No.36  - Sat 5th March 2016; Bedfordshire County League Division Two;                             2.30pm at King George VI Playing Field; High Street; Clapham; Beds; MK41 6BW


Matchday images (70)

Clapham Sports (6) 6 LEA Sports PSG (1) 3

'Six of the best see Sports succeed'.

'There surely can't be many grounds more difficult to find than this one. Maybe it's me but after many years of travelling to watch football matches you would think it should get easier trying to track down those obscure sites hidden from immediate view. The glimpse of lights appearing from behind some trees; cars parked close together near an entrance or fans dressed in their club colours walking down the road (you know the sort of things I mean) all go in some way to help provide clues in helping us to reach our intended destinations.

To be honest though, I have, in recent years become quite lazy at navigating. Having ditched my paper maps and converted (despite some resistance and soul searching), to the joys of modern technology I have allowed our trusty Sat Nav to do most of the donkey work in getting us to places far and wide. As a result it is Serena (our default dash board travelling companion) that literally drop me off at the gate! I know these devices can be unpredictable and maybe not 100% accurate all the time but they can make a hopper's life that bit more comfortable. I would now even go as far as saying I would be lost (literally) without her!

Today things were going well as I approached the village of Clapham (based on the outskirts of Bedford) and a quick glimpse at my portable pal told me that the playing field was only half a mile away. After turning down the High Street the chequered flag soon appeared on the screen and a shrill voice told me I had at last reached my destination.

However as I looked out of the car window I couldn't see any sign (pardon the pun) of the village hall let alone a playing field along the terraced road I had stopped in. Driving down the adjoining road on the left was of little use as there was nothing there either. I turned back and continued further along the main street but it soon became clear from the layout (mainly shops) that I had probably gone too far. I know it sounds silly but being a proud person somehow prevented me from asking anyone for help. I persevered a bit longer. With time running out before kick off I finally relented and flagged down a aged pedestrian armed with bags of shopping for some guidance. He could sense my plight and reassuringly replied: 'It's back down there son - look for the narrow gap between the houses'. This put a smile back on my face in more ways than one: I hadn't been called son for some time! Sure enough a narrow (and I mean narrow) track soon appeared as I turned the car around again and headed the other way. I had finally made it.

Incredibly the driveway led to a really spacious car park at the end where the Clapham Village Hall soon came into view. I got out of the car and went through a tight opening between some some rather dilapidated buildings opposite (the changing rooms) and negotiated a winding path alongside a small pre-school site (with chickens) to the playing field beyond. Now who would have believed this was hidden away behind here? I suppose it could be compared to entering the tardis in an episode of Doctor Who - it was all quite surreal.

Surrounded by local housing this ground is a veritable hopping oasis. Marked out on the right hand side of the field, the main pitch is bordered by trees and gardens from the houses along Highbury Close, the adjacent road. Along here a couple of wooden benches offer some basic spectator seating. Buildings from the village hall are arranged behind the nearest goal. A spiked metal fence continues around the rest of the perimeter which is bordered by a mixture of trees and bushes. From pitch-side it is just about possible to make out the top of the picturesque methodist church set between the houses off the High Street.   

Today was my first ever taste of football in the BCFL Division Two. Visitors Lea Sports PSG from the village of Pirton arrive on the back of a league cup victory over Flitwick Town Reserves last week which ended with an exciting 10-9 win on penalties after finishing 0-0 and are to date a point above the hosts in a mid table position in the twelve team division. Clapham who have achieved success in several cup tournaments still have many league games in hand over the other sides around them and need to play catch up within the coming weeks. A close game is in prospect.

Thankfully the earlier heavy downpour (mixed with large hail stones) which had greeted me as I arrived had subsided by kick off. Despite opening the scoring within the first five minutes the visitors were soon in trouble and at the end of a pulsating half trailed 6-1 at the interval. I bet they never saw that coming! Although they rallied in the second half with two further goals, it was the hosts who took all three points to move up the table and towards the automatic promotion places.

The match played on an excellent well grassed surface was attended by a dozen spectators including friendly club secretary Robert Yates, an exiled Glaswegian (and Rangers fan) from Linlithgow who loves the grass roots game. After moving down south he followed Stevenage FC before getting involved in non league football. He told me how the club has built a strong pro-active committee since re-forming three seasons ago. Plans are afoot to combine the adult section of the club with Clapham Colts a junior side established many years ago to cater for a wider age range and give the youngsters the opportunity to fly the Clapham Sports banner as they get older. The wider aim is to eventually reach the Premier Division of the BCFL.

For more information about the club and the league click on the links for the excellent Bedfordshire County Football League site and the generic Full-Time pages shown below. The joys of using satellite navigation devices to locate obscure grounds continues (well almost!)...have fun reaching your destination, wherever you may go! 



FGIF Match Stats

Scorers: (H) Williams (9, 12), George (20, 22), O'Halloran (42), Bolton (43) and (A) Yearwood (4, 69); Hennam (78)   

Attendance: 12; Admission and Programme: None; Match rating: 4/5; Ground rating: 4/5.



edited on 06/03/16