Sunday, 21 November 2010

A1 for Hatfield

Hopperational details
Saturday 20th November 2010, Hatfield Town 3 Hertford Town 0 in the step 5 South Midlands Premier League.  I am here because I live only 15 minutes away and needed a local hopping venue today.
This match in one sentence
An efficient win for Hatfield Town in manager Adam Parker’s first league game in charge.
So what?
Hatfield Town climb to 7th and Hertford Town stay in mid-table.  These two meet again in a county charity shield competition on Tuesday.  I’ve seen Hertford Town twice this season, three times in all, and they have lost all of them.
Who caught the eye on the pitch?
For the right reasons, no-one in particular this week.  Hatfield were “up for it” and played directly and efficiently, although all three goals had a helping hand to some extent from the visitors.  Hertford lined up with five at the back, and one of the centre-backs headed an own goal for the first.  Their more measured passing game did not work well on this step 5 shared surface.  Epic confusion between the defence and the goalkeeper Ashley Harris led to the second goal, and the game was virtually over as a contest by half-time.  The third came just after the break and killed it off completely, which makes a ridiculous incident described below even more inexplicable.  In the meantime, Hertford's Chet Johnson was lucky to avoid a card after his shout of, "Do you know the rules, Lino?".  The ref didn't hear it, and the lino was generous in not telling him.  No wonder we have an officiating crisis in the grass roots game.
This match had the same effect on my pulse rate as …
… finding my marbles.
A snippet from the programme

Hatfield Town are an ambitious club whose plans for the future include the building of their own ground and advancement within the pyramid.”
Fair play to them – I saw them last season as the middle game of my first-ever bank holiday triple in a feisty 3-3 draw against their landlords Welwyn Garden City.  They seem to be a club full of fighters for the shirt.  They have moved to the Gosling Sports Park this season and the sooner they can move again the better.  I am struggling to think of a game that I have really and truly enjoyed from the other side of an athletics track.
What I learned today
Saturday was some sort of deadline for ordering made-to-measure curtains in time for Christmas in these parts. Just don’t talk to me about it, please.
Modus Hopper Random Talking Point
Let me say at the outset that by this stage I had climbed to the back of the main stand and I was a starship journey away from the first stage of this incident.  With the game dead at 3-0, the ball went behind the Hertford goal and was in the hands of a Hatfield “official”.  This was not a ball-boy, but a mature man (of sorts).  No doubt both parties will have their own accounts of what happened but here’s what I can say for sure:
It's a long walk for the red-carded
  • The goalkeeper tried to get the ball back but the man passed it round behind his back to prevent him from getting it.  There’s no doubt that he could have given the ball to the ‘keeper, but I can’t tell you what was said between the two of them.
  • The goalkeeper objected and views were exchanged.  The man, still with ball in hand, definitely made a slight movement towards the keeper.
  • There may have been minimal contact but the keeper went down with an acceleration of more than 9.8m/s2.  Trust me on that one. The ballholder was out-of-order but no way should the keeper have ended up on the floor.
  • Neutrals groaned at the prospect of a later finishing time as the obligatory period of “handbags” ensued.
  • The man made his way to the Hatfield dugout, and the referee, after consulting his assistant, sent him from the field of play (which meant a walk round behind the same goal and the chance to exchange further pleasantries with the now-upright Ashley Harris).
  • Hormonal levels subsided enough to allow the game to finish without further incident.  My view, for what it’s worth – the red card was correct.  I then proceeded in a north-westerly direction away from stadium as soon as I could.

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