TT No.63: Keith Aslan - Sat 19th March 2016; LONG STRATTON v Reepham; Anglian Combination Premier;           Kick-Off: 14.28; Result 0-1; Admission: Free; Programme: £1; Attendance: 30 (25 home, 0 away & 5 neutral) 

I have been waiting all year for trains to  run between London and Norwich on a Saturday but it ain't going to happen this season, so I did the trip up via Ely, tempted by a coquettish photograph of the programme on Long Stratton's twitter feed. It's a half hourly bus service from stop CV on Castle Meadow (not the bus station) with the bus number and the minutes of journey time both being 35. This was my second visit to this parish, on my first the  game was called off by the referee an hour before kick off. Nothing wrong with the pitch but it was raining and the official didn't seem to want to get wet. Much better to collect half his match fee and spend the afternoon at home in the dry watching Sky Sports?

Long Stratton has everything you could want from a village. Pub, fish and chip shop and café. But I'd give the "South Norfolk Shopping Centre" a miss. While geographically spot on, half a dozen shops, most of which were closed, hardly constitutes a "shopping centre", or maybe it does in Alan Partridge country. Foodwise the "Tudor Bakehouse" adjacent to the bus stop is highly recommended , as is the Swan pub. on the opposite side of the road, as much for the clientele as the beer, more of which anon. The ground is a 10 minute walk to the north of the village, it's roped off and - well that's about  all you can say about it really. The Anglian Comb. obviously has a very laid back approach to ground grading, and more power to their elbow for that. Just before kick off a table is set up near the half way line from which hot and cold drinks, snacks and programmes are available. No shortage of young ladies to assist in the dispensing thereof.

With both sides in the bottom three, the programme accurately labelled this one as a six-pointer. It's not hard to see why these two are struggling, plenty of endeavour, somewhat less skill. Reepham got a scarcely deserved winner in injury time. Long Stratton would be much higher up the table if games only lasted 90 minutes as the previous week at Mattishall they succumbed to an equalizer also in injury time. Incidentally Mattishall are currently playing on a plastic pitch in Dereham, don't know why or for how long so if 'cages' are your bag hurry along to tick this new one off.

I had the journey from hell going home. Due to a major accident cutting the village off from Norwich  the buses couldn't get through and if I'm going to get stranded somewhere Long Stratton wouldn't be my first choice. The locals in the aforementioned Swan pub. went above and beyond the call of duty to help me get out of the place. Having tried and failed to find me a lift they kept coming up with taxi firms and at the sixth attempt I found one willing to take me to Diss straight away. Fortunately I'd met up with a fellow hopper who shared the cab fare but it was still an expensive journey. Bang goes my night out at McDonalds this week. The taxi pulled into Diss station just as my train was pulling out, and as previously mentioned, when the next one arrived it only got as far as Ingatestone from where we were treated to a scenic coach ride along the A12, with the Chadwell Heath illuminations being a particular high spot! Bundled out at Newbury Park it was an underground train to Stratford where I arrived just in time to miss the train to Broadstairs and spent the best part of an hour wandering round Westfields (like the South Norfolk shopping centre only a bit bigger). The place was packed. What sort of person goes shopping at 9 o'clock on a Saturday night? Probably the same sort of person that goes to Long Stratton to watch a football match

contributed on 20/03/16