No.18 - Sat. 31st October 2009; Anglian Combination Football League Mummery Cup 2;             1.30pm at Spixworth Village Hall, Crostwick Lane, Spixworth, Norwich, Norfolk.


Matchday images (12) >view>


Spixworth United (0) 0 Mattishall (0) 1 

 Town slip up!

Shortly after leaving school I spent a couple of years working as an office junior for a big well-known life assurance company. It seems a long time ago now but I can still remember some of my days at Norwich Union in Hull City centre. As a young trainee my daily routine involved completing a whole hosts of basic admin tasks from filing; answering phone queries; processing proposal forms to arranging first premium advice notices for clients: it was about as exciting as watching paint dry! I must confess that sitting behind a desk all day was not really for me and being a more hyperactive type I soon realised that my career in the world of Life and Pensions was not going to be a long one. In fact one (and possibly the only) major highlight was playing for the company football team which competed in the Hull and East Riding Sunday League each weekend. Despite having to wear a lurid green and yellow kit, it was great fun. We even managed to win promotion from Division Six as well as reach the Semi-Finals of the League Cup. As a young rookie I was also encouraged by my mentors to attend regular in-  service training and induction courses. The opportunity to escape the shackles of the office and travel down to Head Office in Norwich was just too good to miss. The experience was wonderful and I immediately fell in love with the place, by that I mean the city and not the resources centre. Although I lasted only a few weeks having to start my course at University I still have some fond memories of my time employed there. I know that the company have since been taken over by Aviva, but those wonderful TV adverts featuring Paul Whitehouse bring it all back: 'Green Army!' Great stuff!

In a roundabout sort of way this brings me on to this week's footy fix. Each season we all come across a few clubs that have either changed their name (more often out of necessity rather than by choice) or have moved on to pastures new. It's not very often that you find a football club which has done both. Whilst scanning through the forthcoming weekend's fixtures I spotted, on the Anglian Combination Football League website, that the Mummery League Cup tie between Spixworth United and Mattishall was to be played at Spixworth Village Hall, a venue I had certainly not heard of, let alone been to, before. It all seemed a bit spookey - well after all Halloween was fast approaching! Ooooooh!!

I soon discovered, after a quick check phone call to the club secretary, a bit more about the new Spixworth United Football Club. In fact the club used to be known as AFC Norwich, the old Premier Division side based at Dussindale Park off Laundry Lane (sharing at Thorpe Rovers FC) during the course of last season. Indeed we saw one of our most exciting games ever on a visit there just over a year ago when AFC beat Watton United after a highly charged encounter which ended 5-4. Now if you think that this is a bit confusing I can also tell you that prior to 2008 the club was formerly called Norwich Union FC and played home games at Pinebanks off Yarmouth Road on the outskirts of the city. As the company was being taken over by Aviva they felt unable financially to support a club here any longer and as a result they were forced to find an alternative ground.

So after a couple of years and with both a change in name and venue it now means that the nomadic club have since relocated to a more permanent site at the Village Hall in Spixworth and managed at the same time to retain many of their players (who, coincidentally, live in the village). Still confused? Don't worry it will sink in... eventually!

Within a couple of hours of leaving home we successfully reached the village which is to the north of the city on the Walsham Road. However as we turned into Crostwick Lane the heavens opened with a vengeance. It was really bucketing it down now like we'd never seen it before. The rain was literally bouncing off the roads. However our thoughts of a waterlogged pitch and a late call off of the match soon subsided though as the deluge all of a sudden blew over and we could see the home team players warming up on an area of grass behind the goal. After winding the front passenger side window down one of the officals told Mrs W. that the  heavy rain hadn't affected the pitch and the game was definitely going ahead. Now that's the sort of thing that as hoppers we all like to hear on such days isn't it?

