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Monday, November 20, 2006

Hoppers gather as Northampton cruise through

Northampton Spencer 5 Thetford Town 2

When the draw was published, I have to confess that I struggled somewhat for inspiration. I marked a few possible ties, but none of them filled me with any excitement for some reason. I decided to sleep on it for a few days. The inspiration came when I saw that Northampton Spencer had won a replay & were drawn at home. Now, I've heard of Frank Spencer, Spencer Tracey, Marks & Spencer; But Northampton Spencer, what's all that about? Here was my chance to find out. I've been ground hopping a number of years now and yet had never visited a ground via Euston station. Most London Stations are old and vaguely crowded and not particularly pleasant places to wait around at. Euston, was almost a joy. It's modern, uncrowded and has a delightful area just outside the terminus where you can sit on a nice day with various mobile food outlets. I enjoyed a Starbucks coffee and actually found it a bit of a wrench as I headed off to board my train. Signal failrues near Wembley meant that the previous train had been cancelled, mine was therefore packed but did leave on time. Bless the old couple sitting opposite me. They were trying to get to a church in Leighton Buzzard for 1pm and had travelled up from Hove. What an adventure they'd had! A train breakdown in Brighton, cancellations and a signal failure in Wimbledon. They put a brave face on it, but were clearly upset by this horrendous journey. The Scottish lady showed a lovely gesture in lending them her mobile phone to call ahead saying that they'd be late, restored my faith in Human nature. They arrived at Leighton Buzzard at 1:10pm and still had to find the church. I hope they made it! I did have the pleasure of going past the new Wembley stadium. It looks absolutely fantastic and slightly futuristic. When I saw it all lit up in the dark on my way home, it sent a shiver up my spine. I just can't wait to go if it ever,ever opens. On arriving at Northampton, I got my bearings and on doing so, walked along consulting my multimap. Suddenly, I was aware of two men walking towards me, also holding a multimap saying "Here's someone who looks like he's going to football." It turned out to be two fellow groundhoppers who I'd never met before, do we stand out that obviously? I enjoyed my walk to the ground with them which takes about half an hour. It turned out that one of them collects local newspapers and he kept popping off into newsagents to see what he could find. It always fascinates me the different hobbies that people have. As I had company, I didn't go out of my way to find food and decided to try my luck at the club. For anyone planning a visit to this ground, take my advice and don't eat on the way. I had the best chips I'd ever had at a football ground, piping hot and cooked in clean oil, the burger was also very nice. Washed down with a bottle of bud. made this a most acceptible lunch. Northampton Spencer have a superb function room with ample space, a couple of TV's and a large, well-stocked bar. the deluge of rain we'd had the day before worried me slightly, but the pitch, although not spectacular, had held up well and the game was never in doubt. There's a stand which sits about 75 and another covered area along the same stand. The rest of the ground has a white rail with hard standing. it's not the most charismatic place I've ever been to set in an Industrial area, but does the job. Funny, in a week where Mike Newell had been in the press for slagging off a female lino. that I should turn up to discover that this match was to be refereed by a lady. To be fair, Miss Hong gave an extremely credible performance.A lot of her decisions were contested, but have you ever been to a game when they're not? Her performance was understated and it was nice to see a referee not wanting to be the centre of attention, good luck to her. The game was slightly scrappy, but with 7 goals, you certainly can't complain. Northampton scored after only 4 mins as Frost hit a lovely 18 yard drive across goal and in off the inside of the far post. on 16 mins, Frost scored again as he beat the offside trap, side-stepped the keeper and scored from 14 yards. It looked like it could be a landslide, but Thetford fought back and scored 2 in 10 mins. Firstly, a cross was allowed to bounce and Pask headed over the advancing keeper and then Crashaw shot home from 12 yards after a defender missed his clearance. Northampton clearly upped their concentration in the second half and the result was never in doubt once they'd re-taken the lead. on 66 mins, a freek kick from wide right was headed towards goal by Nedomovic and allowed by the keeper to squirm under his body. The keeper unfortuately repeated the favour 4 mins later when he allowed Frost to complete a hattrick by allowing his 18 yard shot to again, squirm underneath him. The final goal came on 77 mins as Cottle drove home from the far post after a great cross by Foster.
The Spencer part of the team name. Well, it turns out that the club were formed by members of Spencer school old boys, the team based on members of their old school team, the Spencer name has remained with the team. A mention also for the matchday programme. A most unusua 8 inch by 4 inch pamphlet style.
I also bumped into a photographer who I've previously met at other non-league events, Definitely a game where groundhoppers gathered for some reason.
It took a while for me to decide on this game, but all in all, a most enjoyable afternoon at an interesting club to visit.

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