No.30 - Sat 7th February 2015; Bedfordshire County Football League Division One;                    2.30pm at Groveside, Henlow; Beds; SG16 6AR 


Matchday images (34)

Henlow (0) 0  Elstow Abbey (0) 3

'Big guns have little fire power'

'Biggest is not always best. This is how I summed up my footy fix today as I took in the Bedfordshire County League Division Two top of the table clash between Henlow and opponents Elstow Abbey. A disappointing game featuring the league’s leading sides failed dismally to get my hopping juices flowing. In fact I would rank it as one of the poorest matches I’ve watched all season and didn’t live up to expectations.  


Before play it was Elstow who led the standings over visitors Henlow (by eight points) after completing the same number of games. On paper this would be a close fought contest, or so I thought. However after a fairly even opening ten minutes it was the visitors who went on to dominate the play. Despite missing a penalty early on they won the game with a comfortable 3-0 victory and three more points. It will be interesting to find out whether second placed side Cranfield United FC respond to the pressure. They still have four game in hand and have only dropped four points so far. Could they be the dark horses in the race for the title? 


The game was marred with ten minutes to go when a home defender saw red after calling the refere a '****head'! Incredibly he was unaware why he was asked to leave the field by the match official. Hoppers may be interested to learn that Callum Davenport (ex-Fulham FC) now turns out for Elstow. Apparently after quitting the professional game due to knee injury problems he came back to his native Bedfordshire where he now resides, works and still loves playing football.


The game played in dull, overcast conditions on a poor surface that cut up easily attracted only ten spectators. Out of this total four were neutrals and apart from myself included Peter Francis (league web editor extraordinaire, BCFL official and Stevenage FC season ticket holder) who is a terrific ambassador for the competition; Keith Redmond (ex-UCL referee and also BCFL committee member) and a hopper (who I have not come across before) from Hitchin who ‘walks’ great distances to games. In fact he thinks nothing of setting off from home and arriving at a game some ten miles away. He also posts (using the tag SME) on the excellent Tony Kempster Non League Matters Forum and his summary from today can be read below. I was indebted to long serving manager and club committee member Stephen Worboys who gave me directions before setting out at midday. Cheers fellas.


The ground found off Groveside is a few hundred yards from the town centre. Hoppers should be careful they take the correct turning to the club as they could end up in the local middle school (same address) which runs parallel. After coming down Church Road take the first turning right into Groveside otherwise you will by-pass it and enter the school grounds. Although the main car park is small and centred directly behind the goal there is plenty of space in the adjoining streets backing onto the field which also shares with cricket. A large new pavilion with glass frontage and ornate gabled clock dominates the site. The players changing rooms which face the car park are only a short walk to the un-roped pitch. There are no dug outs or spectator cover at pitch side. The club neither issue programmes nor provide refreshments for its home games. However paper chasers may be happy to know that today's visitors, Elstow, still issue. 

This was one of those days when the game did not live up to its expectations. However don’t let that put you off as a visit to this friendly club comes highly recommended to all hoppers. More details about the club and league can be accessed from the links shown below. Have fun whichever game you pick!!'.     

FGIF Match Stats

                Scorers: (H) N/A and (A) Cavill (48), Parrella (51), Cafferty (90+3)  

Attendance: 10; Admission: None; Programme: None; Match rating: 2/5; Ground rating: 3/5.


Additional Post (from SME on the NLM forum)

Beds County League Division One
Henlow 0-3 Elstow Abbey
Admission : N/A
Programme : N/A
Tea : N/A
Kick-off : 2.30pm

Walked from Hitchin via Ickleford and Arlesey (7.5 miles). The weather was drier today and, as the walk was via roads, I ended up less muddy. Henlow is served by no. 71/72 bus services from Hitchin, creating a half-hourly service but the buses take different routes through the village, the 72 running via Arlesey and heading west and the 71 via Henlow Camp heading north. Both buses end up at Bedford. The ground is conveniently situated just off the High Road with an impressive newly-built pavilion shared with the cricket club. Across the road (Park Lane) is a short alley leading directly to the well-known Engineers Arms where, after confirming the match was going ahead, I partook of a pre-match drink.

The game was between the top two teams in the division, albeit with Cranfield United lurking behind with games in hand. As a result of today, Elstow are now 8 points clear of Henlow and 9 points ahead of Cranfield who did not play. The first half was dominated by the visitors who did everything but score including a great tip-over by the home keeper, a weak penalty saved following a trip in the area and a couple of opportunities that looked easier to put into the goal than miss although the forwards contrived to do just that. The miss of the half came late on at the other end of the field but it would have been an injustice for Elstow to go in behind after all their good football. Any hopes that Henlow might take advantage of Elstow’s first-half profligacy were quickly erased by goals from a narrow angle very soon after the restart and a left-footed rocket from 20 yards out within another 5 mins. The visitors were comfortable for a while but continued to miss chances and Henlow came back into the game, creating opportunities of their own and were unlucky not to get at least one back which would have put pressure on their opponents over the last 10 mins or so. This was finally settled by another fine long-range strike for the visitors on 87 mins. Henlow were reduced to ten men by an act of utter stupidity by their centre back who, upon being told that he was going to be receive a yellow card for two previous foul tackles, told the referee what he thought of him, using abusive language, and instead was awarded a straight red for his pains.

I spent the game in the good company of the League Secretary, another local enthusiast and former referee, a ground hopper from Newmarket and the Elstow Abbey chairman which made a pleasant change to my normal solitary existence. Afterwards, I headed back down the alley to the Engineers Arms where I checked out today’s other football scores whilst enjoying another couple of pints. I caught the 1717 bus (no.71 route) from outside the pub back to Hitchin and my connecting transport home.


edited on 08/02/15