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Saturday 23rd October 2021 ko 15:00

Eastern Counties League- Premier Division

WOODBRIDGE TOWN 1 (Sinclair 29)

MULBARTON WANDERERS 2 (Henerley 64p Thompson 78)

Att 134

Entry £8

Programme £1

Badge £3.50

I’m sure my regular reader has spotted a trend here. The modus operandi is to leave Oxford, pick Chris Garner up in Wavendon, then visit an Eastern Counties League game. We’ve been doing it a while now, and its been handy that the league has expanded to three divisions and there’s been a fair turnover of both clubs and grounds in the league in the last few years. And so when Robyn, Chris and I planned this trip to Notcutts Park, I had absolutely no reason to think this would be anymore than another enjoyable tick in this league. 

All too often its the quiet tragedies that are the most painful, and this one could have easily gone unnoticed had I not spotted an unusual role in the club’s committee on their website. It’s that of “Relocation Officer” as the club have to vacate their ground in 2024. The ground is leased from East Suffolk Council, who in turn lease the land from Notcutts Nurseries Limited. That lease expired in 2015 but the club did negotiate a further 10 year lease but the clock is ticking on that as the landlords have made it clear the lease will not be extended. 

They’ve looked at derelict nursery,  also owned by Notcutts at Yarmouth Road, Ufford, but that seems to have come to nothing so The Peckers are looking elsewhere, and the clock still ticks. You see the new houses going up all around the ground, and was I only one there why no space can be found within it all for a community football club?   I paid my £8 and within seconds felt the tragedy was being compounded by what’s here. 

For this is a superb facility and with no end of space to add community 3G pitches and other leisure facilities, but no the imperative here is clearly just houses. I wonder if, if twenty years’ time when all that you see in the photos has been destroyed, will someone in those houses comment, “I wish we had a football club here?” I could so easily quote Joni Mitchell here…

I enjoyed Woodbridge’s company on a day where Autumn was just beginning to make its presence felt. Sometimes it’s the little things that endear, such as the most formal team line-ups announcement I’ve ever heard or the box junction markings so that you can watch the game and queue up for a tea at the same time. Don’t you just love it when you see someone has thought in depth about what their doing. 

In my eyes this added up to a game between two clubs I have a lot of time for. We enjoyed Mulbarton’s company a couple of months ago and they won an odd encounter here, mainly because they were better at finishing off the chances they created. I say odd, because the game saw 9 booked, yet at no point did I feel the game rose above being anything other than competitive. In fact I’d seen a tougher game the previous evening at Southall! Perhaps the referee felt the best way to control the game was to use his yellow card as a first resort? 

I’m sure groundhoppers will read this and make Woodbridge Town a priority which is no bad thing; hopefully that will swell the club’s coffers. But I also hope that when they take their leave of this friendly club and their well-appointed home, they’ll feel as I did, and wonder why on earth this place is being destroyed?