Wednesday 22nd February 2012 ko 7.30pm
Gloucestershire County League
BRISTOL ACADEMY MFC 2 (Williams 33 71)
BERKELEY TOWN 2 (Nash 51 Bryant 86)
This one was surprisingly easy to get done. I left Banbury at just after 5pm and was parked at the WISE campus in Stoke Gifford at 6.30. The ground is to be found around a mile west of junction 1 of the M32, and it’s part of what has just been renamed the South Gloucestershire and Stroud College. For the time being it’s better known as Filton College. The area is famous for the British Aerospace factory which produced the British “Concorde” aircraft. In terms of this game, however the transport very much in evidence was the train, as the line to and from Bristol Parkway runs behind the far goal. It always amuses me how when a line runs near a football ground the trains seem to slow down to watch the action for a second or two!
Bristol Academy started life as Bristol Rovers’ ladies team, before linking up with Filton College. They now find themselves in the Women’s Super League, the top flight in the English female game. The male (MFC) section are I believe, so far the only male club to be created out of a women’s club, in this country. It reminded me of a trip to suburban Stockholm outfit Tyreso FF a few years ago where I watched 100 or so walk in for the men’s game, passing 1,000 leaving as the ladies game had finished! Its the men’s first season in senior football and they were more than happy to be using the “Ladies” stadium!
It has to be said as football stadiums go, Stoke Gifford Stadium is a pretty good as an athletics stadium! Any number of of movable “Arena” stands can be put in place, my visit saw 3, the ladies normally get 6, but if you’re by the side of the pitch you’re 8 lanes from the action. The saving grace is that you are allowed to use the running track; has anyone more unfit used it?
It was a filthy night, blustery and wet and it was a pleasant surprise to be invited into the Portakabin-cum-clubhouse for a coffee and pick up the full colour programme. I asked for the lineups, and an official went a photocopied the teamsheets for anyone interested. Many were, and an attitude like that will win this club many friends. It certainly made one of me!
The game was a difficult one to call, even with a few minutes to go. Academy led twice, both times by centre half Jemal Williams tapping in after a goalkeeping howler, but the vistors looked the more talented bunch thoughout, although it took goals from each of the two substitutes used, to rescue a fully deserved point. Mike Bryant had an interesting half hour’s work. Not only did he score the point-saving goal, it was his challenge that sparked a minor bout of unsporting conduct, at the end of which he collected the only booking of the game.
That spoke volumes about the conduct of both teams, and referee Gerard O’Sullivan. He was barely noticed in an excellent game at an excellent club.