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Friday, April 01, 2005

FA Vase Diary

Haringey Borough 2 London Colney 3

I missed the first set of Vase games due to a holiday, so I was really looking forward to this one. I chose this match, as it had a local team away at a ground that I’d never ‘hopped’. As I alighted the tube at Wood Green to be confronted by a pack of girls positively screaming at a hapless couple who’d happened to bump into them, I thought that maybe this wasn’t my wisest choice. But fortunately, once out of the station, the journey passed without incident. It’s about a 15 minute walk to the ground, most of which is along White Hart Lane. This is actually quite an interesting road, housing the impressive looking New River sports complex, home to the Haringey Rhinos rugby team. When you reach the ground, there is no entrance as such. You can walk through the car park to the white rail of the ground, which I did to have a first look at my surroundings for the next few hours. I was covering this game for my local radio station and was pleasantly surprised when the gate man bustled up to me and on discovering who I was, said he was expecting me! I was shown to the boardroom situated under the stand and offered coffee and biscuits by the club secretary. For such a small club, I was made to feel extremely welcome. A separate building houses the bar and other facilities, including a fruit machine, something you don’t often see or notice at a ground. The linesmen on arriving at the ground, were invited into the boardroom, one of whom seemed to delight in telling everyone that he was in enemy territory, as he was a Chelsea fan and had always referred to this part of London as ‘Three point lane’. As he lit up a fag and told everyone how Chelsea had been robbed against Spurs the previous week, I had a bad feeling about him. The stand at Haringey is very high up, similar to Edgware for those in the know, but it does give you an excellent view of the pitch and appreciated cover from the heavy drizzle. I couldn’t believe the amount of people flocking up the street; Unfortunately 99% of the people kept on walking, as Spurs were hosting Man U less than a mile away. The rest of Haringey’s ground is a bit run down, but the stand was more than adequate to house the crowd, which numbered no more than 25. Shame because this was a hugely entertaining match. London Colney ran out on to the pitch 3 times before the start of the game. First they were called back for the officials to check their boots, then they were called back again for the officials to parade them out with the home team. All this meant that the game kicked off three minutes late. So to the game itself. I’d been asked on air for a prediction and as London Colney had won 6 of 6 league games, I went for a 3~0 win in their favour. So it was no surprise when my prediction was proved wrong within 90 seconds, Haringey scoring with their first attack. You can hear the roar at Haringey when Spurs score a home goal, I don’t think those at White Hart Lane were disturbed by this early score, but the home support was delighted. The rest of the first half was short on skill, but end to end with the Haringey keeper making a couple of fine saves. Then right on half time, our Chelsea fan Linesman, incidentally wearing a different shade of top to the other officials, awarded London Colney a penalty following a free kick. Why, well who knows? Half time discussion established that it was for a Haringey player apparently slapping a London Colney man. Decision was to say the least harsh, but penalty was put away at the second attempt after the keeper had saved the first shot well. London Colney were energised by this stroke of luck and scored early in the second half with a deflected shot looping over the keeper. The rest of the half was end to end with London Colney missing a hat full of chances. The game was rounded off with 2 goals in stoppage time, London Colney taking a deserved 3-1 lead and then Haringey going straight up the other end and winning a penalty for a trip which our linesman decided was just in the area. This penalty proved to be the last goal and action in an enjoyable cup-tie.
Shame that more people weren’t here to see it, but if you get the chance to visit Haringey Borough, make the journey. They are a friendly bunch and you’ll get a warm welcome.

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