Football, groundhopping, Leek Wootton, Leicestershire Police, Non League, Warwickshire Police, Woodcote Drive, Woodcote House
Tuesday 28th June 2022 ko 19:30
Combined Midland Police League- Daniel Rigley Plate Semi-Final
WARWICKSHIRE POLICE 8 (Dobson 11, 15 43, 80 Moore 74 Stanton 84 Hicks 87 O’Mahoney 88)
LEICESTERSHIRE POLICE 0
Att 10 at Warwickshire Police HQ, Woodcote Drive, Leek Wootton
Quite honestly I thought that the Sungate game was going to mark the end of my football season. I’d metaphorically put my feet up, a month had gone by but then a game popped up that was entirely out of my experience. I mean who couldn’t fancy a game competed by serving police officers at a Police HQ? And yes, I did check whether I could attend and take photos! But this site isn’t an exercise in obscurantism, this was also a competitive game at new, and unusual ground. I was always going to interested, and I’m a little surprised more groundhoppers didn’t share my opinion! Yes, I did check my car tax was up to date before I left Oxford!!!
The Warwickshire Police Headquarters is to be found in Leek Wootton, near to Kenilworth, you pass very close to Rouncil Lane former home to Kenilworth Town and now used by Kenilworth Sporting, the rebadged Coventry Plumbing. The Manor House, once Woodcote House, was once the property of MP Henry Wise. In 1852 he diverted the road which passed immediately in front of the house, creating Woodcote Lane, and this old road is still driveway today.
In 1862 Wise demolished the old house and employed noted architect John Gibson (who assisted in the design of the Houses of Parliament) to build the house you see today. Warwickshire County Council bought the property in 1948 and the police have been here ever since. The site came being close to be sold off in 2018 but the collapse of the strategic alliance between Warwickshire, and the West Mercian forces that year saw the property’s fortunes revived.
It’s not often you can watch an unlit game with a 7:30pm kick-off but that I suppose is the advantage of summer football! To answer the questions my reader hasn’t asked, yes this is a wholly police tournament that runs from April to July. Teams are from the Midlands Constabularies, with two sections, East and West.
The leagues provide qualifiers for two cup semi-finals. The first, the Rob Ling Shield is named after DC Ling who was fatally injured in South Africa on 7 October 2002 when an unmarked police car overturned while he was escorting two murder suspects as they were extradited. He was 27.
The other is for the Daniel Rigley Plate. Daniel, the cousin of a serving police officer, died of Leukaemia aged just 8 this year. The tournament marks the 20th anniversary of DC Ling’s death and aims to raise money for the charity Young Lives vs Cancer.
So what was it like? The answer is no different to any amateur game, in much the same way the London Underground, or the military leagues feature players who are their occupations first and are footballers second. You get players like Tom Dobson who could get paid for playing semi-pro football, and others who, in all honesty- couldn’t.
It was entertaining, if rather one-sided as Warwickshire booked their place at the finals day at Ilkeston Town’s New Manor Ground where they were to win the plate beating Northants, but Leicestershire qualified for the Ling Shield and they won too, beating West Midlands Police. Many will remember West Midlands Police for their stint in the Midland Combination from 1969 to 2014. Their ground, the Tally Ho is still in use, and this competition is a good excuse to pay the place a visit!
The league has its own Facebook and Twitter accounts.