Probably due to being under the weather for a week, I felt decidedly uninspired when the draw for this round of the Vase was published. I looked the fixtures up and down several times, half-heartedly looked up the directions to a few of them but kept turning my nose up. I decided to sleep on it, picked the list up the next day and felt an urge to visit the Hellenic league, Witney United being the choice.
So off I set at 10am. My other hobby is amateur dramatics and on boarding my first train, I sat down only for a pretty young lady to come bounding up to me to say hi. This did my self-confidence no harm at all and I enjoyed the open mouthed expressions of other guys sitting near me. Thinking back, I’m delighted that this young lady is looking so well & I was delighted that she wasn’t embarrassed to come and say hi, it gave me a glow for the rest of the day…and boy, did I need it?
We had a short delay at Reading due to a problem with the door lights and a longer delay near Didcot when we stopped at a red signal. This all culminated in a 10 minute delay arriving at Oxford. The next 15 minutes were taken up trying to find bus stop B2 where the S2 bus stopped. After a few wrong turns, I found my way but had missed the bus by 5 minutes. A therefore had a 25 minute wait for the next bus, add on another 25 minutes as this bus was late and I was standing on the street being bustled by hordes of Christmas shoppers for 50 minutes. When the bus did arrive, it got to Witney fairly quickly as most of the trip is along a duel carriageway. The bus driver kindly helped me with the correct stop & I set off along Downs road to the ground. Downs Road is a strange affair, it’s desperately long, completely straight and yet hardly any traffic goes along it. When you first saw a car in the distance, it was about 2 minutes until it passed you. I finally reached the ground at 2:45. It is called the Polythene stadium which makes you wary of leaning against the walls in case you put your finger through it. However, there is a cracking stand with functions rooms and a tea bar at the top level. There are also large covered, standing areas behind the near goal and along most of the far side. This is possibly the nicest Hellenic ground I’ve been to so far and the special, bumper edition FA Vase programme was a nice touch and well presented. Having had no lunch, I was delighted to see a large sign saying CHIPS on the tea room window. I went in, asked for chips but unfortunately there were none made up and I couldn’t face standing around for another wait. So I ordered a sausage roll. It was nice but was gone within 2 bites. The queue for tea at half time was horrendous so I ended up going home a little hungry..
The game itself got off to a slow start, mainly due to the referee blasting his whistle every 15 seconds. Almondsbury were above Witney in the league & I expected a close game. But Witney had a lively pair of strikers who caused havoc all afternoon and were the difference between the sides. Witney scored on 10 minutes through a glancing header and doubled the score on 21 mins with a nice low finish with the keeper caught in no mans land. Almondsbury thought they had a lifeline when they were awarded a penalty for a trip but the linesman had his flag up for offside and this nullified the spot kick – cue howls of protest for about 5 mins. Witney made sure with a lovely chipped goal on 79 mins and a tap in after a great low cross on 86 mins. Almondsbury had a lot of possession but no cutting edge.
My bus was only 10 mins late going home as I stood on a pitch black road in the pouring rain and how we laughed as it broke down on the A40 when the wind screen wipers snapped. The first train from Oxford to London was cancelled and I had to wait 20 mins at Paddington for a tube train due to driver shortages.
As much as I enjoyed the ground and the game, I’m in no rush to go back.