Diary of a Ground Hopper
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20TH
Dereham Town 6 Acle United 1
TODAY, there is the opportunity to visit my beloved Norfolk for a day’s birdwatching capped with a football match this evening. I rarely take notice of weather forecasts these days, having been on the wrong end of so many wildly inaccurate predictions over the years. Today is one of those days I really should have paid attention. From the moment I arrive, rain is almost constant and the wind must be approaching False Teeth Removing speed. “Well it was forecast”, is all my travelling companion Tottenham Tim can say. After a dismal day, I seek sanctuary at Aldiss Park, home of Dereham Town. I have been here before but many years ago, so a revisit is no great loss. Tonight’s match is a Norfolk Senior Cup tie between Dereham (who play in the Bostik League, North) and Acle United (from the Anglian Combination Premier Division), so I am not anticipating a bumper crowd. There’s a guy at the entrance to the clubhouse who points out all the facilities on offer. It is a very pleasant welcome. The main bar is nicely appointed, with another large room partitioned off acting as the boardroom. When combined, this would make a superb venue for wedding receptions, etc. Food and hot drinks are available from a hatch in the corner of the bar. Teasing, tempting cooking smells are filtering around the clubhouse. The place is filling up with Acle fans. I had completely forgotten that Norfolk teams and supporters take its Cup games very seriously indeed and it seems there will be a bit of atmosphere for the game after all. I take the opportunity to grab a programme so I can read it in the comfort of the clubhouse. It is a full £2 edition, which shows that Dereham are treating their visitors with respect. A man circulates through the bar collecting entrance money (£6), so fans don’t have to walk all the way to the turnstiles: we can go through a door at the rear of the clubhouse to access the stadium. Another official brings round a teamsheet. They’ve thought of everything! It has just about stopped raining outside. This tempts me into a circuit of the ground. As I reach the uncovered end behind the goal, the heavens open once more. A main stand, housing seats and terracing, runs along the touchline opposite the clubhouse and changing rooms. The only other cover is a small terrace behind one goal and a bit of overhang from the bar. From the first whistle, it is obvious Dereham are going to win this cup tie. They treat Acle with the utmost respect and go about their business in a professional manner. However, Town are only one goal ahead at half-time, so there’s still hope for United. The visitors emerge for the second half and really go at Dereham. This is highly commendable but the ploy leaves huge gaps at the back. The Magpies rattle in another five but at least Acle get their consolation goal. Highly enjoyable!
PRE-MATCH INFO: 8, WELCOME: 9, FACILITIES: 8, FOOD: 6, CHARM: 2, PROGRAMME: 8, HOME TEAM RESPECT: 8, HOME FANS: 6, MATCH: 7.5, OVERALL TRIP: 7 OFFICIALS: 9.5, ATT: 125