By now it was fast approaching kick-off time but there was still no sign of the visiting team from Mattishall. A couple of minutes passed and a small hatchback screeched to a halt in the car park. In the time it takes to say FGIF Ramblings Stats page a couple of young lads, complete with a large kit bag, dived out (not literally despite the size of the puddles) and made their way quickly into the adjacent pavilion. The club chairman, who was busy selling raffle tickets, told us that the away team players had been sitting in the changing room waiting a while for their kit to arrive. The lads looking after it had somehow got lost en route and this meant that the kick off would now be delayed!

The site is dominated by an extremely well appointed village hall and social club building found next to the main entrance. Apart from the changing rooms the facility also incorporates a bar; lounge; function room and kitchen. There is a small all-weather cinder-based play area (with basketball posts) and rather unique and fully railed off mini speedway bike track, occupying a plot of land beyond the clubhouse. The players cross a small patio area and a small area of grass before reaching the fully roped-off pitch. This is the only one on site and is hemmed in on three sides by trees and hedges. Although there are a couple of dug outs, positioned along the far touchline, there is no dedicated cover here. Travellers to Spixworth FC should come prepared if the weather becomes at all inclement!  

And so at approximately 13.39 hours the eagerly anticipated Mummery Cup tie got underway, nearly ten minutes later than scheduled. Just like our game last week (at AFC Kempston Town) the match here today was decided by a single goal. In what was a totally one sided affair it was the visitors who booked their place in the next round when young striker Chris Hall scored after 56 minutes when he met a cross from the left with a glancing header that sent home keeper Ross Bilham the wrong way. But it should really have been more. Mattishall missed so many gifted opportunites to score that it was truly unbelievable how the game didn't end by a bigger winning margin. A 0-8 result would have been a fair reflection on proceedings here. During the first half one of the visiting fans standing next to me commented: 'We really do need a goal!', to which the referee's assistant quipped: 'We need some football first mate!' The finishing was that woeful at times. Thankfully we did pick out one player who could be one to watch in the future. If you get chance to see Mattishall play this season look out for a young powerful athletic defender called Ben Lewis. The tall bushy-haired 17 year old belied his years showing great ability and promise with his passing, control and awareness. He did stand out above all the others and I wouldn't be surprised to see him playing at a higher level one day.

The game, played on a well grassed surface, attracted about forty spectators including fellow hopper Cliff Heath from Kent. It was great to see him looking so well after a recent illness and I can report to all of his hopping friends that he is back on the circuit again which is great news. Quite appropriate then that Cliff should win first prize in the club raffle today. No doubt the bottle of red wine will be used purely for medicinal purposes. Take care mate!

The lure of a matchday programme had put a visit to Spixworth at the top of our grounds 'to do' list today. Printed on quality paper it is a tremendous publication and credit to editor Andy Whatmore. The committee members actively sell copies during the game in return for a donation. Complete with blue card cover containing the match details, the content carries a welcome; match reports; club news; player profile; line ups (in the centrefold) and match stats (fixtures, results and tables). There's even a Design A Badge competition inviting readers to come up with a club logo for the new club which incoporates both Saturday and Sunday teams. The prize for the winning entry is a 50. Mrs W has already had a look at her book on Heraldry...  Refreshments including a range of hot and cold drinks, snacks and chocolate are available and cheerfully dispensed at half-time from a small kitchen area in the centre of the pavilion.

It is pleasing to see that the club has, at last, found a more permanent base after a recent period of such uncertainty. One of the spectators muted that the club may even be looking to the establish themselves further by moving to a site over the road in Crostwick Lane one day in the not too distant future. Apparently they may still have possession of the lights from their Norwich Union FC era. There's no escaping that insurance giant is there...and that's assured! The joys of hopping on rainy days in Norfolk villages is to be recommended: I'm sure you'll enjoy your trip to Spixworth FC!!    

FGIF Match Stats

Scorers: (H) N/A and (A) Chris Hall (56 ) 

Attendance: 40; Admission: 2; Programme: 28 pages with admission; Match rating: 2/5; Ground rating: 3/5.


edited 02/11/09