Hillingdon Borough 4 Mildenhall 0
Sudbury out! Winchester out! Wimbourne out! In the end, I probably chose one of the lesser surprises of the round, but nobody expected the emphatic victory which Hillingdon Borough served up.
My day started off with humour from a British rail tannoy announcer, no really! Just before my train pulled in, this voice came over the loud speaker saying "Would the young lady sitting on top of the seat on platform 2, please get down. Whatever you've troden in today has just been transferred to where other people will soon be sitting. If you want to sit that high, get a job at Wimbledon." The whole platform laughed at the announcement, the young lady in question just wanted the ground to open up.
My good mood was quashed rather by the middle aged couple sitting opposite me on the train. They literally couldn't keep there hands off each other and were being decidedly indiscreet. I probably would have completely ignored it if they were teenagers, this was plain distasteful and theyt needed to 'GET A ROOM'
My mood was tested further at Kings X when I discovered there were no Metropolitan or Circle trains, this meant a Picadilly line trip through 27 stops and added about 30 minutes to my journey.
Hillingdon Borough play out of the town of Ruislip. I used to live near here when I was young. they tell you that you should never go back as things change and are never as you remember them. Well not Ruislip, sure there were a few new shops, but the architecture and layout of the place was just as I remembered it. A real treat and made me feel very at home. I discovered another good British cafe for lunch which once again had good friendly service and nice hot food. It was very agreeable, but still not in Chessington's league.
The walk from Ruislip station is between 20-25 mins, but is quite a nice walk and looks very 'Middle England' and affluent.
I arrived at the ground at 14:20 to discover that they'd already run out of programmes. A bit disappointing, apparently they'd run off 250. What was more surprising was the official crowd being only 280 odd, where did all the programmes go? The place was littered with overwrought groundhoppers, some of whom were offering club officials £5 to buy their programme. Many officials did sell theirs, but to be fair, none of them sold them for more than the cover price.
My mood improved dramatically on finding an FA official in the clubhouse, along with the FA Vase trophy. I got a nice photo and it certainly added a buzz to the pre-match gathering.
Hillingdon have a good sized clubhouse and bar with Sky football being shown on a large projector screen.
The pitch itself was very flat and in excellent condition. There's a reasonable sized stand with shallow tiering interestingly behind one of the goals. very unusual, but anyone sitting there would have spent the entire game staring into a really bright sun. Other than that, it's a white rail and hard standing with the occasional elevated view, I actually quite liked it as a ground.
Mildenhall were quickest out the blocks and saw a point blank vollet somehow saved after 5 mins. the Mildenhall fans were trying to get behind their team, but the large ground and sparse crowd for this stage of the competition, meant that the atmosphere was fairly subdued. Hillingdon held on during the first quarter and took the lead against the run of play. A freek ick 30 yards out was punched by the keeper, but it hit the back of a defendef falling to the feet of Tilbury who blasted a volley home from 12 yards. 10 mins later, they won a slightly dubious penalty for a push on a striker breaking through the right channel. To be fair, the referee and linesman both gave it at the same time, Craft scored comfortably from the spot.
When Hillingon played the Great escape theme tune over the tannoy at hal time, I thought they knew their defence better than I did. Mildenhall tried to raise their game, but were never able to get back into it. on 70 mins, a ball was hooked on in midfield finding Lawrence breaking clear, he shot low and hard across goal from 15 yards effectively ending the contest. The victory was rounded off on 85 mins, Tilbury broke clear down the right and squared to Lawrence who skipped past a marker and finished well with a left foot shot in at the near post. Mildenhall hit the post in stoppage time but in the end, despite a bright start, were well beaten.
So the giants have fallen, I've no idea who will win the Vase now, but it'll be great to have another new name on the trophy.