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Sunday 23rd May 2021 ko 10:30

Upper Thames Valley Sunday League


CHILTON BLUE & WHITES 5 (Stevens 12 Burton 45 Kerry 56 Ayres 77 Mangan 90)

Stevens missed penalty 41

Att 48

Free Entry

Back in the day I was working as a financial adviser and one evening I had an appointment in Tackley. It wasn’t a push to get me there, I lived in Banbury and the village is roughly equidistant on the A423 between there and Oxford. I pulled up outside the Village Hall and as I went to my customer saw Tackley FC about to kick off a Witney & District League League game. I didn’t get much out of that appointment but I did make a mental note to visit the ground properly.

Tackley is a village of oddities; it has a railway station on the line from Oxford to Birmingham when far larger Kidlington on the same line lost theirs under Beeching. Then there’s the two pubs that survive here when the village has less than 1,000 residents, and the village store in the village store that does a very well thought out coffee and a hot sausage roll for £3. In fact more on sausages later.

These days Tackley play only Sunday football which is a little odd given the huge footprint the UTVL covers. Tackley represents the league’s northern outpost, but Didcot Casuals play at the Triangle , Green Close nearly 30 miles south and I’ve seen a UTVL game at Checkendon a further 13 miles away. Surely playing in the Witney League would be easier?

I must admit I don’t watch much Sunday football, probably due to some fairly high distances travelled on Saturdays, and I must admit when I planned this one I was shocked to see the UTVL is now just a single division, 10 years ago there were 4. There was an added bonus too; there was plenty riding on the game!

That didn’t extend to Tackley and as befits the last game of the season, playing positions were picked out of a hat. But for Chilton, who play out of the former Harwell International ground needed a win to force a shoot out next Saturday at home against Greater Leys Yellow. All things considered an away win looked the most plausible result, but things didn’t go entirely to plan. 

Some games I approach as a more as reporter, others more as a photographer, and I must admit this one I planned as more the latter. However the morning ended up being more than just a photographic project even if a photo did create the most wonderful coincidence. I usually put a snap on my Instagram account, and I’ve learned to keep the ideas of that platform relatively simple.

So I put up a picture of a couple watching the game from a park bench- there’s a version below between the pictures of the club linesmen. It turns out that couple were Tackley player Jamie Baughan’s parents, visiting from Devon where they run –Westaway Sausages– please tell me their produce is in those sausage rolls!

But this was all about whether randomised Tackley could stop the Chilton juggernaut. The score will tell you they couldn’t but for a while they didn’t half frustrate them! Ashley Stevens gave the visitors a lead they clearly deserved but they failed to capitalise on it, and when a long cross snaked its’ way into the box from the left there was Tom Wynn to equalise and the visitors were clearly rattled. Stevens missed a penalty and it took Brandon Burton’s fine strike on the stroke of half time to settle their nerves. 

From then on Chilton steadily tightened their grip on the game, and as enjoyable as it was the result was never really in doubt. Perhaps everyone got what they wanted from this. Robyn and I were royally entertained, Tackley got an enjoyable final game of the season and Chilton set up a tilt for the championship next week. Perhaps I’d better make plans for Sunday morning.