Saturday 22nd August 2020 ko 14.00
HERSHAM FC 4 (O’Connor 28 Spencer 57 60 Long 86)
CLAYGATE ROYALS 2 (Heagney 48 Pitt 89)
Att c30 at Desborough Island, Walton-on-Thames
West of London there are no end of small islands in the River Thames, and given how easy it is to maintain privacy on any of them they do tend to be quite exclusive. Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour has a houseboat studio “Astoria” moored at Hampton and D’Oyly Carte Island, once home to Richard D’Oyly the original producer of the Gilbert & Sullivan comic operas, is close to my destination, Desborough Island.
As always, there is a catch- Desborough Island wasn’t always an island. It was created in the 1930’s by the digging of the Desborough cut, named after Lord Desborough, chairman of the Thames Conservancy. Other than creating the island the effect was to remove two meanders from the river’s stream.
The island looks uninhabited but is far from it, there is a close of gated houses, and in 2000 actress Kate Winslet bought the Pump House, next door to the waterworks in the background of quite a few of these photos with her first husband Jim Threapleton. They were only there a year, mainly because they divorced, but also because the property tended to flood whenever it rained. Perhaps the clue was the house’s name?
In 1983 Desborough Island stood in for Mississippi in 1870 for the video for Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon.” All things considered, surely the football team really ought to play in “Red, Gold and Green,” or am I over thinking this?
Two sports clubs call Desborough Island home. Weybridge Vandals rugby club (can you imagine the hoohah if a football club used that suffix?) play at the north-eastern end of the island while Hersham FC play to the north of Walton Lane along the southern edge. The club play in the Surrey County Intermediate League (Western), which is a feeder to the Surrey Elite Intermediate League which in turn feeds the Step 6 Combined Counties League Division One. The club’s place in the footballing pecking order may be fairly lowly but there’s plenty to like here over and above the celebrity references.
There is a clubhouse- closed due to Covid regulations and the clubs track and trace provision was impressive, even of the forms did get a little damp during a second half shower! Hersham’s normal pitch wasn’t in use, presumably to let the grass grow in readiness for the season. The pitch in use wasn’t the best, but I appreciated the short move, it made getting the waterworks in shot a lot easier!
The game pitched Hersham against Middlesex County League opposition, nominally at the same level, but the hosts on this occasion were just that little bit sharper- not that you should read too much into pre-season friendlies. But what a place Desborough Island is, where else could you combine Culture Club, Titanic and football? I still think they ought to play in red, gold and green though!