Hungerford 0 Eastbourne Borough 2 (20/8/16).
It was a full day out on the train to Berkshire for this match in the Conference South. A train to London Kings Cross them across on the tube to Paddington for the hour journey onto Hungerford. Its halfway between Reading and Swindon and you go through the former named as the trains travels to Hungerford.
Hungerford is a small Town with a population of less than 6,000. Its streets were quiet and the houses pleasant as I walked the ¾ of a mile to the ground. It was hard to envisage such a terrible incident happened here nearly 29 to the day years ago (19th Aug 1987). That was the day of the Hungerford massacre when a lone gunman shot dead his Mother and 15 other people as well as the shooting of another 16 survivors. Michael Ryan, the gunman later shot himself when cornered by Police. Today the Town was very quiet and tranquil. You cannot just come here and not think of one of the worst firearms incidents in British history.
I arrived at the ground on Bullpit lane and the football car park was met with a sign saying “wedding only”. There only seemed on turnstile point and that was behind the goal. This end housed the changing rooms, social club and function room where the wedding was talking place as it had been booked two years previously. The sponsors bar today was a marquee type tent on the far side of the ground. Down the left hand side was a small standing shelter and a seated stand by the half way line. There was the same on the other side of the pitch. At the top end of a slightly sloping pitch was a metal shelter with wood flooring for standing spectators. There was also a very small bit of roofing at the changing room end. The ground holds 1,500.
The Crusaders were founded in 1886. Hungerford won the Southern league play offs last season and this is their first season at this level. It has been a dramatic promotion as they were only playing in the Hellenic league in 2009.
Today’s opponents were Eastbourne Borough (formerly Langley Sports) who were playing at the top flight of non League football only 5 years ago. Going into the match Hungerford were unbeaten. It was atypical British summer afternoon. That is bucketing down with rain and i was pleased with myself in taking a cagoule. Hungerford started off kicking down the slope but could not seem to take advantage in the first half. Few chances were produced by either side.
At half time i asked what i thought was a steward where the toilets were. It turned out he was actually a Photographer and a ground hopper. He passionately loved both football and photography. His camera alone looked as if it was worth nearly Wayne Rooney’s weekly wage packet. Oddly enough he had also been to Marine v Blyth days before this match where i had also attended. It’s a small world at times. He lived in Manchester and i could tell he was as passionate about his football as anyone. WE talked tactics on how to get into West Hams new ground later this season
The second half kicked off and Eastbourne had the advantage of the slope. They seemed to take more use of it more than their hosts. After dominating the early stages of the first the Visitors took the lead. An attack down the left flank early in the second half and a ball was turned in to be slotted home to give the visitors the lead. The same thing practically occurred with about 17 minutes left to send the Sussex team back to the South Coast with all three points.
Sadly the gate was very low for a club at this level. It just shows the efforts of those at the club to get them this far in the pyramid system.
It was four hours on the train from London due to engineering work so it was 1am when i arrived back at Newcastle central station.