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Saturday 25th June 2022 ko 15:00

Pre-Season Friendly

LINGFIELD 2 (Redfern 20 83)

CROYDON 1 (Peacock 46)

Att 81, at Coombe Field, Edenbridge (Edenbridge RUFC)

Free Entry

Football watching takes several forms, even when you break away from the “I follow my team only” principle. Some groundhoppers will only deal in competitive games, others only within certain levels of the the footballing pyramid, and others will look at what the ground looks like before committing. Others, like me will think “Here’s a game on an unusual ground, ” and that will be enough. This was one of those occasions.

If you’re the hosts, Lingfield renting Edenbridge RUFC’s ground was purely a means of looking after the pitch at their Godstone Lane Ground. With the need to fulfil ground grading, and/or take a gate removed, all that was needed was a pitch and a set of changing rooms. With that in place so long as the visiting clubs heading to Edenbridge were happy, then from their perspective then there was little more to think about. All they would do is play a series of practice games, get fit, and run the rule over the inevitable trialists. What could possibly get in the way?

Paperchasers! That’s what! Of course the game being on a ground not usually used for association rules would attract the hoppers, but in doing so it would also attract the sub-set of the hobby that has to get a programme too. I watched the exchanges on Twitter with a mixture of amusement and a wry smile. Without anyone ever meaning to we saw two opposites trying, unsuccessfully, understand the other.

On one hand you saw two football clubs simply wanting to get on with trying to get a game played, and on the other a series of programme enthusiasts who couldn’t quite understand why a teamsheet wasn’t going to appear. As one of the clubs pondered aloud, all their players would be trialists and would be expressed as such anyway! On that basis why would a programme/teamsheet/piece of paper be of any importance?

The answer is, that outside of an obsessive need it really isn’t and those who insisted on a programme probably found their game somewhere else. As it was those there could ponder what season the game fell into? The description “Pre-season” would tend to lean towards 2023/23 but FIFA rules would point out that it was still June and so 2022/3 starts on the 1st July. What is a pedant to do?

You could have, of course, just watched the game. While it was of little consequence, Lingfield’s trialists gelled slightly better than Croydon’s trialists so the result was justified. What it was, was an enjoyable afternoon out, even down to the alfresco evening meal in Westerham as we headed back towards the M25. And if our day wasn’t about enjoyment, what was it about?