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Saturday 6th September 2020 ko 14.30

Anglian Combination Division 4

DERSINGHAM ROVERS 5 (Wiseman 4 Welch 41 Willams 58 Kittle 53 Livoti 88)


Att 60

Free Entry

Programme £2

It was good to see the return of competitive football, but its arrival did cause a few dilemmas. For one, I suddenly had a far greater set of possibilities in terms of what I could go and watch, but greater responsibilities too. With crowd numbers restricted I pondered whether I wanted be the reason a fan missed out on entry. I quite fancied doing something on pyramid, but wanted to see how the Covid restrictions affected league football. In the end I did something I haven’t done for a while- I indulged in a spot of paper chasing.

An oddity of the groundhopping hobby is the hopper that simply HAS to have a programme to count the ground as “Ticked.” It is a very British quirk, the German equivalent is receiving a match ticket, but it does lead to lead to tactics that haven’t used in years.

A paper chaser is the equivalent of the Twitcher in bird watching. So if an unusual bird is spotted the twitcher drops everything and heads for it. The paper chaser behaves in  a similar fashion, with the proviso that in normal times the top 6 tiers of non league football all have mandatory programme production so if a club outside of those 6 tiers happens to print…. well a strand of the hopper sudden goes all twitcher!

Bedfordshire Hop organiser Craig Dabbs would admit to liking a programme with every new ground so when he mentioned he was heading to Dersingham, my first thought was a day out with a good friend, and my second was that it involved a trip to the Anglian Combination.

I do like the league, its one of those leagues that may exist at Step 7 and below but punches way above its weight both in terms of the facilities and the quality of football on offer. With my GroundhopUK hat on we’d still love to hold a hop in the league. The issue is the league want a one-day event, and we’d like a full weekend. I’m sure there’s a compromise somewhere, but the main thing is to see off this pandemic- we’re a long way from organising anything anywhere at the moment.

To think Dersingham is to think Sandringham, you pass the Royal residence on the way in, including the road where Prince Phillip’s driving career- er, finished! The village is pretty-as-a-picture, but at the Pastures there’s something of a revival going on.

The club were in the Premier division of the Anglian Combination, but for the 2017/18 season the first XI folded and took the reserves’ place in Division 5 North. Sadly even that action didn’t allow the club to see out the season, the club folded altogether mid-season, and restarted the next season in the North West Norfolk League. They re-entered the Anglian Combination in Division 5 North last season.

But let’s revisit that programme. Like a few clubs in the area it’s produced for the club by Barnes Print. My understanding of the mechanics of it, is that it’s produced free-of-charge to the club with the printer recouping their costs via advertising within the magazine itself. The club get something to sell at all-profit, and it does tend to act as a neat way of getting people to pay something to watch the game. I treated the £2 cost as entry AND programme, even if clearly it wasn’t!

I may not treat the programme as a prerequisite for my attendance, far from it, out this does seem to be a remarkably neat way of small clubs raising additional funds. There will also be the unintended consequence of groundhoppers indulging in a spot of paper chasing, just like me! I was impressed by how well the club not only had thought about their Covid responsibilities and acted on it too. We felt safe and that’s not a given at the moment.

The game was more entertaining than the scoreline might suggest, and we did completely forget we were watching a game 12 promotions from the EFL. I’m not sure Robyn had ever watched a game this low down the pecking order! As befits a club going places Dersingham won and won well but this was a wonderful example seeing a club rebuilding. Long may it continue.