No.2 - Sat 8th August 2015; Peterborough & District League Division One;                           2pm at the Towns End Road; Wittering; Peterborough; Cambridgeshire; PE8 6HB 


Matchday images (60)

Wittering (5) 5  Warboys Town (0) 1

'Wittering Fly High!'

'Wittering is a small village located just inside the Cambridgeshire county boundary and is about three miles south of the market town of Stamford in neighbouring Lincolnshire and about nine miles to the west of the city of Peterborough. Most of us associate the village with the RAF base which is clearly visible from the northbound carriage of the A1. The runways at the site cross over the boundary into Northamptonshire.

The Royal Flying Corps established a military airfield at Wittering as far back as 1916, becoming RAF Wittering in 1924, a leading base for RAF Fighter Command in the Second World War when the station was very active during the Blitz in the early 1940's. The airfield was bombed five times, with seventeen people being killed on 14 March 1941. Two years later No 141 Squadron RA was moved in, operating Mosquitoes which went on to down 151 Luftwaffe planes and 89 V-1 flying bombs during the intervening war years.

From 1968 until late 2010 the station was known as the home of the Harrier, the first squadron to have a vertical take-off aircraft. In May 1971, four aircraft from 1 Sqn operated from HMS Ark Royal, marking the first time a plane of any sort had operated from an aircraft carrier.

In 1982, six Harrier GR3 aircraft were taken down to the Falklands on SS Atlantic Conveyor, surviving an Exocet attack. In June of that year twelve GR3 aircraft were flown from Wittering, via RAF Ascension Island and mid-air refuelling with Victor tankers, on an 8,000 mile journey to the islands in 17 hours, which at the time set an RAF record.

Towards the end of October 2010 parliament announced that the Harrier would be retired with all of Wittering's jets being stored at neighbouring RAF Cottesmore. Since that time the station has re-roled to be the home of the 'A4 Force' (the Royal Air Force's Air Combat Service Support Units (ACSSUs)). In November 2011 the Ministry of Defence announced that forty or so Service personnel from HQ 12 (Air Support) Engineer Group, part of the Royal Engineers, moved from Waterbeach Barracks to RAF Wittering in March 2013. Today about a hundred personnel work on the base which is used mainly for training and education purposes.

RAF Wittering is also the birthplace of the RAF Gliding and Soaring Association's Four Counties Gliding Club, originally set up in March 1955. Following several relocations, the club returned to Wittering in late 2005, before being closed in late 2014. RAF Wittering is also HQ of the ATC East Midlands Wing.

Moving on to my visit. Wittering Football Club is only a stoneís throw from the RAF base and can easily be reached from the A1 with the main entrance on Towns End Road situated opposite one the air base's control gates. A small car park off Silver Birch Court leads you to the smart Sports and Social club (adjacent to the Parish Hall) with access to the playing field through the bar or via a path leading around the back.

The site, predominantly bordered by ex-service personnel housing and a local primary school, is neatly landscaped with trees and shrubs along its perimeter. To the left there is a modern purpose built brick pavilion partly obscured behind a high green wire fence Ė inside the foyer a number of pennants and photos adorn the walls to add a bit of interest. The main (unroped) pitch is marked out immediately opposite here on the far side of the field.

Although the fixture programme for most clubs in the Peterborough & District League starts today this is actually the hostís second game of the season. A cracking 3-1 victory at the Queen Eleanor School over Stamford Belvedere last Saturday (as part of the organised UCL/PDL Hop) means that the Harriers (club nickname) currently sit at the top of the table. There is definitely a buzz about the place before kick-off as the side takes to the field in its new navy blue kit. Today sees the visit of fenland side Warboys Town, former members of the Eastern Counties League (thatís possibly back in the late 1980's or early 1990's - where does the time go!).

Sadly the game (as a spectacle) is over by half-time with the home side taking an impressive 5-0 lead going into the break. Despite putting in an improved performance and pulling a goal back in the second half, the away side run eventually out of steam and resign themselves to defeat. The victory is celebrated for those standing touchline as newly promoted Wittering maintain their 100% record.

The match played on a decent pitch in mostly sunny conditions is attended by forty spectators. Despite the lack of cover or dug outs some fans choose to watch from the veranda at the back of the social club Ė not for me though as itís a bit too far from the pitch to watch the action properly. Although the club doesnít issue matchday programmes, a varied range of cold food and drinks is available from the well appointed club bar during the afternoon.

A visit to this friendly club in north Cambridgeshire comes highly recommended. For more details about fixtures, results and tables click on the link shown below. The joys of early season hopping continue, have fun wherever you go!    

FGIF Match Stats

Scorers: (H) Middleton (15, 24), Steele (34, 38), Booker (39) and (A) Moult (64) 

Attendance: 56; Admission: Free; Programme: None; Match rating: 4/5; Ground rating: 4/5.



edited on 09/08/15