Saturday 31st October 2020 ko 14.00
Anglian Combination Division One
WYMONDHAM TOWN 3 (Tuttle 62p 71 Woodcock 90)
NORWICH UNITED 2 (Diggens 57 Middleton 85)
Just like in March I could feel the walls closing in, Oxford had just moved to the more restrictive Tier 2 Covid restrictions, and I ended up taking advice on firstly whether I could make this trip, and then whether I ought to. I ended up picking a game, like those that had gone before, that was in an area of low infection, and somewhere I could easily maintain social distancing. I also wanted a game without floodlights; with clocks now on GMT a 2pm kick-off would get Robyn and I back to Oxford early enough to spend time with friends wrapped up against the cold, outside in the pub garden, for a beer or two . As the landlord put it at the time, with all the new restrictions it seemed easier to lock down altogether.
The original idea was to visit a friend, Shaun Cole’s Bungay Town were scheduled to be at East Harling. That has the added bonus of being virtually adjacent to the English Whisky Distillery, but we couldn’t get on a tour there, and the game was called off due to a Covid outbreak in Bungay. My best wishes to all concerned.
So Wymondham, or phonetically Windum, it was. You can’t help but notice the twin towers of the 12th century Benedictine Abbey…. or is it? The reason why there’s two towers is due to a dispute between the monks and townsfolk, to such an extent that in the end Pope Pope Innocent IV gave an end to each faction and they built their own towers!
Wymondham was the seat of Kett’s Rebellion in 1549, a protest at the enclosure of agricultural land. Yeoman Robert Kett, would have been expected to have been in opposition to the rebels, but ended up leading them. The insurrection was serious enough for Norwich to fall to the rebels, and it took an army of 14,000 to put down the rebellion. Robert Kett was hanged from the walls of Norwich Castle and his brother William from the west tower of Wymondham Abbey.
There’s a sense of history about Kings Head Meadow, as Wymondham Town have played here since their formation in 1883, and dear reader this would have been a wonderful place to photograph but for one detail- it absolutely hammered down for much of the game. My long lens lost its autofocus, and Robyn struggled with her photos too. What you see here is what I could salvage!
So once more we were at an Anglian Combination game, except this time I was watching the second tier, rather than the fifth! Other than the foul weather there was one small issue, and it comes from the best of reasons.
The Anglian Combination has taken Covid extremely seriously to the point that teams no longer exchange team line-ups on paper before the game. The rule now is that clubs email their line-ups the night before and then inform their opponents of any changes to that email on arrival at the ground. It is a sensible approach, and since I have no desire to break social distancing guidelines I’ve relied on the FA Full time and social media sites for details of goal scorers and so on. Here I rather met my match with Wymondham’s final goal scorer…. I’ll update the result as and when I find out!
It was one of those games where you would have missed very little (save for a soaking!) if you’ve have turned up at half time. It took a goal to open play up and once Diggens fired home for the visitors, we were treated to the most wonderful topsy- turvy game you could ever hope to watch. Wymondham nicked the points through person unknown in stoppage time, to cap a quite wonderful last third of the game.
And as if to signal its approval the weather finally relented, and the most beautiful rainbow appeared over the town. Football at we found out later may have been heading towards an enforced break but this was a memorable way to head towards it.
Postscript 5th December 2020
Thanks to Jack Smith and Chris McCullough at the Anglian Combination for supplying the Wymondham goalscorers.