No.20 - Sat. 14th November 2009; Suffolk & Ipswich League Omnico League Cup Round 2;             1.30pm at the Playing Field, Main Road, Somersham, Ipswich, Suffolk.


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Somersham (3) 3  Willis (0) 0

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain!

I don't know about you but when the weather affects our cherished hopping activities we prefer not to stray too far from home. On a particularly dull and wet November day, when the whole country was taking a battering from the elements, it seemed better for us to stay fairly local and cut our losses in the event of any likely, possible, late matchday postponements. 

It had been a really dodgy couple of days, weatherwise. With the rain absolutely lashing down on racing HQ and its environs during most of Friday and in the early hours of Saturday morning the chances of finding a game that would be on in this part of the world were going to be at a premium. Indeed our first three chosen fixtures had all fallen victim to waterlogged pitches. Matches at Wormingford Wanderers; Gosfield United and Interwood will all have to wait for another (fine) day. However a quick check phone call to the club secretaries at both Somersham FC and Salvation Army Football Clubs proved successful with upbeat replies confirming that their second round games in the Suffolk and Ipswich League (Omnico) Cup were definitely on. Despite the grizzly cloud cover it was with eager anticipation that we set off in search of another game of football and the added prospect of a new ground. 

Although we have lived in Suffolk for almost twenty five years now, there are still many parts of our beautiful county that we have yet to explore. Take this Saturday: the last three miles of our journey today involved driving through some of the most scenic countryside East Anglia has to offer. It was certainly a route we had never been on before (and probably will never again). To be honest I had to take a quick look at our Suffolk A-Z just to make sure I knew where I was heading was definitely one of those places off the beaten track. Somersham lies 5½ miles west from the county town of Ipswich, covers an area of around 1000 acres and nestles by a small stream, running to the north of the village. It is an attractive village with two churches - St Mary’s Parish Church and Somersham Baptist Chapel; a public house/restaurant -The Duke of Marlborough; primary school and that's about it!

The village hall and football ground soon come into view on your right as you enter the small village. Although it is a fairly basic set-up there is plenty to interest the enthusiastic football grounds' collector. It is set in a most exposed location being bordered by open fields and rolling hills (yes, there are a few even in this flat county). A small stream runs parallel to the road, car park and the club pavilion which is positioned further along this side of the field. It is a new building financed by local funding and incorporates changing rooms for players and the referee; toilets and a mini bar area which opens at half-time to dispense cold drinks and snacks. Behind this is a superb new outdoor basketball court fully enclosed by a lage metal perimeter fence decked out in bright lime green paint: hmmm! To the right is a children's play area and some tennis courts tucked away in the far corner of the field. Unusually a unique purpose built cinder-based mini go kart/model car track is situated at the top of the field to the right of the main playing area: if you look on a Google terrain map you'll see it. As you would expect there is no cover here at all.

The pitch, unroped today, is marked out at right angles to the main club facilities and has a pronounced end-to-end slope as it drops down to the main road. It is for this reason that the playing surface drains exceptionally well even on the wettest of days. I was reliably informed that the club rarely has a game postponed here and would definitely be a good fallback for the intrepid traveller when other games in the area are called off.  Today the pitch looked in immaculate condition despite the heavy rain that was still falling at kick off time. With little shelter on site Mrs W decided wisely to remain in the confines of the warm dry Wraymobile II parked pitchside whilst yours truly got absolutely soaked despite flitting from one tree to another at various places behind each goal to get a break from it. There was no room in the dug outs and many of the spectators (without umbrellas) decided to seek refuge in the bar area or under the very narrow veranda outside. It was really that unpleasant and at one stage I questioned my sanity I can tell you: surely it would have been much better to stay at home in front of the fire and follow the fortunes of the Football League clubs on Sky Sports News; no it wouldn't! Despite getting drenched this was the only place to be!!  

