Welwyn Garden City 3 Slimbridge 1
After over three months, this was the last Saturday of scheduled replacement bus services on the local rail route. It finally got the better of me and having not covered them on this website, I decided to visit Welwyn Garden City, my local club and a mere 20 minute walk from home. Instead of finding lunch in an unfamiliar town, I ate a leisurely lunch at home and left for the game just as Freddy Flintoff uprooted the Pakistan number 11's leg stump to win the first ODI. On any normal weekend, Welwyn Garden City is easily accessible by train on the Kings Cross line. The Station is attached to a small sized shopping centre. There are several food options just outside the shopping centre and a few inside. Interestingly, a year or so ago, after having none, Muffin shops started springing up everywhere you lookied in this shopping centre. Now one I could understand, two is a shade unnecessary, but three places selling muffins is just pure overkill. Why not bring in a toasted sandwich place or doughnuts? Actually, to reach the ground, you turn the other way when leaving the station which takes you past the Shredded wheat factory, one of Welwyn's landmarks. With the wind in the right direction, you can smell this place from a good few miles away and Welwyn is probably the one station in the World I could be taken to blinfold and still know where I was due to the smell. It's by no means obtrusive, I actually love the smell, it's just a shame that the factory is being shut down in a few years time. It's just over a mile to the ground and if you go in the spring or autumn, you'll see some fabulous colours on the garden city trees. I've watched Welwyn Garden City FC grow as a club over the last few years. It was quite laughable when I first moved here and I used to go and watch with a mate because you could guarantee that there would be a punch up on the pitch. Nowadays, a surrounding fence has been erected and the pitch fenced off, it really looks like a proper ground although there's only a small stand which seats no more than 20 people. The improvement to the ground has probably been funded due to the thriving clubhouse and the vast amount of mobile phone masts erected over the last few years. Whenever you pass the clubhouse, there are lights on and something going on, a great amenity for the area. Welwyn have done really well in cups this season, knocking AFC Sudbury out of the FA Cup. In non-league circles, this was a huge shock and yet barely got a mention in the press. I think the non league paper gave it 4 lines. They've been going well in the Vase too and were looking to reach the fourth round for the first time in their history. To be honest, after the first 10 minutes, the result was never in doubt and ithere is such a thing as an easy victory, then this was it. Don't get me wrong, Slimbridge fought hard but were rarely a threat. The first goal cam on 12 mins. A free kick from just outside the right of the area was floated over, Wardle went up under pressure, but the ball flew in off the defenders head for an unlucky OG. Then a minute later. a cross was half cleared, another cross was scuffed in where Devira, unmarked tapped in from 6 yards. The 14 year old looking linesman looked like he was doing semiphore he flagged so often, even the referee started overuling him but the message never quite got across to him. That could have been because the referee had the highest pitched whistle I've ever heard, the only way I can describe it is 'girly', It was very difficult to take him seriously. Welwyn have a lovely flat pitch and although it was very muddy due to recent weather, it plays really well and encourages passing football. A well weighted through ball on the hour saw Wardle reach the ball a split second before the keeper where he managed to toe poke a shot that trickled slowly over the line. An amusing incident occured when a fierce shot caught a deflection and flew past the keeper. As he turned to see where the ball had gone, it thudded into the post and landed in his midriff before he knew what had happened. Slimbridge got a consolation on 89 mins. A break down the right saw a low cross bundled in by substitute Varnam.
A game easy on the eye, but the result was never really in doubt.
Visit Welwyn Garden City FC if you can, probably the best ground in the South Midlands league ensuring that you rarely see a poor game.