No.20 - Sat 29th November 2014; Cambridgeshire County League Division 2B;                         2pm at Mepal Recrteation Ground; Witcham Road; Mepal; Ely; Cambs; CB6 2AG 


Matchday images (56)

Mepal Sports (0) 0  Fordham (0) 2

'Sports succumb to superior skill'

'Owing to family commitments itís only a short trip from Racing HQ for my footie fix today. My quest to tick off all the Cambs County League club grounds continues apace as I select the Division 2B match at Mepal Sports Football Club who are entertaining Fordham at their modest recreation ground in Witcham Road. The journey only takes thirty minutes as I arrive with time to spare before the 2pm kick off. 

The village of Mepal in East Cambridgeshire is located off the main A142 midway between Ely and Chatteris. It's a Fenland setting borne out by the fact the village is less than ten metres above sea level. The Old Bedford River and the New Bedford River (also known as the Hundred Foot Drain) run very close on the northwestern side of the village, and the only important bridges of the rivers are found in Mepal. The old and new rivers, originally modified by the Victorians, offer the main drainage route for the Fens and retain a major flood plain between the two river beds. The flood plain typically floods between November and March of each year. Listed as Mepahala at the start of the 13th century, the village's name means "Nook of land of a man called Meapa''.


The area also attracts many visitors to the well (brown) sign-posted Mepal Outdoor Centre a purpose-built outdoor activity centre offering a wide range of adventurous activities in the heart of the Cambridgeshire Fens. Open all year round, it offers fun and challenging outdoor experiences to schools, colleges, youth groups, clubs and charities.


The football club plays its games at the Mepal Recreation ground in Witcham Road. A landscaped entrance (complete with Football Foundation sign to welcome visitors) opens out into a small gravel car park behind the impressive pale bricked pavilion opened in 2012 with its modern sloping roof and solar panels. The building which doubles as a community use facility provides changing accommodation at one end for players and officials.


Interestingly a number of neatly presented notices and photos fashioned in green and white encapsulated cards is arranged on the club noticeboard to outline a brief potted history of the club: it appears that a football club in Mepal first existed in 1934-35 playing at a pitch on Pearse Rayners Field. The club competed in the Isle League in the 1960's and won the Cambridgeshire Lower Junior Cup in 1976 after beating Gedney Hill in the final held at March Town FC. They moved to their current site from Chestnut Way in the 1980's.


Outside a sturdy green shipping container houses the important pitch marking and grounds-man's equipment. The main (un-roped) pitch is found on the far side of the playing field around the back of the pavilion. As it is bordered by low hedges along two of its sides many minutes are lost every game when missing balls are retrieved from its dense foliage.   


The match labelled as a bit of a David versus Goliath contest certainly appeals to the neutral travelling fan. The hosts who have made an indifferent start to the season have only won twice and lost their other six matches to remain third from bottom of the table (above Cottenham Reserves and Bluntisham Reserves Ė the two sides whom they have defeated). In sharp contrast the visitors (and league leaders) come into the game on the back of a fine run of form as an unbeaten side having won eight and drawn two of their opening ten league games. Based on this evidence I wonder whether Mepal can do the impossible and spring a surprise or will Fordham score a hatful of goals to add further points to their impressive tally so far. Itís all to play for!


Although Fordham do have plenty of possession and show bags of skill itís Mepal who have the better chances during the first half. Despite being pinned back into their own half of the field they manage hit their opponentís goal frame twice with both strikes unsurprisingly coming from counter attacking moves. The deadlock is finally broken mid-way through the second half when ex-Newmarket Town FC (Eastern Counties League) stalwart Vinnie Long places a beautifully taken free-kick into the top left hand corner of the net. Sports fight back and again hit the woodwork but cannot find an equaliser. The result remains in doubt until the end when Fordham score their second deep into stoppage time as John Ford nets from close range to help his team take all three points and maintain their lead at the top. Itís hard on the hosts who could so easily have got something from the game had they converted their chances. For the neutral itís a great advert for the lower divisions of the Cambs County League.


The match played in sunny but cold conditions on a lovely playing surface attracts just ten spectators. As expected neither programmes or refreshments are on offer during my visit. More information about club fixtures and results can be obtained from the generic Full Time website (see link below). As always the joys of Fenland hopping continue...        

FGIF Match Stats

Scorers: (H) N/A and (A) Long (68); Ford (90+1) 

Attendance: 10; Admission: Free; Programme: None; Match rating: 3/5; Ground rating: 3/5.



edited on 02/12/14