|A lovely Spring afternoon at the Newman Collard Playing Fields, Liss Athletic FC.|
In a typical report, I'll start off by chittering on about something random. For the groundhoppers who read this, I'll probably describe the ground between pictures four and five. For the players, officials and fans of the clubs involved, they have to wait until near the end to see their names in print and a cursory description of the main action. To be honest, by the second paragraph, I suspect half my audience have given up reading and look at the pictures instead, never to return.
And so, this week, I'm going to try and keep this report short, succinct and sensible. Let's start with a bit of background, then straight on to the match...
|The view from the home dugout.|
Liss Athletic FC (1) 1 v 3 (2) Baffins Milton Rovers FC
Saturday 23rd April 2016
Puma Engineering Hampshire Premier Football League Senior Division
Colours: All blue v Sky blue / black / black
National Grid reference: SU7727 / SU7827
|Peek-a-boo! Liss's keeper, as spied upon through the bushes.|
Thus, I chose to go to Liss Athletic, whose opponents from Portsmouth, Baffins Milton Rovers, would win the Hampshire Premier Football League title with a victory. Defeat would give either Otterbourne or Hamble Club - who were playing each other - a chance to overtake them.
Liss have done well this season, sitting in fourth place pre-match, so it could have been a hard game for Baffins.
[Note that I didn't say that Harry Potter produced a moment of magic for either of his two goals. I can't imagine what it must have been like for him growing up, being born a year or two before the first Potter novel came out. During this game, he came up against Liss Athletic's red-headed full-back, who became his honorary Ron Weasley for the afternoon. Shouts of "Where's Hermione?!" rang out from the touchlines...he must hear this sort of thing all the time. I suppose you have no choice but to play along with it. One thing's for sure, he's a cracking player at this level].
|Liss's goal, scored just as I was taking a wide angle shot of the trees behind the goal.|
As half-time approached, Liss looked like they could spoil Baffins' special day. If only they could get another goal!
During the second half, Harry Potter went off injured after a battle of the super-wands with evil Lord Voldemort in the centre circle. Potter will be back, but I can't vouch for the Lord of Darkness. Even without their two-goal hero, Baffins had the edge, always looking as though they might score the killer third, and so it proved, as a powerful Blu Boam shot from 20 yards bounced over the home keeper with five minutes to go.
Cue the celebrations as Baffins knew they had won the league for the second time in three years - the difference this time being that they had applied for promotion to the Wessex League and had been accepted. Trips to Tadley, Shaftesbury and Pewsey await them next season. They look good enough for a top five spot if they keep this squad together.
|Peek-a-boo #2! Blu Boam of Baffins spots the photographer as he's being mobbed by his team-mates.|
Liss is a village to the north of Petersfield. It has its own railway station on the Waterloo - Portsmouth line, which is ten minutes' walk from the football ground. The football club play at the Newman Collard Playing Fields (I don't know who Newman Collard was). The playing fields are on the south-west corner of the village. Here, you will find tennis courts, a duck pond (featuring a part-sunken duck house), a play area, a basketball hoop, two small football pitches, and the main pitch.
There is a two-storey clubhouse, which is shared with the Puddleducks Nursery (tea served upstairs on a matchday, by the way). Walking clockwise from here around the pitch, you pass by the nursery play area (safely surrounded by a wooden picket fence). Within the play area is a shelter - as far as I know, you could enter this area and stand beneath the shelter if it rains.
The pitch must have been levelled long ago, as there is earth banking starting by the clubhouse and extending all the way along the far side of the pitch. Well-established trees and bushes grow upon the bank, along with the odd bluebell dotted amongst the brambles. You get a good view from the bank, if a little obscured along the near side by vegetation.
|Peek-a-boo #3! The celebrations start in the away changing room...Champ-i-on-eees!|
Beyond the far end of the pitch is a school. At one point during the match, a wayward ball ended up in the school pond - a Liss substitute had to climb over the fence to retrieve the precious, expensive match ball.
Continuing the walk around the pitch, the final side has a temporary rope put up on matchdays - the other three sides of the pitch have a metal rail preventing spectators from encroaching on to the playing surface. Along this side is a public footpath - several dog walkers wandered past as the match progressed.
One thing I couldn't locate was a sign warning the locals of the presence of adders in the vicinity - something that Paul Paxford had spotted on his visit here in 2013. I guess either the sign has disintegrated in the rain, or there are no longer any adders in the area. I didn't see any.
|Time for the Liss players to tidy up the netting post-match.|
Liss Athletic could also end the season with silverware, as they will play Hamble Club in the league cup final on BankHoliday Monday, May 2nd.
As is usual now, I shall put some more photos from the day on to the Hopping Around Hampshire Facebook page. I'll do that later this evening.
There you go, that was the new short, succinct and sensible HAH. I'll visit a few more Hampshire Premier Football League clubs next season. If you're involved with one and would like me to feature you, let me know either here, or on Twitter or the Facebook page (links on the right if you're viewing this on a PC or tablet).
Next up, the traditional end of season roller round-up in two or three weeks, which almost certainly won't be sensible.