Both sides, involved in today's league cup second round tie, play in the Suffolk & Ipswich League Division 2 and have experienced very different fortunes prior to this game so far this season. Somersham currently occupy seventh place, out of the fourteen teams that make up the league, having won half of their matches. Willis by contrast had made an absolutely disastrous start to the campaign and were firmly rooted at the bottom with an unenviable playing record which makes particularly grim reading - played 10; lost 10; scored 3 goals; conceded 63 goals: points 0! I fully expected that the visitors would win the game easily. However I wasn't quite sure how many goals there would be with the difficult strong strong winds and heavy rain likely to take its toll on both teams.

By 1.35pm and with only four minutes on the clock Somersham were already 2-0 up and coasting! Keiron Cotterell (2) opened the scoring with a simple sidefoot tap in from ten yards out after the visitors failed to clear the ball from their area. Within a minute Daniel Barker (3) added a second after latching on to a poor back pass and running beyond the keeper to hit the target from a tight angle before the stopper could get back in position. Visions of a huge scoreline suddenly took over my emotions. Surely after witnessing 12 goals only seven days ago at Kodak (Harrow) FC, I wasn't going to experience another goalfest was I? Totally out of character I had suddenly turned into a greedy goal monster, hoping that poor old Willis were going to get hammered: now that's not at all within the spirit of being a true football supporter is it? How could I wish for this already beleaguered team to get slaughtered once again? To make matters worse their chunky 'keeper Ross Pace turned badly on an already weakened ankle and had to be replaced by outfield striker Callum Newman after only fifteen minutes: their luck was running out and it didn't seem right for me to be enjoying their misfortune. 

Thankfully the visitors managed to compose themselves again, compete for the ball and and share more of the possession. There were no more goals until the half hour mark when the hosts grabbed another, this time against the run of play, when Adam English (31), one of two brothers in the side, was set up with an easy chance to score from the edge of the 'D'. Amazingly this turned out to be the last goal of the game. Unsurprisingly as the conditions deteriorated, so did the game. The words 'damp' and 'squib' spring to mind here. By half-time the players were glad to get a bit of respite by returning to the changing roooms for a well earned cuppa. However as the rain continued to fall heavily I wondered if the referee would call it off. He didn't, the game finished and for a brief ten minute spell, near the end, the sun came out. It was too late though; we had all taken a really good soaking. By the way, I wish Somersham good luck in the next round when the club travels over to Old Newton United FC (in a match to be played on Monday 28th December with a kick-off at 1.30pm).

On a day when it looked likely that there would be no football at all, I was only too pleased to get in a soggy tick believe me. In fact out of all the Suffolk and Ipswich League fixtures today incredibly only one game was affected (the Division 4 league match at Aldburgh Town was called off after 40 minutes due to high winds). The rest of the programme survived the weather and included a few tasty results in the Omnico Cup with the home matches at Claydon and Saxmundham Football Clubs each producing fourten goals with an eye-catching 14-0 and 12-2 scoreline recorded respectively. If you think this was impressive it pales into insignificance when you find out that Wenhaston United beat Ipswich Rovers by 20-0: it appeared that it was raining goals too - Suffolk was definitely the place to be today!!    

Although it's only a basic venue and there's no hope of a programme, travellers to Somersham FC will nevertheless receive a very warm welcome. If you decide to attend a game check out The Offton Limeburners in the neighbouring village. The public house and adjacent chip shop (open from 12 noon until 2pm on a Saturday) serve a superb menu that includes some of the best fried fish and chips we have tasted in ages. Don't forget the scraps as well. Finally, I must thank club secretary Derek Ottaway for returning my phone call confirming the game was on just before midday; a true gent who, like the rest of us gathered at pitchside, stood cheering his team on in the wind and rain. It just goes to show that you don't have to be mad to follow the beautiful game in bad weather but it certainly helps - have fun wherever you go!          

FGIF Match Stats

Scorers: (H) Cotterell (2); Barker (3); A. English (31) and (A) N/A 

Attendance: 15; Admission: N/A; Programme: None; Match rating: 3/5; Ground rating: 3/5.

Links - and Map


edited 20/11/09