Saturday 13th November 2021 ko 14:00
Berks & Bucks Intermediate “Charles Twelftrees” Trophy 1st Round
CHOLSEY UNITED 1 (Spruyt 40)
READING YMCA 1 (Adams 22)
No extra time, YMCA won 3-2 on penalties
Its funny how things work out. I knew in the morning I was going to be at the GP’s having a jab and that conveniently ended up being a vaccine in either arm. So I had no intention of travelling far, and as if by serendipity I received a message from Rob Tyler inviting me to watch Cholsey. We go back longer than either of us would like to remember, veterans of club coach travel to Oxford United away games during the start of our slide down the leagues. It means we both completed a fair chunk of the 92 without really trying but these days he’s on committee at North Berkshire League outfit Cholsey United.
You may ask why we didn’t play the place a visit during the days of the North Berkshire Hops. The reason is that they only joined the league on 2017 the year of the most recent NBFL hop, graduating from the Upper Thames Valley Sunday League. They had to use Crowmarsh Gifford’s ground for a couple of seasons while a new pavilion was built and by the time they moved home, the hop was in the Witney League.
Cholsey, near Wallingford is less than 15 miles from Oxford, and yet somehow I’ve contrived never have visited the place! In an odd way my wife Robyn has seen more of the village than I have, the train from Bristol to Didcot whizzes through here and she saw plenty of that train before she moved from Bristol to Oxford 4 years ago. Other than that, the village is also the terminus of the Wallingford & Cholsey Steam Railway, and the local cemetery has a famous resident, author and playwright Agatha Christie.
I must admit part of the attraction for me was the chance to see a North Berkshire League team up against a Thames Valley Premier League one. The reason is slightly political, the North Berks lost their Step 7 status a few years ago, while the TVPL retains theirs. Here we’d be seeing a top flight North Berks side against a top flight Thames Valley one, and I didn’t expect their to be any great difference between the two sides.
So it came to pass. We we treated to the kind of grassroots game I love to watch; well matched, committed and with no little skill too. Cholsey keeper Steve Eatwell must be sick of the sight of me though, he was the keeper knocked out playing for Wallingford at the hop game at Burghclere. Once again he was injured and had to go off but stand-in Josh Boult covered for him admirably.
In the end, a draw was the right result, but a winner had to be found, and the visitors prevailed in the shootout which did seem a little unfair on the losers.
But life carries on, and I’m sure Cholsey will carry on with what has been quite a few years of gradual improvement. Robyn and I greatly appreciated the welcome we got, and enjoyed the afternoon in what I now regard as a place that’s quintessentially North Berkshire.