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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Odd do a number on Wootton

Odd Down 7 Wootton Bassett Town 0

What with Easter, minor illness and holidays, this was the first Vase match that I'd managed to get to for over 6 months! It had been way too long since I'd been to the Western league and having always loved the city of Bath, this seemed like an ideal destination.
Huge improvements and upgrades are being made to many London stations, Paddington is one of these and you wouldn't recognise the exit from the circle line platform compared to a year ago. I was in good time and on seeing a way-out exit I'd never seen before, I decided to go for a little explore. I was shocked to find myself standing next to the Grand union canal. I've been travelling through London for 30 years and had no idea that this canal was right next to the station. I was fascinated to see a floating book shop on a barge, London as a city is never boring.
My excitement continued as a boarded my train to discover that all the seats had a mini-TV screen such as you gets on planes. Admittedly, the choice of programmes wasn't of the highest standard but that's only to be expected. I found an episode of Miranda and spent the next 30 minutes chuckling away and getting funny looks from the guy who had sat himself next to me.
I got to Bath in very good time and decided to have a nose around the city in search of some lunch. I actually had my pleasant memories of this lovely city shattered somewhat as the place seemed to be full of drunks milling around with cider cans. After about 10 mins, I found nothing to tempt me and decided to make my way to my destination to see if there was something in that area more appealing. I jumped on a number 14 bus that runs every 15 mins and has a stop about a 3 minute walk from the ground. I easily found the ground and decided to walk the streets in search of some lunch. The first road I chose turned out to be solely residential so I re-traced my steps, crossed the main road and headed up the road opposite. I first spotted a pub but it looked a bit ropey so I continued walking, next up was a curry shop but that would be an absolute last resort. 100 yards past this was the groundhoppers best friend, a chippy! One lady was ahead of me and quickly ordered chips with a  jumbo sausage. The young lady serving scooped some chips and proceeded to sprinkle vinegar onto them. "I didn't want salt & vinegar" the lady said. The young girl stopped in her tracks with a look of horror on her face. After about 30 seconds, she looked at me, "Did you want salt & vinegar?" She asked. I replied that I was quite happy with this although the young lady still seemed perplexed. "I'll do you a few more chips" she said, despite the fact that it already looked a good portion. I couldn't believe my eyes as she added another 2 scoops. When I then asked for them to be left open, the young lady again froze in her tracks, she asked me to repeat my request three times and clearly didn't seem to know what 'leaving chips open' was. Eventually the manager came over, snatched them from the young lady and poured them all into a box. It was quite simply the biggest portion of chips that I've ever been given. The brilliantly named 'Cod Down chippy' was always stick in my memory.
I walked back down the road and soon found a little quiet area. The hedge was at exactly the right height, I placed my chips on them and ate my lunch with a stunning view of the Mendips. It took a good 10 minutes to eat and I waddled back up the road with a very full belly.
As I walked through the car park, a guy in a car with his daughter asked me for directions to a local school where a hockey match was taking place. It always gives me pleasure when I've just arrived in an area for the first time ever to accurately direct someone, admittedly I'd walked past the school about 2 minutes earlier.
I bought a cup of tea and sat in the large clubhouse to watch the last 30 minutes of Norwich v Villa. Premier league does little to me but it passed the time and wasn't a bad game, although the screen kept freezing every 7 or 8 minutes and then when it started again, the players were running at cartoon speed for a few seconds.
The ground itself was okay, a stone wall surrounds the pitch but don't lean against it as you end up with chalk all over your trousers. There is a covered area behind the near goal and a seated stand on the far side. Hard standing surrounds three sides of the ground although it is just grass behind the far goal.
The match itself was as one-sided as the score suggests, from the moment Odd Down scored with a miss-hit cross after 9 mins, there was no looking back. 3 up at half time, they could easily have hit double figures and Wootton despite having a couple of half chances, were never really in this tie at all.
A memorable trip for many reasons, this turned into a bit of a Vase classic hop for me.

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