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Sunday, September 11, 2011

The High life

Highgate United 3 Bewdley Town 1

This early round is where I ask my wife to select the club of her choice & off I go. Her choice was Crook Town, about as far away as you can get. On doing some preliminary research in July, this was actually feasible. But being intrinsically lazy, I put off buying the train tickets in July and when I got around to it in August, the cost had gone through the roof.  So I chose this ground instead. Breaking the journey town and getting advance tickets on specific trains from Euston to Birmingham actually made this extremely affordable although the journey hme seemed never-ending.

On arrival at Euston, an announcement was coming over the loud speaker. 'Will inspecter Sands please report to the station control room'. Either Inspector Sands is the slowest inspector in history, or there was a fault with the P.A system. The announcement repeated itself for at least 15 minutes and I don't no how long it had been going before I got there. Not at all annoying!

I arrived at Birmingham New street and had to walk the 400 yards to Moor street for my connection. The amount of people milling around central Birmingham made London earlier in the day seemed deserted. There was a real buzz including an amusing beatbox busker who was actually very good, if you like that sort of thing.

The 20 minute journey took me to the Birmingham suburbs and the attractively named Whitlocks end FC. I had a quick nosy up the road on arrival in vane search of a chippy. Everywhere I looked, there seemed to be areas growing Christmas trees. Obviously big business here!

There was a small cabin on arrival labeled a cafe. The extremely pleasant lady quickly knocked me up a bacon & tomato sandwich. Grilled bacon, micro-waved tinned tomatoes all placed between 2 slices of bread. Fabulous comfort food that didn't touch the sides.

My walk to the ground from the station took only 5 minutes and incredibly, I passed two other football grounds. Shirley Town which looked in good order and Leafield FC which although locked up, still looked okay.

Highgate have a very neat and quite reasonably sized clubhouse with a well stocked bar and giant TV screen. There is a minutes walk from the clubhouse to the pitch. The whole of the nearside touchline is covered, half of this area having seated. The rest of the pitch is surrounded by a white rail. The groundsman was loving caring for is pitch on my arrival. It's only his second year in the job and he was as keen as mustard. His pitch looked immaculate and I hope his planned works to include drainage etc. pay off.

Ground-hops often have little trends in my experience. This was my second week running where the game I was watching had a rugby field over the hedge with a game in progress. That also looked a nice facility and I love the cheers they give the opposition at the end of the game. For all the hand-shaking before each game that we see, these rugby boys genuinely show respect to their opponents and football could learn a lot from them.

A neat little programme and on reading, I learned the tragedy that hit this club many years ago when lightening struck down during a game, knocked several players over and one of these never regained consciousness. A local cup competition is named after him & still played.

This was an excellent game from beginning to end. Very even, well refereed with no cards shown. Not a trainer in  sight and no histrionics from players. A little dissent only, this was a breath of fresh air. Highgate scored on 16 minutes following a lovely 1-2. Bewdley equalised on 43 mins only for Highgate to re-take the lead almost immediately with a 20 yard bullet. The final goal came 3 minutes from time with an outrageous 40 yard chip, wind assisted, that the back-pedalling keeper could only finger-tip in to the net.

A visit is highly recommended if you get the chance.

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