26th October 20100
I don't know who it was who described autumn as being the season of mists and mellow fruitfullness, but for this Saturday visit to the pretty town of St.Ives, they just about got it right. The purpose of our trip was to take in Rangers' United Counties League clash with the local outfit at Westwood. Now the 'boy' has moved 'up north' to university, I was accompanied on this adventure by the 'good lady' who fancied the idea of some early Christmas shopping. Christmas shopping, indeed! On a lovely sunny afternoon like this, with the golden leaves falling like confetti, there was only one place to be. Ninety minutes of footer, i.e. St.Ives Town v Deeping Rangers - always one of the more spicey games on our fixture list.
I do like the town of St.Ives, but for me it has lost some of its attraction since my mate Steve got rid of his shop selling football memorabilia. Located in the narrow warren of lanes near the river, it was a veritable Alladdins' Cave of goodies such as old programmes, etc. If you are lucky you will still catch him at any of the markets at Ely, Hunstanton and Clacton, of all places! Having parked up in good time we wandered down to the river where we eat a good lunch at one of the riverside cafes. Local Huntingdonshire cheese and bacon filling a locally grown jacket potato was not, perhaps, the most healthy of snacks, but, hey-ho, there would be the walk to the ground later to burn off the calories! After lunch, Lynn produced some stale bread which she proceeded to hurl in a determined fashion at the local wildfowl. This caused something of a stir on the river where ducks tussled with swans for the best bits. I was reminded of a story which had appeared in that weeks national press about a mother and her young son being told ,by a park warden, not to feed white bread to the ducks as it is not good for them! It would seem that from now on your local 'Donald' needs to be fed brown wholemeal instead, to aid digestion! Does that, I wondered, apply to the duck or the person eating it!
Then it was a short walk into town to look up at the somewhat green statue of Oliver Cromwell, who was a local of these parts, and points down at passers by with a rather accusing attitude. Strangely enough a duck was doing a fair balancing act on Ollie's pointing finger, looking down at us with an expression of discomfort, almost as if it had stomach ache! Ooooops!
And so Lynn took to the shops and I took the very pleasant walk down to the ground by the sports centre. The afor-mentioned golden leaves were still falling, but they were being tugged rather more strongly, now, by a persistent and chilly north wind. Through the churchyard and past some very expensive looking houses where I nearly tripped over a cat that sped out from some hiding place.
The ground at St.Ives, for me, always has an air of rustic charm. Bordered on two sides by private gardens and tall trees, it has a very 'country' type feel. The chap at the turnstile was jovial and quickly sold me an impressive looking proggie. But who was this on the front cover? Yes it was Cobby and JP, our two exe's! Was this some kind of wind up? The players were already out lumbering up, (yes I did get the right word), and the playing surface and ground looked a picture in the autumn sunlight. There were familiar faces in plenty amongst the gathered crowd and there was much speculation as to the days outcome. Liam Harrold was back, making his first appearance as a signing, alongside Daniel French, who I have seen playing for several local sides. Indeed Daniel looked very impressive early on and put a few testing balls into the box. However, it was Liam who got us all off our feet early on when he rocketed like a pheasant to meet a long cross and steer the ball home with his head. We looked really good going forward with the 'Handyman' causing all kinds of problems from the right, and 'Big Bird' (Matt Heron) running through from midfield. But then, approaching half time, something flickered, and we conceded two quick goals to go in 2-1 down. How did that happen!
The second half proved to contain little in the way of good football. The match seemed to descend into a somewhat scrappy and ill-tempered affair. 'Big Bird' got us back on terms after a mazy run, but St.Ives took all three points after converting a very dodgy penalty in the final seconds of time added on. Justice? I don't think so. Even some of the home players doubted the penalty. But that's football. There is always the next game, and as a very good friend of mine says, "What goes around comes around." COME ON YOU RANGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!