Sunday, 2 November 2008

Duke Duke Duke Duke of Earl(swood) - I Am SO sorry about that - Earlswood Town 1 Newhall 1 - Midland Combination Division One - 01/11/08

The promise of a lift to a new ground and two new teams was enough to convince me that a trip to the Warwickshire countryside was in order, Earlswood have been on my radar for a while because of their proximity to The Lakes railway station but this was my first visit and despite the cold (it was definitely more like January football weather than November, global warming my arse) it was well worth the day out.
Earlswood is not a town despite the teams rather optimistic suffix, it's more of a street with some posh houses, the ground itself is just a field in the middle of some farmland but you can tell that somebody somewhere cares about this club. They have a rather posh new clubhouse and changing rooms building, all done out in pine and with decking and benches and everything, I had a mootch around the inside to see if it had been built using FA grants or something, certainly the meagre crowd for this match, if typical, won;t have paid for it. I couldn't see any evidence but on the way out of the ground we did spot a very expensive Bentley in the car park, so I think the owner of that may have put his hand in his pocket!

We could have got away without paying. As we left the car someone asked us if we were "Newhall", foolishly I said no and so he made us pay! He was shocked when I said I had travelled all the way from West Bromwich to watch this game, you have a feeling that the "newcomers" will be talked about for weeks, they must get the odd groundhopper (most groundhoppers are odd, no offence) down this way but unlike in the Black Country people don't tend to travel around the Mid Comb grounds to watch games so visitors are rare I suppose.

Pre-match refreshments consisted of tea and a roast beef roll, all at very reasonable prices while Cameron set off in search of electric fences and footballs to steal.

We then decided that it didn't count if you watched the match through the clubhouse windows (although some did) and ventured into the Arctic wastelands to watch the match.
Earlswood were (and still are) top of the division, Newhall were (but no longer are) bottom, should have been a formality then eh? Of course not, Earlswood played all the good football, Woodhall's "rule of three" (at this level if a team can do three good things in a row without f*cking it up they are a good side) certainly showed that they can play, but they couldn't finish. This despite the Newhall keeper being one of the most eccentric I've seen for a while, there were times when he seemed genuinely scared of the ball.
Poor finishing and desperate defending kept it to 0-0 at half-time and the chance to defrost with more tea.

Somewhere in the above picture is a bird of prey who had been hovering over the field next door. It was definitely there when I took the photo but I'm damned if I can see it now!

Anyhow, Earlswood finally took the lead about ten minutes into the second half, a neat finish from the edge of the six yard box, that really should have been it as The Earls (I'm getting familiar now) had plenty more chances to finish the game off. They did have the ball in the back of the net once more, the Newhall keeper once again did something bizarre on the edge of his area and the resultant lobbed attempt at goal was bundled over the line but from an offside position. And then, inevitably I suppose, Newhall scrambled in an equaliser with minutes to go, and boy did they celebrate.

Earlswood reamin top but have played more games than second placed Castle Vale JKS, not that they could get promoted with this ground, it's lovely but it doesn't have floodlights, and in this leafy part of the world I doubt the NIMBYs would allow them anyway. Shame, because as I said, someone really cares for this club, the clubhouse building proves that.

Attendance: 14 (headcount) although three more did turn up just after half time thinking that it kicked off at 3pm rather than 2!
Programme: Yes, 50p I think.
Food: Cheap rolls, very tasty.
Public transport: Train from Snow Hill or Moor Street to The Lakes.

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