Dunn killing him. Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity via her serviceman husband who worked at the base and in haste flew back home to the USA. She has been charged by causing death by dangerous driving, but so far all attempts to force her back to the UK to face justice have come to nothing. A drive from the A43 to Croughton is a sobering experience with a memorial to Dunn still in situ, and road signs both official and home-made reminding visiting drivers to drive on the left.

I’ve included the Wheeler’s Rise address at the top as I’m not sure you’d find the place without that knowledge; as well appointed as the place is, it’s on the edge of the village beyond a close of houses. Once you’ve found the place, its a lovely place to watch a game.

A major attraction for me was Hook Norton’s presence. They did a superb job opening up the inaugural Witney Hop last year and while last season was expunged they’ve found themselves a division higher, in Division One, the league’s second tier. They were up against a King’s Sutton side nominally one notch higher in football’s pecking order, the Premier Division of the Banbury, District & Lord Jersey League.

As perhaps you’d expect there wasn’t much between the two sides. King’s Sutton scoring in the first and last minutes, the goals book-ending an entertaining game. The final treat was a quite stunning sunset before we drove back to the A43 and were reminded all over again of the tragedy that befell this pretty village.

Postscript. 27th August 2020

Newly formed Longford Park FC will be using the Wheeler’s Rise Ground this coming season. They’ll be in Division Two of the Banbury, District & Lord Jersey League.