With no game over the weekend for The New Saints due to our quarter-final exit from the Welsh Cup, I had made my groundhopping plans in advance. Wanting to stay local, and tying football in with some fishing, I’d put AFC Bridgnorth Development v Wonder Vaults in my diary.
I had it all sorted, a lure rod in the boot and a session after perch on a Shropshire pool before the game and one on a Staffordshire lake on the way home. Everything was planned to perfection, however, as they say, the best laid plans of mice and men…
The substantial heavy rain during the night meant that not only was the West Midlands Regional League Division Two game off but the league fixture list as a whole was severely affected.
One of the games that did survive, however, was Oldbury United v Wolverhampton United at Hingley’s Playing Field in Old Hill. That’s in the Black Country for those wondering. Leaving home well after 2.00 p.m. I was in place with plenty of time to spare before kick-off. A keen naturalist, I spent some minutes watching a mistle thrush feeding on the pitch.
The first half didn’t produce any real highlights, with the visitors hitting the post the closest that the deadlock came to being broken. Neither keeper was tested and as the players exited the field of play there was all to play for in the second period.
Both sides stepped up a gear but just as the game looked to be heading for a stalemate, Wolverhampton took the lead with less than a quarter of an hour to go. Rather than let heads drop though, the goal spurred the home side on and almost immediately they were on level terms with a super strike.
The final minutes were end-to-end, as first Wolves then Oldbury created chances, with the three points for the taking. Come the final whistle though it was the orange shirts celebrating, as they grabbed the crucial goal late on that separated the sides.
It was a good game, I enjoyed it, then again I always get something from every match that I watch. I like to study the line-ups, the tactics, how each coach has approached the encounter. That’s when you get more from the game than the fan who just follows the ball.
It’s like those people in an art gallery who stare at a painting or craft piece for hours. They don’t just casually glance and then move on, they dig beneath the surface, they pay attention to detail.
When you do that, no game is ‘rubbish’ or ‘a waste of time’ as you hear many fans say. ‘It was boring, there were no goals’ is often a betrayal of an eye that isn’t really seeing. One thing that working in the world of football has taught me is that there’s always something to take from every game.
Oldbury United 1 Wolverhampton United 2
West Midlands Regional League Division Two