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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hans off, Hans on

Hanworth Villa 2 Eastbourne United 7 aet

For the second week running I had planned to go to Hanwell Town, for the second week running it failed a pitch inspection at 10am. But at the same time I discovered that match was off, I saw a tweet saying that Hansworth had passed a pitch inspection. I quicjly printed off a map, made a note of where & when to catch trains and set off for the town of Feltham. The train journey was straightforward and for once, the replacement bus service started from my destination, my sympathies did go out to the 50 or so miserable looking passengers, standing bewildered outside an unknown railway station, waiting for a clapped out bus with a miserable driver.
Lots of shops in the area of the station and a variety of potential lunch choices. I wandered up and down the High street and eventually plumped for the Three flames grill. This is basically a cafe that does kebabs, burgers, pies, simple meals and all-day breakfasts. There was table service and I ordered the all-day breakfast and a mug of tea. The food arrived quickly, was hot and although there were no thrills, it all tasted really good and at  very reasonably price. People were flooding in and there was barely a free table, always a good sign!
I had about a 25 minute walk to the ground along three roads that seemed never-ending, I'm sure there must be a more direct route.
On arrival at the ground, I entered the clubhouse which was packed with people and housed both a bar and tea-point. I soon ventured out to the ground itself. There is a small stand and small covered shed on the near side, a small wood behind one goal, a training pitch on the far side of the match pitch and a white rail, although there didn't seem to be any advertising boards! The wind was starting to pick up and there wasn't a lot of protection. Nice to bump into several other ground-hoppers and I thoroughly enjoyed their company throughout the afternoon.
When this game kicked off, I had no inclination of just what an extraordinary afternoon this would turn out to be.
Eastbourne scored twice in the first half and adapted best to the dramatically increasing wind. The second half saw Hanworth get one and then equalise just before the most incrdible storm I've ever seen at a football match. The first time I have ever run for the solace of the clubhouse, the roof was ripped off a marquet and as the rain turned to hail, the referee had no option but to take the players off. Fortunately, they were able to come back on after about 5 mins but the pitch had now turned into a real pudding.
In extra time, Eastbourne scored an amazing 5 times, Hanworth lost their centre forward with a suspected broken foot and then lost their centre half to a red card for a last man tackle, 2 supporters almost got into a full on fight and I saw the best goal I've seen for many a year as the Eastbourne left back went on a 40 yard run, slipping 4 or 5 tackles to score a great goal.
As I left the ground, the wind had died to about 10 mph and there were stars in the sky.
Amazing how fate sometimes send you in the direction of a most extraordinary cup-tie.

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