Hartley Wintney 3 Bradford Town 1
I’ve had literally three months with either heavy rain, fierce 40mph winds or games postponed due to waterlogged pitches. Finally, a lovely sunny day with no wind and although cold, a perfect day for football.
Apart from the train stopping for 5 minutes just beyond Clapham Junction, with the only information being the driver saying “We don’t normally stop here”, I had an incident free journey and got off the train at Fleet with close to a spring in my step.
That was soon knocked out of me as I discovered that the Internet had been incorrect and the bus that I needed to take to get from Fleet to Hartley Wintney didn’t run on a Saturday. I guess I could have walked from Winchfield station but the bus from Fleet seemed to be the easier route. But I was damned if I was going to be stopped on a lovely day and I decided to cut my losses and take a taxi. I was in good time so I watched a few taxis pull into the station, wrote down their numbers and then gave them a call. The first company had no availability but my next call got a positive result from Hart cabs. I have to say I was hugely impressed with them. Both there and pack I only had to wait about five minutes and I even got a football enthusiast driver on the return journey who was fascinated with the whole groundhopping concept.
Hartley Wintney is a nice little village with plenty of green areas and a variety of shops, it seems particularly big on barbers. Three red and white barber signs on a High street only about 100 yards long. No apparent chippy was the only downer for me.
Whilst mooching about, I needed to use the public convenience. Whilst doing my thing, a workman came in, unzipped and did his thing, all the time continuing a conversation on a mobile phone. Is it just me, but who would do that?? I attempted to piss really loudly to make my point, I discovered that this isn’t really possible!
The ground is a simple five minute walk from the village. A small stand on the far side and a large clubhouse with the lunchtime game being projected for all to see.
I had my lunch here. Cheeseburger and chips served by a very nice lady. Halfway through serving me, she announced that the price was wrong on the blackboard and should be 50p higher than shown. She still charged me the original price which made me feel like I was getting a bit of a bargain. She toasted a burger bun, put half of it in front of me and then about 30 seconds later, came and through it in the bin. Not sure why as it looked perfectly okay to me. Anyway the burger and chips was actually very nice.
I sat outside for 30 minutes, in the sun it was really pleasant and enjoyed watching the ballboys kicking a ball around. I love the way that they accept a newcomer immediately and within minutes, this new lad was rushing around as if he’d known these boys all his life.
Bowie tunes were being proudly played from the P.A system, absolutely right in the week that the great man died.
Both the Bradford fans and the Hartley Wintney officials I spoke to were really friendly with a good sense of humour. Everything that attracts me to non-league football was on show at this game.
A really enjoyable game, Bradford scored on about 10 minutes and Hartley Wintney equalised just over 5 minutes later. Really even after this, the game could have gone either way until Hartley Winteney scored twice in the last 15 minutes with a suspiciously offside looking goal and an injury time bonus.
A most enjoyable day, a lovely club who now have Hereford in the next round. I will be looking on with interest.