Monday 15th July 2013 ko 19.45
Bedfordshire Premier Cup Final
BIGGLESWADE TOWN 1 (Witham 52)
LUTON TOWN 1 (Banton 60)
For once I was rather spoilt for choice for a Monday night game. I could have visited AFC Totton, as the club still looks in danger of folding, or head north-east for a competitive game. It wasn’t a difficult decision and despite a flat tyre on the way, I parked up at the Carlsberg Stadium in good time.
The town is mentioned in the diaries of Samuel Pepys. On 22nd July 1661, he stopped off in Biggleswade (called ‘Bigglesworth’ by Pepys) to buy a pair of warm woollen stockings, hardly suprising as the town was a centre was centre for the trade at the time.
In 2001 a gold coin bearing the name Coenwulf was discovered at Biggleswade beside the River Ivel. The 4.33 g (0.15 oz) mancus, worth about 30 silver pennies, is only the eighth known Anglo-Saxon gold coin dating to the mid to late Anglo-Saxon period. it was initially sold to an American collector for £230,000 at auction the British Government placed an export ban in the hope of saving it for the nation. In February 2006 the coin was bought by the British Museum for £357,832 making it the most expensive British coin purchased to date.
Biggleswade is also the base of the Jordan’s cereals business, so you now know where your muesli comes from!
Biggleswade Town used to be based adjacent to local rivals Biggleswade United, at Fairfield Road, but after a groundshare at Bedford FC, moved into their purpose built ground on the Langford Road, in 2008. It holds 3,000 has turnstiles from Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane, and has a grandstand that seats 300.
My worry about so many developments like this is its location on the outskirts of town. I watched a club local to me move out of a central location to the outskirts and, in time it killed them. Witney Town like so many, saw the improved facilities, but forgot the non-football trade completely. The small clubhouse in constant use is often more lucrative than the superbly appointed sports bar that you have to drive to get to. I hope Town can make it work for them as the ground design is perfect for their needs.
Those needs are of course entirely different from those of the groundhopper! We like unusual and quirky and there’s nothing remotely of either here. It simply does its job, in an unassuming manner. The people are friendly, the sightlines good, and there’s plenty of scope for expansion should it be needed.
I was a little intrigued by the opposition. Luton Town are very-much a League club in waiting, only being relegated out of the Football League in 2009 after a total of 30 points were deducted as the League tired of repeated insolvency events, and financial mismanagement. With average attendances of 6,000 plus, way more than most Conference clubs each season they are always amongst the favourites for promotion each season. And each season they fall short, there can’t be many clubs who’ve made the play-offs for the 3 out of the last 4 seasons and failed to get promoted.
This game didn’t attract as many Luton fans as I expected, perhaps due to them only sending a reserve side. The first half vindicated the absentees’ decision, as there was only one notable chance, Luton’s Jake Woolley producing a smart save from Sam Wyer. It wasn’t that there was a lack of effort, the tackles flew in from both sides, it was just that the end product was missing.
It opened up a little more in the second half, the Waders taking the lead though Alex Witham’s improvised finish at the back post from a right-wing cross. Luton soon equalised, JJ O’Donnell’s cross was volleyed home by Zane Banton.
Both sides had the chance to win the tie, but the Bedfordshire FA sensibly decided to eschew any thought of extra time, and Luton prevailed 3-2 on penalties. The presentation swiftly followed and those remaining were treated to Luton captain Alex Lacey’s perfunctory lifting of the trophy and non-celebration. I trust more senior brains at the club will remind him that others involved in football are not paid full-time wages, and that one day he may value winning a trophy a little more. After all it could easily be the only one he will ever win.