Friday 16th September 2022 ko 19:45
Southampton Senior Cup-First Round
HEDGE END RANGERS 1 (Gould 11)
COLDEN COMMON 4 (Nash 19og Course 21 65 Ryan 51)
You do see things differently according to your perspective. If you’re a club this looked like an ideal opportunity to get a cup game played, and to show off their new ground. But for a groundhopper this was something altogether different.
Mind you even amongst the groundhoppers this one split opinions. Those who rely solely on an App didn’t see this, and those who won’t watch below Step 6 would have ignored it. But the “Paper Chasers” (those who have to have a programme) and those who are happy to watch any game so long as it was at a new ground were all over this one.
Add into the equation that it was on an unusual day and featuring that numerically finite facility- floodlights and you saw the “Professional” hoppers, those whose numbers are a long way into four digits. You don’t clock up those type of figures without a lot of commitment, and a certain amount of tactical thinking. You think I’ve clocked up a few grounds? I’m nowhere near those guys.
Hedge End is in the eastern suburbs of Southampton and was the centre of something of an incident on 22nd May 2011 when Hampshire Constabulary contacted Marwell Zoological Park for advice on how to tranquilise a white tiger lurking in long grass near here. The tiger turned out to be a life-size cuddly toy!
Hedge End were a staple of the Hampshire League playing at the Norman Rodaway Sports Ground before folding in 2017. They were quickly reformed by ex-players and entered a team in the Southampton League where they still play today. The opposition are fairly well-known to groundhoppers, being one of not many clubs in the Hampshire Premier League to produce a programme and having spent time away from their spiritual home of the Main Road Recreation Ground, at Colden Common Park.
Hedge End’s new ground is found at the back of Deer Park Secondary School in nearby Botley. Now I’m sure some there will have looked at it as a typical floodlit 3G cage will an “Arena” stand, the type of thing you can see just about anywhere. Here too there’s less than one side open for spectators, but there is more to it than just a “Roll-on Roll-off” community football facility. Inevitably it’s the tea hut that made all the difference, the ladies delivering an adventurous menu with wit and charm.
Sadly the club only printed 30 printed programmes, although there was talk of a reprint and I’m not sure how I ended up with one of them, I’m certainly not the type that sees a programme as a prerequisite, however good this one was. The game went by the form book, after Hedge End had given their visitors a real fright early on.
I left in a phlegmatic mood, I hate to see any club surprised by a larger than normal crowd, but I had my Witney Hop coming up, and I knew our three clubs would be more than adequately prepared.