Wow, where did this one come from! I originally intend to spend the Bank Holiday Monday having a long lie-in after combining footy and family duties all weekend, but I’m reading the Loughborough Echo and notice some local fixtures being played on the Monday. A bit of internet research on games further afield and I spot an enticing double header taking in two United Counties Premier Division games, including that of league leaders and champions-elect Daventry Town. The only possible problem is the weather.
However, with the United Counties website indicating my chosen games are on, I take a chance and drive down to Wellingborough Town to be met by a ‘car park full’ sign. No problem, there’s a pub car park next door, a retail park across the road, and a Tesco 50 yards further away. I opt for the latter and walk back to the Dog & Duck ground where the players are warming up on a hard but frost-free pitch. The ground consists of one reasonably-sized covered stand, and flat-standing elsewhere, save for an elevated section in front of the bar. The Victoria Mills ground of fellow United Counties side Wellingborough Whitworth is right next door, and players of the latter get a free view of the game from the rear steps of their own clubhouse.
The bar at the Dog & Duck is reasonably cosy on this extremely cold day, but not cosy enough to have any decent beer on sale. Likewise the Burger Monster snack bar outside has every kind of meat burger you could possibly conceive, but nothing for the only Veggie in football. I opt for a bag of nuts, promising myself something edible at the next game.
Wellingborough are having a tough season and with visitors Cogonhoe United sitting pretty in the top half of the table, it’s expected that the latter will make most of the running. They do play the better football in the first half, and subsequently turn round a goal to the good. After the break, however, it’s the home side that make most of the running, and deservedly equalise late on, a cue for a frantic finish with both teams going close.
Forty minutes after the final whistle, I’m pulling up outside the Browns Road home of Daventry Town. The stadium is currently work-in-progress, the assembled punters having to make do without any food or drink (bar opening on January 9th). Amongst the crowd are a few individuals I saw at Wellingborough earlier, doubtless attracted by the double-header, just like my good self.
The ref is giving the bone hard pitch a bone hard look, but it looks like game on, although I’m sweating a la Margate until the match actually kicks off. Daventry have only dropped five points all season and with visitors Rothwell Corinthians struggling towards the foot of the table, it seems only a matter of time before the floodgates open.
To be fair the visitors acquit themselves very well on a difficult surface, and go close in the early stages before Town get on the sheet. Even 3-0 down at the break you have to give them credit for taking the game to their hosts. The second half is much the same, but Daventry know how to play the balls into areas that hurt, and in 30-goal striker Tom Berwick they have the firepower to finish it. At 4-0 he’s substituted, allowing his replacement Danny Nelson to notch a fifteen minute hat trick after coming off the bench.
You could say that 7-0 flatters the home team in that they never really dominate their plucky opponents, but the scoreline demonstrates their ability to find the gaps and exploit them to the full – the mark of a good team. They look destined for promotion to the Southern League at the end of the season and talk around the ground is of a third stand being added sometime soon to meet grading criteria.
So I don’t get the lie-in I promised myself, and I end the day with a distinct chill in my toes. Nine goals in a day’s entertainment, however, is more than adequate compensation.
Programmes: Wellingborough £1.50 on sale just inside the turnstile. Mainly full of league website stuff; Daventry FREE given away at the turnstile. Glossy and a decent read, can’t fault the price!
Floodlight Pylons: Four each at both grounds.
Parakeets: Cold enough for penguins
Club Shop: A shack on one side at Wellingborough, although goods on sale in the bar to order. Nothing doing at Daventry.
Toilets: In the bar at Wellingborough, a portacabin behind one of the stands at Daventry
Tannoy Music: Very little at Wellingborough and Zilch at Daventry.
Player with the quirkiest name: Wellingborough’s Stuart ‘Gander’ Goosey