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Sunday 20th March 2022 ko 12:15

East of Scotland League- Division One Conference B

OAKLEY UNITED 2 (Love 20 40)

EASTHOUSES LILY MINERS WELFARE 1 (Goodlad 37og)

Inglis penalty saved 44

Att 365

Entry £6

Programme £2

The final game of the Scottish Hop is an odd one. Part of me would like a second game on the Sunday but coach drivers’ hours make that impossible and I do tend to change my mind about it when I type “Oxford” into the satnav as I leave the final game; I certainly did here!

It seemed a little unusual for us not to use the Forth Bridge to get into Fife this time, not that there’s anything wrong with the Clackmannanshire Bridge. We were visiting what was once the heart of the Fife mining and ironworking, and coincidentally a real hotbed for the Junior game, but as the mines and steelworks shut so the likes of Blairhall Colliery and Steelend Victoria disappeared. Thankfully Oakley managed to buck that trend, and as we arrived at club the little ground positively brimmed with anticipation.

Quite frankly it was fun just being at Oakley and not just because as a club they took every single suggestion we’d made, put their own spin on it, and then ran the ideas superbly. Chris Berezai and I were wonderfully redundant for the afternoon, for which I’m extremely grateful. It was lovely to see Dave Edler from Hill of Beath still making the effort to support us even though his club’s game was now history. Mind you, he did get to see where Hill of Beath’s old floodlights will end up so maybe he did have his club hat on to some extent! But this was a day when every single person attached to Oakley United attacked their day with gusto, and I loved them for it.

It seems that if you want a good game just contact Easthouses Lily. Their game on the October hop was excellent, and this was too. Oakley needed the win for their promotion push, Easthouses were playing for nothing but pride and maybe that was the main difference between the two sides. That, and Lewis Inglis’ missed penalty of course!

I’ll always remember Oakley United as a fine coda to a fine event, and yes on the Friday afternoon when Craig and I drove from Inverkeithing back to Bothwellhaugh two sets of programmes short I’d have certainly settled for all that followed. Thanks to all who were involved, league, clubs, volunteers and supporters.

The whole concept of the organised hop is slowly evolving and nowhere is that more the case than Scotland due to the comparatively short length of time these events have been held. As was the case with every Scottish Hop the set of compromises that are at the core of a successful event were questioned and tested. That of course is healthy even down to me quietly accepting pies on the Scottish hop are inevitable; they are part of the tradition here, I’d like to hope the compromise is different flavours than just mince, steak or macaroni? 

That is just one example, there are many others and with very few exceptions people seem to have understood that and so every time GroundhopUK head north we all learn a little more about the other. I like that, and long may that continue.