The dates and associated events in the following sentences, I would never have expected to write;
It’s October 1st and the temperature is 26 degrees centigrade in the West Midlands. It’s 2011 and I am travelling to an FA Cup game by steam train.
However the kind ball-extractors employed by the FA gave me the opportunity to travel behind a GWR Pannier engine on the Severn Valley Railway the preserved railway line that links Kidderminster with Bridgnorth.
Bridgnorth’s opponents today were Long Buckby, who I had previously seen comprehensively brush-aside Thrapston Town in the 1st Qualifying Round. Then, as now, Long Buckby were playing in their normal sky-blue kit, then, as now, their opponents wore dark blue. An almost Oxbridge feel to the kits.
Bridgnorth is split between Low Town and High Town and first time visitors to the town may be led to believe that the Low Town was behind one goal and the High Town behind the other at Bridgnorth’s Crown Meadow ground, such is the slope of the pitch.
Crown Meadow has one seated stand and a covered terrace behind one goal. The other two sides of the perimeter have suburban gardens backing onto them, which some spectators were able to watch the game from, whilst at least a couple of others utilised the proximity to avoid paying the £5 entry fee.
Once the game kicked off in glorious sunshine, it was clear that the slope would play its part. The Bridgnorth back-line seemed to favour long high balls out of defence giving their forwards a chance to run at the Bucks’ defence. For the majority of the half, the away team seemed equal to this and in fact made their own headway against the slope, with their main outlet, the mercurial
forward Fazel Koriya.
The best chance of the half however fell to Town, but Long Buckby’s ‘keeper Richard Allen was able to dive full length to turn a rasping shot past the post. Long Buckby then went close on the stroke of half-time but a header went sailing past the post from a deep-cross.
In the second half, Long Buckby picked up the reins of the match and Koriya’s pace with the run of the slope was a deadly weapon. On approximately 60 minutes, a high ball fell to Koriya 20 yards out and his thunderbolt shot nestled in the bottom left of the net.
This inspired a late rally from the Meadow Men who really should have equalised on 75 minutes, but when clear on goal, fired a low shot past the Buckby post.
A wonderful afternoon in the sun as I reflected on my journey home, being hauled by GWR loco 2857 and a golden ale from the Bewdley Brewery of the same name.
* A buckeye coupler is a type of railway coupling. Long Buckby’s nickname is the Bucks.