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Tuesday 15th November 2022 ko 19:45

National League South


HAVANT & WATERLOOVILLE 3 (Faal 12 Roberts 22 28p)

Att 503

Entry £14

Programme £3

It is a fact of life that in your 50’s you tend to go to more funerals than weddings. I find saying goodbye to someone who’s led a long and happy life a bearable, and sometimes cathartic process, but when it involves a life cut short well, that’s a different matter entirely. Robyn and I had spent the day attending such a funeral in Bristol and we ended up in Chippenham in no small part wanting to clear our minds of the day’s sorrow.

My regular reader will, I’m sure opine “Hasn’t he been to Hardenhuish Park before?” and the answer is yes (Chippenham Town 0 Welling United 3 29th April 2003) my wife Robyn hadn’t and with the frame of mind we were in, we just wanted something to entertain us for a couple of hours. 

There is a lot to like about Chippenham Town, and a lot of it is down to the way the club has progressed over the years. The club played in the Western, then the Hellenic Leagues until 2001, then in the Southern League until 2014 when promotion to the National League South was achieved. Look at Hardenhuish, and particularly the main stand, and you can see how the ground has been expanded on each promotion. Those “Arena” stands were added since my last visit.

But people make clubs, not bricks and mortar, so it was lovely to see how the club has adapted to allow card payments at the gate, and making it easy for me to get the team line-ups. It seems obvious that in these difficult times making your customer’s life easier is a good idea, but it was refreshing to see it done really well here. 

The only fly in the ointment from a Bluebird perspective was that this season has been a struggle, and this game seemed to be their season in microcosm. They didn’t do a lot wrong, but found former Oxford United forward James Roberts in inspired form. In 2015 Roberts looked to be the brightest of prospects, but a horrible combination of injury and bereavement saw his career stall and it took 4 years, and a stint at Spennymoor Town for him to rediscover his goalscoring touch. At age 26 I suspect it’s too late for him to return to the full time game but it was good to see him happy, healthy and in form.

I suspect there’s enough in Chippenham Town’s squad to keep them in the division, and they won’t welcome many better sides to Hardenhuish than Havant & Waterlooville;  I wish them well.

Dedicated to Malcolm “Mac” Carter. Rest in peace.