No.19 - Sat 21st November 2015; Norfolk County FA Junior Cup Round Four;                           1.30pm at Sloughbottom Park; Drayton Road; Norwich; Norfolk; NR3 2PW


Matchday images (48)

Norman Wanderers (0) 1  East Harling (2) 7

'Wanderers face pitch battle...'

'Not for the first time in recent weeks the heavens have opened once again to cause havoc with my hopping plans. In fact it's been raining here for the last couple of days and with more of the wet stuff forecast I am not feeling at all confident of finding a game that easily. Been a persistent (pardon the pun!) type I make a very short list of possible hopper-tunities and put my basic meteorological forecasting skills to the test deciding eventually to head for Norwich where the weather (according to the BBC weather site) is set to improve by mid afternoon. My first choice game is the Norfolk FA Junior Cup tie featuring Norman Wanderers Football Club (members of the Norwich & District Saturday League) with Jarrolds FC (coincidentally in the same league) providing a back up just in case. A quick phone call to helpful secretary Clive Pilgrim at midday confirms the game is still on and it's all systems go to reach the ground ahead of the earlier than usual 1.30pm scheduled kick-off. 


Norman Wanderers FC play at the expansive and somewhat bizarrely named Sloughbottom Park, a lovely tree-lined council-owned venue located on the Norwich Ring Road in the north west of the city. The venue is a popular place for joggers, ramblers and dog walkers as well as playing host to numerous local football clubs and teams who use the facilities and pitches at the weekend. A new multi use games area also offers further sporting opportunities including basketball and five-a-side.


A narrow entrance marked by a pair of wrought iron gates leads to the park which can only be accessed by the public on foot. After leaving vehicles in what is a very bumpy rutted car park immediately to the left, visitors walk from here through the gates and along a narrow path to the ornate pavilion sited in the middle of the park. Supported by several large ornate stone pillars and accessed on all sides via a row of steps it's a delightful elevated building which houses a number changing rooms inside. Five parallel adult football pitches and a couple of smaller junior sized areas are marked out on the playing field which is banked along both ends to give a panoramic view of the action particularly from the far side of the venue. 


As I arrived the rain seemed to get heavier. Although players from the visiting side, East Harling FC, were already out warming up on the pitch closest to the pavilion they didn't really look particularly happy knocking the ball around on what was becoming an increasingly slippery and in parts waterlogged surface. The referee who turned up late walked over to the pitch for a closer inspection. It was clear that the pitch was unplayable and it was only a matter of time before the game was going to be called off by the match official. But as they say first impressions can be deceptive and news quickly got back to the changing rooms through some of the players that there might be a chance of some play if one of the other adjoining pitches could be used instead. After ten minutes of thorough deliberation and much to-ing and fro-ing the referee instructed the nets be taken down and carried over to the other side of the field to another pitch where a much better playing surface had passed his test. Game on! Phew!


Just as the referee and players had assembled ready for kick-off which had only been delayed by some ten minutes the sun (as if on cue) came out from behind the clouds to reveal a lovely blue sky and add a feeling of relief to those gathered around the perimeter. Despite a bitter cross-wind swirling overhead the players adapted quickly to the conditions. For the record it was East Harling from the Anglian Combination League who showed their superior class to dominate proceedings coming out on top with a convincing 7-1 victory to book their place in the last eight of the competition. The match was attended by twenty spectators including Jack Reed who had come over with the visitors to capture some action footage on his video camera set up on the touchline. I think I walked in front of it a couple times and may now appear on YouTube by default!


I was also joined at pitch side by Clive Pilgrim the affable Wanderers club secretary whom I had phoned earlier in the day. He explained with enthusiasm that the club began life playing in local leagues (including the Norwich Business Houses League amongst others) back in the 1950's representing the neighbouring Mousehold housing estate. After a meeting in the Norman (Leisure) Centre in Bignold Road a decision was made in 1996 to set up a new team called Norman Wanderers so that youngsters from the area could continue playing together. Indeed two lads Darren Carver and Kirk Goodall are still playing for the club...nineteen years later! It's an incredible story really underlined by the fact that the club has come a long way since then being the lowest ranked side playing in Norfolk Junior Cup today!


For more details about the club, the league and Norfolk FA county cup competitions, check out the links given below. The joys of hopping at multi-pitch venues in pouring rain in cup competitions continues. Have fun wherever you go...                 




FGIF Match Stats

Scorers: (H) Kenny (61) and (A) Morris (34); Durrant (44); Ramsbottom (53, 85), Williams (62), Senior (69, 74)   

Attendance: 20; Admission and Programme: None; Match rating: 3/5; Ground rating: 3/5.



edited on 22/11/15