Di­ary of a Ground Hop­per

SATUR­DAY SEPTEM­BER 30 Ris­bor­ough Rangers 2 Brims­down 2

The Non-League Football Paper - - RESULTS SERVICE -

THERE’S an­other double header on of­fer to­day. Tring Town have a noon kick-off for their South Midlands Sec­ond Di­vi­sion game against Old Brad­well United. It’s an en­ter­tain­ing 2-3 en­counter to set me up for the ‘main event’ this af­ter­noon. Ten miles or so of back­roads through Hert­for­shire and Buck­ing­hamshire sees me at ‘Wind­sors’, home of Ris­bor­ough Rangers. When­ever Ris­bor­ough are men­tioned on Hop­ping fo­rums, re­ac­tions are in­vari­ably very pos­i­tive, so I have wanted to visit for a while to check for my­self. My welcome couldn’t be bet­tered and a club of­fi­cial goes out of his way to make sure my visit is an en­joy­able one. There is a re­laxed at­mos­phere around the charm­ing ground and I im­me­di­ately feel at home. The en­trance shed is sit­u­ated in one cor­ner of the sta­dium. Af­ter pay­ing £5 to get in and an­other £1 for the pro­gramme, I take my cus­tom­ary stroll around the ground. To the left of the en­trance, there’s a cov­ered standing area in­ter­spersed with seats run­ning down the left touch­line. The club­house and tea bar can be found im­me­di­ately be­hind this stand. There’s a small cov­ered area on the other side, ap­par­ently shipped in from Canada as a sur­prise present for Ris­bor­ough’s chair­man! Al­though it is a warm af­ter­noon, au­tumn has def­i­nitely ar­rived: there is a car­pet of dead leaves piled be­hind each goal, no doubt swept from the pitch by a hard-work­ing vol­un­teer. As soon as the whis­tle blows for kick off, it starts to rain. Eer­ily, this has hap­pened to me sev­eral times re­cently, I am be­gin­ning to won­der if I have done some­thing to up­set the weather gods! I shel­ter in the wooden stand, which also serves as a base for the very busy ball ‘boys’ (the two gen­tle­men are much older than me!) but I soon have to leave thanks to a ra­dio trans­mit­ting reg­u­lar bouts of shout­ing from Premier League matches. It is im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous that this is a higher level than this morn­ing’s en­counter; a di­vi­sion up, in fact. Brims­down look par­tic­u­larly fast and skil­ful but can­not find the right pass in and around the box. An ex­cit­ing to-and-fro half sees the sides level at the break. The en­ter­tain­ment con­tin­ues into the sec­ond half. The vis­i­tors be­come dis­tracted by in­ternecine ar­gu­ments and a lengthy in­jury stop­page and go be­hind once more. They man­age to equalise and then bom­bard Rangers’ goal for the win­ner. Some­how, the home side hold out to claim a share of the spoils. My visit to Ris­bor­ough is in stark con­trast with my re­cent ex­pe­ri­ence at Thame, just a few miles away. Rangers was a far more re­laxed, pleas­ant, wel­com­ing day out. I know who I would be giv­ing my money to if I lived lo­cally! As I am leav­ing the ground, the blue-lighted am­bu­lance is ar­riv­ing to whisk off the in­jured player to hos­pi­tal to get his shoul­der seen to. It just goes to show that a simple af­ter­noon’s foot­ball is po­ten­tially life-al­ter­ing. Per­son­ally, the se­ri­ous­ness of my task ex­tends to choos­ing my mu­sic for the jour­ney home. Hmm, Nick Cave; that’ll do nicely.


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