No.16 - Sat 1st November 2014; Cambridgeshire County League; Division 2A; 2pm at Thaxted Recreation Ground; Newbiggen Street; Thaxted; Saffron Walden; Essex; CM6 2QT
Matchday images (48) https://picasaweb.google.com/footballgroundsinfocus/ThaxtedRangersFC
Thaxted Rangers (1) 4 Cambourne Rovers (0) 3
'Blowing the Final Whistle'...
'This was definitely a day to forget. I’m not sure about you but there seems to be a worrying trend in local football at the moment where teams either don’t turn up for games or, for some reason, call it off being unable to fulfil a fixture. Many excellent websites regularly highlight games where matches have been called off beforehand because one of the teams cannot raise a side. It happens every week. This often affects reserve teams or those playing in cup competitions. In several minor county cup games a club may have to travel a long way to get to a game – perhaps the early start prevents some players attending due to work or family commitments or maybe they just don’t fancy it anymore?!
Well you can now add to the list the ‘no show’ of officials to games. Certainly over the last couple of seasons I’ve arrived at venues only to find out that the referee has not yet arrived. I can think of two occasions where a club official has welcomed me at the entrance thinking I was actually the match referee! You’ve guessed right, yes today was another example of this alarming state of affairs as I arrived at my chosen game to find that the man in the middle had failed to turn up.
It was already a quarter to two and there were only fifteen minutes to go before kick-off time (the first weekend of 2pm starts after the clocks moved back). Faced with a dilemma I had a choice of either staying put to see what happened next or get back in the car and head somewhere else. By now it was too late to get to a new ground in time. As a fall back I could make a re-visit with several three o’clock kick offs on the hopping drawing board: Saffron Walden Town FC only five miles away seemed the best bet as The Bloods were playing a home in an ECL fixture. As I was deliberating I noticed through the car window that a chap dressed in full referee’s kit was quickly making his way onto the middle of the pitch to start the game. Being inquisitive and desperate I got out and made my way over ready for the start – it was 2.07pm. I was told by one of the home substitutes that his manager had stepped up to the plate and was ready to get the game started. I decided to revert to Plan A and stay put.
To be honest the game, a Cambridgeshire County Division 2A fixture turned out to be a real cracker...well until the last five minutes, that is. Despite going down 2-0 just after the break visitors Cambourne Rovers fought back doggedly to lead 3-2 with fifteen minutes remaining. It was end to end stuff and following a quick counter attack Thaxted Rangers deservedly replied within five minutes to level the score at 3-3. It was a frantic finish to what had been a terrific game of football.
What followed completely ruined a great game. In a last gasp push the hosts sent the ball over into the box as they looked for a late winner. As two players challenged for the ball both fell to the ground in the tussle for possession. After the ball had been cleared the referee blew the whistle for what seemed to be a Cambourne free-kick. To my horror and the complete surprise to everyone watching pitch side he had awarded a penalty instead. Needless to say the spot kick was converted and then (inexplicably) he signalled for full-time. In the ensuing mayhem (with the visiting players still protesting) the game had ended prematurely on a really sour note. You couldn’t make it up – it was just incredible! Need I say more?
Later that evening I checked the match stats on the excellent FA website. To my surprise I found the following message (which sums up the situation perfectly) that had been sent in by one of the Cambourne players as an attachment to his notes at the foot of the page: it read –
01/11/14 21:37. The hints in the title – Cambridgeshire. We travelled to Essex, 80 mile round trip, no referee again! If you can't cover matches why accept teams from other counties?
The game attended by only three spectators was played on a well grassed undulating pitch in blustery but bright conditions – amazing to think it was only the start of November. There were no programmes (the club doesn’t issue) or refreshments available at the game.
The ground itself which is rather basic is found close to the centre of Thaxted village off the B184 (Newbiggen Street) at the junction with the B1051 (for Great Sampford), some seven miles from Saffron Walden town. A narrow entrance and car park leads to the tree-lined playing field where a large changing pavilion and adjoining children’s play park is situated at the nearest end. A colourful logo adorns the side of the changing rooms. There is only one pitch on site which is un-roped and bordered on the far side by bushes and hedges (leading to many wasted minutes spent in ball retrieving).
Hopefully normal service will be resumed next week. The trials and tribulations of hopping continue. Have fun wherever you decide to go!'
FGIF Match Stats
Scorers: (H) McDowell (44, 46), Jiggins (80), Perry (pen 85) and (A) Seagraves (58), McGee (63), Day (74)
Attendance: 3; Admission: Free; Programme: None; Match rating: 3/5; Ground rating: 3/5.
edited on 02/11/14