County Ground, Football, groundhopping, GroundhopUK, Hellenic hop, hellenic league, Hereford, Lads Club, Non League, Westfields
Monday 27th December 2022 ko 15:00
Hellenic League Premier Division
HEREFORD LADS CLUB 0
WESTFIELDS 6 (Pitman 15 Hunt 23 McDonald 34 Muirhead 41 Edwards 65 Newbury 82p)
I remember the phone calls last Easter all too well, with Lads Club being on the previous Hellenic Hop why as GroundhopUK’s deputy organiser wasn’t I there ? After all, I hadn’t missed an organised hop in years! The truth was that finally Robyn and I managed to get on the honeymoon in Austria that the pandemic had delayed by 2 years. That said, it didn’t stop me taking calls asking what was going on with the Worcester Raiders game? The catch was that I was watching FC Balzers of Liechtenstein at the time!
The Hellenic and the area it serves is very much my hinterland, and in a sense Lads Club represented me completing the floodlit grounds of Hereford. I’d visited Hinton, Hereford Pegasus (Juniors) on a previous Hellenic Hop, Hereford FC at Edgar Street when they were still Hereford United, and even Hereford Racecourse for a team called Sinkums! That left Westfields, who play literally over the fence from Lads Club’s County Ground home and both have quite a view of Edgar Street’s floodlights! I must admit to not seeing the County Ground when I visited Westfields; my only excuse is that it was for an evening game. You can see Westfields’ floodlights through the trees beyond the far goal.
Lads Club was founded in 1925 as a sports club for under-privileged children, moving to what is now the Herefordshire County Ground around 1940. They’ve played here ever since save for a short stint at the Racecourse in 2012 when the pitch was deemed too short. On the pitch their progress has been evolutionary, from the Herefordshire League, into the West Midlands League, then into the Hellenic in 2018.
While we knew a Lads Club vs Westfields tie was the closest of local derbies, neither Robyn and I were expecting it to be as intense as it was. The single turnstile was inadequate for the huge attendance, and plenty missed kick-off. I managed to find a seat in the stand with the Westfields committee, that with hindsight may or may not have been a good idea.
The game was every inch as one-sided as the scoreline would suggest. Westfields passed and moved beautifully on the artificial surface and the beating they were inflicting soon became too much for Lads Club manager Danny Moon. The fourth goal went in with only just over half-an-hour gone. He exploded at his defence, the referee, and when I pointed out that the reason his team were four down had nothing to do with the referee- me as well. I’ve heard worse insults, yes I am overweight, and bald (ing) and I’ll let others judge whether I’m a “Retard.”
I don’t take offence easily, and this was footballing pantomime, but it did rather clash with the FA’s “Respect” banners on the fencing opposite the dug-outs and it certainly wasn’t the family entertainment I’m sure his club would like to be providing. Yes, I did speak to some of my contacts at the league and suffice it to say nothing I reported surprised anyone. I did make sure I didn’t encounter him at the final whistle. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t recommend Lads Club to a casual visitor, just don’t engage with the manager!
It is the lot of the groundhopper to visit a lot of football grounds – once. Afterwards Robyn and I sat in an excellent curry house in Hereford and I can’t say we discussed Danny Moon at all. Because in the end, what we really saw was two clubs who have both made great strides in recent years. The fact that they now meet is a real bonus.