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.