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Saturday 18th September 2021 ko 17:00

Witney & District League- Premier Division

HANBOROUGH 2 (Molton 40 55)

HAILEY 3 (Buckingham 70 Kimber 73 Foster 83)

Wood penalty saved 27

Att 161

Entry by programme £4

For me half the fun of a return to Roosevelt Way was revisiting an old stamping ground. In the mid-1990’s I was an Insurance Agent round this parts, so was well used to all the Blenheim references, Churchill Way is just the other side of Church Road (the route to Church Hanborough) from Roosevelt Way. Come to think of it there’s whole new estate been built along Church Road since I was in my late twenties!

If ever there was a club nailed on to be part of this year’s Witney Hop it was Hanborough; they’d been in touch from the get-go and would have been on a previous hop, had it not been for the small issue of them not being in the Witney League- they were in the Oxon Senior League. They are the kind of club that I could trust completely with their staging, and let them just get on with it. It was, therefore a surprise when they had a real issue with their programmes.

The procedure is that I collect a number of each clubs’ programmes on the Thursday evening before the event to make up the prebooked ticket holders’ packs. I arrived at West Witney Sports & Social Club as arranged, collected the other clubs’ programmes, but Hanborough had been let down by the printer.

Or rather the printer was let down by the courier. So for most of the next day manager Chris Doyle and I spent our spare moments watching a pack of 200 programmes slowly visiting various villages in West Oxfordshire on the courier’s online tracking.  I had the pdf should they not turn up at all as a backstop, but eventually Chris Berezai picked up the GroundhopUK copies en route from Long Eaton and we put the packs together double quick time. Of course none of this should reflect badly on Hanborough, but thank heaven for that 24 hours buffer time!

On one level it would have tempting to have simply produced 5 programmes on behalf of the host clubs; we did that for Cassington due to their lack of volunteers. I don’t like to do that, I like to see the programme carry advertising to, at worst pay for its production, but also be a vehicle for the club to put their personality on things. Here the programme was worth the delay, it was a rather dinky square effort- quite the talking point. 

I must admit I did think back to my other visit here That was eight years’ ago when the now defunct West Witney blew the chance to win the league here. West Witney may have folded 5 years ago but they do still influence me, I tend to use their old base at West Witney Sports & Social Club as a base for hop meetings!

We had time before kick-off, and that allowed people who’d been at local games to reach us at Roosevelt Way. That helped to boost the attendance, and it was lovely to see people from North Leigh, Bampton Town, and of course John at Ducklington. Hopefully those there will see the opportunity, and grasp it in years to come.  Also present was another friend of the hop, Jim Littlewood and a delegation from Milton-under-Wychwood FC, and I’m sure he quietly compared what he saw here with what his club did two years’ ago. That wouldn’t have been easy, both clubs’ staging was excellent. 

The pies were as popular as the cliché about hot pies would suggest, whilst hoping the clubs on the forthcoming Scottish Hop don’t read this and take that as a hint that’s all we want to eat- 6 x pies isn’t likely to be popular! What was extremely popular was the real ale tent from the Church Hanbrewery, and let’s face it, you are unlikely to drink a more local pint!

I’d been told that the game vs Hailey was likely to be both feisty and a classic, and that’s exactly what happened. I’m sure Chris Doyle will be disappointed in his charges surrendering a two goal lead but for the crowd watching it was a wonderful spectacle to watch and an excellent finale for the day. 

As I waited to board the bus a hopper travelling under his own steam approached me and rather pointedly said, “I’ll see you tomorrow- AFTERNOON.” I knew what he meant, and headed back to Oxford pondering the forthcoming Sunday fixtures.