Monday, 21 October 2013

Kidlington v Lymington Town

The entrance to Kidlington FC's car park.
Imagine it's 1973 all over again. It's Saturday lunchtime. You've just feasted on a creamy pile of ham and mushroom Toast Toppers. You're going out to watch a game of football, patched up denim jacket safely on, bar scarf tied around your wrist, your fashionably long hair freshly washed and waved. You were intending to head off towards Oxford United's Manor Ground for their Second Division match against Fulham* when you bump into your mate Dave. He's heading off to Kidlington, as he's heard the local village side are playing a Showbiz XI, and ELTON JOHN might be making an appearance!

Well, you'd spent all summer playing Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting over and over again on your Dansette. This could be a laugh, so you decide to go to Kidlington instead.

*Oxford and Fulham drew 0-0, so you didn't miss much.

They tried to hide this rusty old mower in the long grass, but I found it!
Kidlington FC (1) 5 v 1 (1) Lymington Town FC
Saturday 19th October 2013
FA Carlsberg Vase First Round Proper
Attendance: 50-60
Admission: £5
Programme: £1
Colours: All green v Red / black / black
National Grid reference: SP4813 / SP4913

Kidlington FC's covered seating area...
When you arrive at Kidlington's Yarnton Road ground, you find that the spectators are two or three deep around the roped-off pitch (you hear later that there were 2,500 people in attendance that day - still a ground record). You manage to stand behind a pair of short old fellas and manage to catch glimpses of the various celebrities as the game progresses.

The goalkeeper is dressed all in black - his name is Jess Conrad and he organises the Showbiz XI. He watched Russia's Lev Yashin on the telly as a boy and admired the way that he leapt through the air in his all-black kit, looking like Batman, so he copied his style.

Look over there! Isn't that Radio 1's Diddy David Hamilton hugging the wing? And over there - it's Record Breakers' Roy Castle trying to be the best, showing a lot of dedication to the cause! The midfield pairing looks familiar - isn't that comedian Jimmy Tarbuck and Easy Listening's Des O'Connor? Yes, you recognise Des from the Morecambe & Wise Show! Talking of which, isn't that Eric Morecambe himself over on the far side? He's taken his glasses off, but yes, that's him alright! You can't see Elton John anywhere...but hang on! That's gravel-voiced sex-god Rod Stewart up front, isn't it? Goodness me, no wonder there's so many people here!

Now, I've no proof that any of these celebrities were playing at Kidlington that day, but all of them did play for the Showbiz XI at some point around that time, so it was quite possible...

...and their covered standing.
So, what was Hopping Around Hampshire doing in Oxfordshire? Well, I'm following Hampshire sides in the FA Vase this season - doesn't matter where they play, so long as I can get there by 3pm. I started off at Hythe & Dibden for their first-ever home tie in the competition. I then travelled to Bracknell Town to see Hartley Wintney in action.

This time out, it was Lymington Town's turn in the spotlight. I'd had a choice of several different matches to go to, but I'd been offered a free beer in Kidlington's clubhouse by Jeremy, who volunteers at the club on a match day. So, how could I have gone anywhere else?

I spent a happy half hour both before and after the match chatting with Jeremy. He told me all about Kidlington Football Club. His son plays at centre-back, his wife volunteers in the tea hut on a match day, and he updates the club's Twitter account, amongst other things. Like a lot of clubs at this level, Kidlington rely on families like this to keep going. If you ever go to Kidlington, ask for Jeremy and say I sent you. He'll be pleased to see you.

Jeremy's son, Christien Turner, attempts to block a rare Lymington shot.
Kidlington's ground backs on to the Oxford Canal. There's a bridge over the canal from where you can just about see the dugouts and the floodlights if you peer through the foliage at the right angle.

You enter the ground via the pay shed, which is just beyond the red brick clubhouse. The tea hatch is immediately to your right, where you can buy sandwiches, chocolate bars, crisps and beverages. Walking around the ground clockwise, you come straight to the covered standing area, which is placed next to a corner flag, as there is no other space for it to go at that end.

Past the corner flag and looking to your left, there is a communal allotment garden, full of enormous cabbages and curly kale at this time of year. Glance to your right and you see three dugouts - two large new brick dugouts painted in British racing green, with a disused dugout inbetween, painted in pale mint green.

There is nothing but hard standing at the top end of the ground, other than a grassy area where passing dog owners can exercise their pets (a public footpath runs around the pitch - total dog-count on Saturday was 5). Walk three-quarters of the way along the final side of the ground and you reach the seated stand part way between the halfway line and the corner flag. Behind the stand is a row of tall trees which hides the nearby housing estate.

The weather on Saturday was 90% overcast, 9.5% sunny spells, 0.5% rainbows. It was a relatively warm day, but even so, I have to say, it was good to see so many people following their mum's the government's advice by wearing jumpers.

