Tuesday 11th October 2022 ko 19:45
Hinchingbrooke Cup 1st Round
EATON SOCON 3 (R Baxter 25 Reece-Brown 57 B Roberts 90)
NETHERTON UNITED 1 (Mead 4)
Entry and Programme £5
I have a nasty feeling I’ve passed Eaton Socon by no end of times without every really considering the place. You’re just off the A1 here, one roundabout north of the Black Cat, in what is traditionally Huntingdonshire, administeratively in Cambridgeshire, but the club played in the Bedfordshire League until this season. Yes, you are in border country, and very much in St Neots’ environs, and that location means the town grew up as Stage Coach overnight stopping point, even earning a mention in Charles Dickens’ novel “Nicholas Nickelby” as Eton Slocomb!
This season there’s been no lack of new grounds to Step 6 and in recent years the tendency has been towards the caged 3G and “Arena” stand set-up. Those are excellent community assets but do little to stir the senses. The Eaton Socon Sports Association however is more than a little different, and that doesn’t just mean that wonderful “England 1966” clock in the clubhouse either!
No, this this a place that has been built organically, or using less romantic language, by sheer hard work. The pitch has been rotated, shelter provided, and those floodlights are LED, for which my camera gives thanks. Or putting it another way, this is a club where you’ll give thanks for all the little things being done really well. And those little things do add up!
The Hinchingbrooke Cup was established in 1894 as a charity cup for clubs playing in Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire to raise funds for Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, and these days is open to teams competing at steps 5-7 of the national league pyramid system.
That last rule made this tie interesting. Many will remember Netherton United from their appearance on the UCL/PDFL Hop in 2014 and perhaps a little surprisingly they still play in the PDFL’s top flight; they seemed capable of more when GroundhopUK visited. So Step 7 visited Step 6 and the game showed the difference between the levels in microcosm. There wasn’t much in it, and Netherton gave Socon an almighty shock by scoring early on, but is time went by the hosts’s extra quality showed, and eventually the final score became an accurate representation of how the game had played out.
But I must admit I walked away at the end, smiling more at the ground. I love to see a club create something under their own steam.