No.33 - Sat 20th February 2016; Cambs County League Premier Division;                                2pm at Girton College Playing Field; Huntingdon Road; Cambridge; Cambs; CB3 0JG


Matchday images (60)

Hardwick (2) 2 Wisbech St Mary (1) 2

'Cracking College Capers'.

'Travellers may be interested to learn that Hardwick Football Club, members of the Cambridgeshire County League Premier Division, is playing most of its home games at the beautiful Girton College sports ground in Cambridge this season, having moved matches from the Hardwick playing fields. It is with this in mind that I have checked the latest round of fixtures in the league; thankfully my research pays off as I discover that the club is taking on title chasing Wisbech St Mary's in an important top of the table clash at the sports ground located off Huntingdon road on the outskirts of the city this afternoon.

Girton College forms one of thirty-one constituent colleges at the University of Cambridge. Established in 1869 it was originally seen as a college for women before becoming a co-educational institution in 1976. Held in typical Victorian red brick design, most was built by architect Alfred Waterhouse between 1872 and 1887. It provides extensive sports facilities, an indoor swimming pool, an award-winning library and a chapel with two organs. There is an accommodation annexe, known as Wolfson Court, situated in Cambridge's western suburbs, close to the Centre for Mathematical Sciences. This annexe was opened in 1961 and provides housing for graduates, and for second year undergraduates and above.

The college has a tradition of fostering student equality, kept alive with a balanced male-to-female ratio, a ballot system for room distribution and several equal-access admittance schemes. It also has a reputation of encouraging talent in music. Several art collections are held on the main site, including People's Portraits, the millennial exhibition of the Royal Society for Portrait Painters, and an Egyptian collection containing the world's most reproduced portrait mummy.

Among Girton college's notable alumni are the queen Margrethe II of Denmark; The Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington; the comedian/author Sandi Toksvig; the comedian/broadcaster/GP Phil Hammond and the anthropologist Marilyn Strathern, also Mistress from 1998 to 2009.

The sports ground (only one of a few in the University that shares its sports facilities within the college complex) can be approached in a couple of ways. If you come off the A14 (heading towards the city) a narrow entrance off Huntingdon Road (the address given in the Cambs League handbook) leads you along a neat gravel driveway past the college buildings and takes you down a cul-de-sac which ends close to the changing pavilion. Although this involves less walking there is limited parking here and you have to follow the one way system and negotiate a security barrier in order to get out of the college grounds. Alternatively if you drive further along Huntingdon Road or are coming the other way you can follow signs for the village of Girton by turning into Girton Road at the traffic lights. A narrow driveway along here on the left takes you into the college grounds where you can leave your vehicle in the college car park (which by-passes the barrier) but means you have further to walk to reach the playing fields.

As you would expect the tree-lined site is beautifully maintained having the benefit of a full-time grounds' person who tends to the lovingly maintained pitches catering for football, rugby and cricket. There is a smart pavilion situated on the near side of the grounds. Complete with glass and wooden frontage (including an ornate clock on the overhanging gable) it provides a function room (with a bust in memory of alumni Dr John Marks in situ) as well as changing facilities for players and officials (who use rooms at either end). It's a bit of a trek from here to the main pitch which is marked out beyond a cricket square on the very far side of the field. It is close to the A14 carriageway below and you can see and hear vehicles passing by at great regularity throughout your stay. One end of the field is bordered by housing whilst a couple of tall farm outbuildings can be found beyond the other. During games a number of benches are positioned close to the half-way line for use by both squads. As you look back towards the pavilion there are some terrific views of the college buildings which in places are partly obscured by some tall trees.

Sitting in the top five positions of the premier league table both sides still have title ambitions. The Fenland visitors are two places better off occupying second spot behind leaders Great Shelford FC. When the sides last met each other in Wisbech just before Christmas the Saints won a close game by 2-1. Judging by the large complement of substitutes sitting pitch side before kick-off both sides appear to be at full strength this afternoon.

Hardwick soon settle into their rhythm and take control of the game going two up within the first fifteen minutes. By half-time the visitors pull one back to give themselves a chance of getting something out of the game. After scoring a penalty midway through the second half the Saints look as though they will go on to win the game but it ends all square with each side earning a single point. I imagine Hardwick will feel most annoyed ruing the fact that they didn't manage to hang on to their lead. 

A sparse crowd reaching only ten spectators makes up the official attendance. The game played in the midst of several squally showers and a stiff chilly breeze takes place on a beautifully flat and well mown surface; I understand this is in part down to the Hardwick goalkeeper Barney who is by coincidence the full-time college grounds-man here. Neither programmes nor refreshments are available.

A visit to the Girton College Sports Ground is highly recommended to all hoppers. I would urge you to double check the venue before setting out. Once or twice when neither the Reserves or A teams are playing at home the first team have been known to revert games back to the Hardwick playing field at short notice.

The club operates a terrific website, the address for which is shown in the links section. Along with a regular twitter feed it is an invaluable resource. In addition you can find out more by logging onto the Full-Time site which covers all league fixture, results and tables within its pages. The joys of visiting beautiful grounds continues...have fun wherever you go!  


FGIF Match Stats

Scorers: (H) Heron (6); Chandler (12) and (A) Knowles (25); McManus (pen 67)   

Attendance: 10; Admission and Programme: None; Match rating: 4/5; Ground rating: 4/5.



edited on 14/02/16