Enhanced colour trickery reveals a pretty rainbow over Kidlington.
Kidlington are the longest-serving members of the Hellenic League, having joined in 1954, the year after its formation. The league was originally going to be called the Coronation League, but the FA refused to sanction this name, so the founders named it in the Greek style of many of the surrounding leagues (see the Isthmian League, Spartan League, Athenian League, etc). If only the recently-renamed Kent League had followed the same naming convention, the Southern Counties East League might have ended up being the Peloponnese League or something similar. Too tricky to spell, I suppose.

The Hellenic League is effectively an Inbetweeners League with shifting boundaries. It's for clubs who are too far east for the Western League, too far west for any of the various London leagues, too far north for the Wessex, and too far south for the Midlands leagues. It has generally been centred around Oxford though, which is why Kidlington have remained there whilst so many other clubs have switched to other leagues.

Over the years, Kidlington have played over 130 different clubs in the Hellenic League, some of whom have gone on to better things (see Brackley Town, Forest Green Rovers, etc), whilst many others have disappeared (too many to mention, but Rivet Sports, Ernest Turner Sports, Smiths Industries are just some). Full Hellenic League tables up until 2007 can be found in the book Non-League Football Tables 1889-2007; tables from 1988 onwards can be found online here.

Dench wheels! (I believe that means "lovely bicycle")
I spoke about writing match reports with Jeremy, who sometimes does the job for Kidlington's website. We both agreed it wasn't an easy job. His method is to take notes on his phone as the match progresses and type them up afterwards without too much editing. My method is to try and memorise every major incident and then promptly forget them as soon as I get home. No change for me this week then...

Lymington had won away at East Cowes Victoria Athletic in the previous round, and their league form has been better than average so far, so they had travelled with hope in their hearts. After eight minutes, they were leading, as Shane Sims snaked his way around Kiddy's defence in the shape of the letter S, before slotting the ball right-footed under the advancing keeper. That was as good as it got for Lymington though, as the home side started applying more and more pressure.

After 35 minutes, Lymo's keeper made an extraordinary save to palm a goalbound header over the bar, but from the resulting corner, Kidlington took the lead with a close-range shot by two players at the same time - one of which was Jeremy's son Christien, who claimed afterwards that it was his goal. I'd let them have half a goal each, to be fair. Might mess up the club's goal stats though.

The second half was all Kidlington. Tommy Castles scored a 25 minute hat-trick, then the fifth was added in the 97th minute by Michael Duerden (making his total for the match 1.5*). By that point Lymington were knackered and just wanted to jump on the coach and go home. They'd been down to ten men for the last half hour after their left-back had headbutted a Kidlington player right in front of the ref. Red card and walk of shame for that man.

*Edit: Michael explains that the first goal was his in the Comments below. Of Kiddy's five goals on Saturday, there were officially three for Castles, two for Duerden, and none for Turner.

Tidying away the goals post-match.
So, Oxfordshire's Kidlington were in the draw for the Second Round Proper of the Vase, which was published on Monday lunchtime. Also there were Hartley Wintney, who beat Petersfield Town on Saturday to progress. Leaving the competition at the First Round Proper stage were Hythe & Dibden, who lost 4-1 at Alresford Town.

The remaining Hampshire teams were drawn thusly for the next round:

Erith Town v Hartley Wintney
Rye United v Newhaven / Cove
Folland Sports v Sholing
Verwood Town v Alresford Town
Blackfield & Langley v Oxford City Nomads
Odd Down v Moneyfields / Christchurch
Fareham Town v Bitton
AFC Portchester v Shepton Mallet

Erith and Rye are probably too far for me to go (as I don't usually have access to the family car until after 1pm). However, I hope to be at one of the other matches on November 16th.

Kidlington will play at home to Tavistock in the "Round of 128" (as FIFA would probably insist on calling it if they were in charge). I hope they get a big crowd for that one. Probably not as big as the 2,500 that turned up to see Diddy David Hamilton and friends in 1973, but fingers crossed for 100+. Thank you to Jeremy and the club for putting up with me on Saturday. I expect we'll meet again one day.

Photos and a report from Saturday's match can be found on Kidlington's website here and here.


  1. Hi Andrew, it was a pleasure to meet you Saturday, I'm glad you enjoyed your day. Took us ages to get that mower in the undergrowth and make it look like it had been there for years by the way!

  2. Christian certainly didn't get a touch on the first goal,it was all mine as he kicked the bottom of my boot. He only claimed it in the bar as I was not there cheeky sod. He admitted in the changing room it was mine. :)

  3. Jeremy, no-one hides their rusting groundsman's equipment from me! I have a sixth sense for hunting it down, however long the grass it's hidden in!

    Michael, I've made an edit to the text above. The goal's all yours! Although I do still like the concept of half-goals, even if that one wasn't.

    Good luck in the next round. I think the draw goes national in January. You could potentially be heading off for a day out to one of the big Northern League clubs after Christmas.

  4. Hi Andrew,
    Another excellent post , well done. I love your reports as they are always fresh, well written and highly entertaining.Simply one of the best and is certainly one of my favourites. Shame we never spoke at Petersfield that day ..... but we will !
    Kind Regards
    Mr O Bag

  5. Thanks Mr O Bag! It's always nice to receive compliments!