All posts by jonsmalldon

At the match: Eastbourne Town v Broadbridge Heath

Not your usual Southern Combination crowd – (C) Jon Smalldon 2017, All rights reserved

Henry Blofeld once described The Saffrons as being the quintessential English venue.  He was in Eastbourne for the cricket, as indeed Sussex will be later this summer, but, today, whilst there was cricket (and bowls) to see at the Saffrons the noise, colour and crowd were here for the final day of the Southern Combination season.

To the sound of almost constant drumming and the sight of flags and the occasional flare, two sides with only pride to play for did a pretty good job of creating a match worth giving a damn about.  Eastbourne took the lead with a neat lob before being pegged back by an absolute scorcher of a shot early in the second half.  After a fair bit of nip and tuck a smart header from a corner sealed the deal.  Although some of the tackles had a feel of a pre-season friendly (obviously no one wants to be damaged heading into the holiday season), overall it was a pretty enjoyable game.  My younger was pleased with his burger and only occasionally complained about how long 45 minutes takes to pass so all was definitely good.

And whilst Blowers quintessential Englishness probably didn’t include ‘Still Hate Thatcher’ t-shirts I like to think there’s something defiantly and wonderfully welcomingly English about the knowing and knowledgeable inclusive passion that sport, even this far down the pyramid, can generate.

Some photos here.

Traditional Ales

(C) Jon Smalldon 2017 – All rights reserved

Fulham played Manchester United on 2 November, 2013.  This photo was taken on 23 April, 2017.   The Norman Arms closed in early 2014.  There are some less than favourable comments to be found online about the state the place was in then, contrasting with some nicer words a few years before.  It’s still boarded up now and history records that Fulham lost 3-1 and were, at the end of the season, relegated.

At the match: Hertfordshire Cheetahs at Hastings Conquerors

That would be a touchdown – (C) 2017 Jon Smalldon, All rights reserved

Over to Hastings and Bexhill rugby club which is now the home of Hastings Conquerors American football club.  Their visitors began life as the Chiltern Cheetahs in the mid 80s and lay claim to being the third oldest continuously playing club in the UK whereas Hastings are one of the newest.  No matter, old and young now face each other in the same division which, assuming I’m reading this right, sits at the foot of the British American Football pyramid.

Truth to be told, there were pleasures here today but a close contest wasn’t one of them.  Hertfordshire got ahead early and then scored often. On each down they seemed to have a few yards head start before Hastings closed them down.  When Hastings had the football they didn’t seem to have the same level of coordination and, in the first half (I left at half time owing to life getting in the way), picked up only one first down which they immediately blew by coughing up an interception touchdown.

The final score was 63-0 so a happy journey home for the visitors but a tough day at the office for the Conquerors.  But, at least, they now have an office which is a very nice place to watch sport. The rugby clubhouse serves a nice pint, the balcony is a splendid place to survey what’s going on, and, should they get a close game going, they will get more folk to stick around.  There was interest aplenty from a healthy contingent from Hastings & Bexhill as well as a good group of preconverted supporters. I’ll certainly be back and I may even make it past half time.

Photos here.

At the match: Westfield v Sidlesham

It was this sort of game. – (C) Jon Smalldon 2017, All rights reserved

“Is this your first time?”  So asked the Sussex groundhopper as I made my way through the muck covered path behind the goal to set up a position to take some photos.  I tried to appear quite the veteran of East Sussex soccer but my interlocutor, even more recently arrived, made my experience look puny.  This is someone who goes to Battle Baptists and Hollington when the heights of the County League get too dizzy.  I can’t compete with that.  I just took some photos instead.

But what of the game?  Well, we waited for a game of football to break out but it wasn’t that sort of afternoon.  There was a lot of effort, a lot of physicality and a lot of passion.  What there wasn’t, for most of the time, was anything resembling sustained, coordinated play.  In the first half, when the tackles flew, that was kind of fun.  In the second, as Westfield tired and neither team did much to inspire, it was less fun.  But I can’t be too sad.  Any match which features an exploding sugar bowl has to be worth remembering fondly.  For the record, Sidlesham won 3-1, overcoming an early deficit to run out deserved winners.

Nobody is going to claim what we saw today was a classic but, as the man who goes from game to game to game will no doubt agree, that’s not why we’re here in the first place.

Photos here.

41 / 365

41 / 365 - (C) Jon Smalldon 2017, All rights reserved
41 / 365 – (C) Jon Smalldon 2017, All rights reserved

Smarter people than me might think of Inclosure Acts.  Or maybe they’d dwell on the need for rules to decide who owns what fence and whose responsibility it is to maintain a fair and sound border.  We might get flippant and discuss boundary disputes and or think of Les Dawson talking over a garden fence with Roy Barraclough.  Maybe we could wonder about how thin pieces of budget wood implant themselves as solid, defined boundaries even as we watch foxes dig under them.

Photo here.