Saturday 8th May 2021 ko 14:00
Westmorland FA Senior Cup 2nd Round
SEDBERGH & DENT 4 ( Ferguson 7 42 105 Burrow 85)
KESWICK 3 (Bannister 10 Cumber 38 T Thexton 68og)
Att c20 at Church Bridge Playing Field, Dent
As most of you know I wear a few footballing hats. There’s the groundhopper, the Oxford United season ticket holder, the organiser of groundhops with GroundhopUK, and the committeeman with the North Berkshire League. I’m bound to say Sedbergh and Dent both suffer from exactly the same problem that we have at the North Berkshire League- and its all because of 1974.
That’s when England’s counties were reorganised, and North Berkshire (mostly) became South Oxfordshire, and most of the West Riding of Yorkshire and Cumberland became Cumbria. For some reason football never did take on board those changes, so the North Berkshire League has virtually no Berkshire clubs in it, and Sedbergh and Dent manage to be in both the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and in Cumbria!
To the uninitiated I normally explain the Westmorland League as being the local league for the Lake District, and I suppose the area is where the Lakes meets the Yorkshire Dales, you do pass by Lilymere lake on the way here from the M6. The feel in Dent is more James Heriot than the Lakes, though. Those of us old enough to remember “All Creatures Great & Small” on Sunday evening television will get the idea, if you imagine the titles with Christopher Timothy driving the little van through a ford with the hills as a backdrop. Mind you most of the TV series was filmed in Askrigg- around 20 miles east.
Even so Dent could still pass for Heriot’s Yorkshire Dales in the 1930’s with its cobbled streets and stone cottages. It is an achingly beautiful place to watch a game with the locals walking down to the little football ground on the banks of the River Dee. In comes as absolutely no surprise to discover there are public footpaths behind both goals, this is well and truly hiking country and one look as the views tells you why! Yes, it did take time editing down the 500 plus photos Robyn and I took!
Sedbergh Wanderers and Dent FC merged in 2019 giving the new club two grounds. Normally the reserves use Dent but with the Glebe Fold in Sedbergh undergoing pitch renovations all games are being played at the Church Bridge Playing Field in Dent. That will be for the rest of the season, and that will last for as long as the club keep winning cup games!
With my groundhopper’s hat on, there are grounds that attract a certain type of enthusiast. Some groundhoppers “Have” to see a stand, or buy a programme, lean on a rail, or worry about what level their watching. If you remove these self-inflicted restrictions you open up a whole slew of incredible possibilities and those in the know have known about Dent for a while. You should put Dent alongside the likes of Nanpean Rovers, Combe Martin and South Molton that all are just wonderful; to be honest I’m not sure why it took me this long to visit.
Perhaps seeing Keswick as the visitors helped, as they’ve been the glue that has held so many of my Lakeland football visits together. They are a lovely club, and Fitz Park is another of those places that the football romantic ought to visit. That said I do get the impression that much of the Westmorland League sees itself as a village football competition and so Keswick are seen as the big town boys. Certainly the reaction of the Sedbergh & Dent players at the final whistle did hint at that!
But forget the result for minute; what a game it was to watch- even the rain relented for a couple of hours to enjoy the action. Because all you need is two willing, well-matched sides and sometimes something magical can happen. Here it did, both sides will feel that they could have won it, the hosts did, and the draw would have been fair. And to give you an idea of just how good it was I knew I was facing a 5 hour drive home and I still wanted the extra half hour – the game deserved no less. Congratulations to both sides for producing a game those of us there will take to the grave, but still managed to only be on a par to the quite stunning little ground in the Dales.