“I think we’re the crowd,” I said to the man next to me as our conversation about the Scottish Welfare Football Association came to a close. “I think we are,” he agreed. The only other people around us, five minutes before kick off, were club members, match officials and players.
After a mostly dry week, albeit one with stormforce winds that blew Hastings’ seafront helter skelter over, Saturday morning saw virtually every local football match fall victim to waterlogged pitches. Biblical rain began at the sunrise and didn’t let up until well into the afternoon. Somehow the sodden Parish Field home of Westfield passed the test and so we had a football match. There weren’t many here to see it (although it did grow beyond the two I’d feared) and those who were there stood cowering under the inadequate shelter provided by the small patch of roof attached to the clubhouse. The players stood up to the test though and whilst the match was never even close to classic it was far more skilful and entertaining than we could ever have predicted.
The only goal came on 31 minutes via the boot of Nick Boutal. Clear chances were as rare as clean jerseys but even with that the posts of both teams were rattled and there was plenty of probing attack – even if they were often undone either by the conditions or by strong defence. Remarkably, again given the conditions, the quality of play was decent throughout and nobody felt the urge to use the slippery surface as an excuse to take someone out with a full-on slide. The Westfield no. 16 deserves credit for ending the match looking like he’d spent the previous two hours on a rugby field at the bottom of a ruck.
All in all, a good time was had by most – I’m sure Westfield would have been happier if they’d finished with a point although Montpelier probably did enough to justify plundering the spoils. Around me there was talk that Westfield’s much planned new ground over the road could be nearing reality. A decent home is the least this excellent club deserve.
(I took the camera. Resultant photos, all from the same vaguely dry spot, are here.)