No.14 - Sat 17th October 2015; Bedfordshire County League Division One;                          2.30pm at Ickleford Sports Club; Chambers Lane; Ickleford; Hitchin; Herts; SG5 3YA 

 

Matchday images (34) https://picasaweb.google.com/footballgroundsinfocus/IcklefordFC

Ickleford (2) 3  Riseley Sports (0) 1

'What's in a name?'

'The wonderful world of non league football can at times be a really confusing place especially when it comes to trying to work out the identity of some of the teams taking part in it. Take for example Ickleford Football Club. According to those in the ground hopping fraternity who make it their business to log these things, there seems to be more than one club with this name. Not only that but they each play in different leagues. And (to throw another spanner in the works), they apparently play at the same venue. No, I'm not making it up. 

 

So in order to unravel the situation I have decided to consult one of the best and the most trusted hopping sites there is, namely the Non League Matters Forum to find out a bit more. My basic and rather haphazard research takes me to the Restructuring section where I find I'm not on my own in trying to solve this conundrum. Several posters are also in a quandary. Eventually after bit more digging, the league sites reveal that there are two sides both called Ickleford. For the record it appears one plays in the Bedfordshire County Football League and the other in the Herts Senior County League. What is more both (separate) clubs play their matches at the same ground, namely the Ickleford Sports and Recreation Club off Chambers Way in the village. Got that. I certainly hope so!

 

With all of this in mind I decide for my hopping fix today to take in the BCFL Division One game which sees the visit of Riseley Sports to the Sports and Recreation Club for a Division One fixture. The ground can be easily found from the A505 by taking the Bedford Road from Hitchin and once in the village turning left down Turnpike Lane and then left again down Chambers Lane (which joins Walnut Way).

 

From first impression this is a lovely enclosed cricket ground which has allowed its facilities to be shared by football. Indeed the tree-lined site has a natural oval shape which lends itself easily to the summer sport. To the left and adjacent to the tiny car park is a smart spacious two storey pavilion (which also incorporates some squash courts) housing changing downstairs and a bar on the first floor. On the grassed area outside there are cricket nets and covers as well as an area for petanque no less! To the right are a couple of sight screens positioned behind the boundary line. The main (and only) football pitch is marked out behind the cricket square and this runs parallel to some really tall fir trees that border the far touchline. A wooden seat positioned close to the half-way line is the only pitch-side furniture here. 

 

The match which features two mid table sides is not a classic. For the record it's the hosts Ickleford who take all three points with an uninspiring 3-1 victory played out on a well manicured surface in mainly dull, overcast and at times drizzly conditions. Only four spectators are in attendance including fellow hopper Keith Cockburn who having travelled over from Cambridge takes his position close to the half-way line using his trademark shooting stick for comfort. Although the club doesn't issue programmes a range of cold snacks and drinks is available from the bar throughout the afternoon. 

 

I learned (from one of the subs warming up alongside me) that the club has made over the years a strong Italian connection within the local community. Founded over fifty years ago and playing mostly in and around the Bedford area they were formerly known as Henlow Italians FC before becoming Marabese Ceramics FC more recently. The links have sadly not been as strong with only a couple of Italians now turning out regularly for the club. 

 

A visit to this cracking little ground in leafy Hertfordshire comes highly recommended to all travellers. You'll certainly not be disappointed by what you find here I'm sure. For cricket lovers I'm told that the club operates both junior and senior sides with three teams turning out in the Herts Cricket League on a Saturday and one in the Beds Cricket League on Sunday. For more details about the IS&RC as well as the Bedfordshire County Football League click on the appropriate links shown below. The joys of unearthing those tricky hopping conundrums continues...have fun wherever you go!             

FGIF Match Stats

Scorers: (H) Micelli (22pen, 26), D'Angelo (76) and (A) Simmons (52)   

Attendance: 4; Admission: Free; Programme: None; Match rating: 3/5; Ground rating: 3/5.

Links

http://full-time.thefa.com/Index.do?league=7195521

http://www.bedfordshirefootballleague.co.uk/

http://www.icklefordpc.com/html/sports_club.html

 

edited on 18/10/15