The year was 1816 and a group of men from Alconbury challenged the village folk of Alconbury Weston to a game of kick and chase. The pigs bladder was inflated goals erected and either end of the village and off they went pushing and shoving and booting the pigs bladder up and down the high street for days on end..
Fast forward 200 years and those same tactics are still alive and well in that village and the enlightened football of Buckden FC went head to head with it in a most ugly battle of footballing philosophy..who would triumph?
With promotion to play for the Buckden squad assembled in good order and with plenty of time until kick off, only Kieran struggling to make the meet and subsequently dropping to the bench in place of Scutty. A terrible goalkeeper warm up from Josh and Adam ensued, which was to have dire consequences as the drama unfolded later in the game, we’ll come to that…
Buckden started slowly, not really working together in coordinated fashion and it was clear the game was going to be a tight and niggly affair, with poor challenges coming in from both sides to be fair. As is common the better side (as evidenced by league position) dropped their level, choosing to run the ball instead of playing into good areas, nullifying the threat of the pace and guile of Buckdens front 3. However not long into the game Alex ‘who signed that guy’ Shepard got some space and scored the most delightful solo goal, outstripping the centre half, rounding the keeper and finishing confidently with his left peg..great to see. Right, the floodgates were going to open now…..wrong! Alconbury started kicking the ball even more randomly, picking up set pieces and asking questions down the flanks. From an Alconbury corner the ball was drilled into the box, a scramble breaks out in the box, Day makes a sharp stop and the defenders play statues and slice the ball up in the air 3 of 4 times, Lovey lets it bounce a few times in front of him seemingly mesmerised, is pushed over and the attacker has the easiest of finishes – 1-1 and it’s a test of Buckdens bottle now.
A little bit of football starts getting played, James Wou showing some great composure down the flanks to beat his man over and over again but there isn’t really a clear cut chance until bang, Wou chips one over the top giving topscorer, Dom, a lot to do wide of the goal but guides the ball expertly into the far corner, underlining his improvement in recent weeks.
So 2-1 at half time and the talk is positive although it is clear the lads are a bit tired, not really taking to the 6 oclock kick offs. Lovey has a minute to himself shaking off the demons of the Alconbury equaliser and all is rosy..we are going up..arent we..???
The second half starts really poorly for Buckden and slowly but surely the physicality of Alconburys approach was wearing down the Barca of 1b. This was going to be tricky, with the only really outlet coming from Sam of the left, things had gone flat, at the wrong time of the season. The home striker eventually got a run in down the left and was allowed to get a shot off, a good strike was rendered a worldy by a crater like aberration on the pitch which kicked the ball up and over Day who no doubt should have fielded the ball comfortably, but lost the ball in the sun, a howler no doubt but it was coming...(also please refer to aforementioned goalkeeper warm up issues)
Alconbury remained on top for the next ten minutes getting in one on ones a few times only to be denied by some solid keeping and some resolute defending from multiple set pieces. The back four was creaking, midfield was not tracking back and we were bereft ideas going forward.
2-2 and promotion hopes fading like the light on that Alconbury field..up steps the man of the year, Sam Underwood who was running with bravery and intent all game to save the Day (literally). Picking the ball up like a matador goading his prey before sticking him with a spear, Sam drove at the quivering bull, slicing deep into the box with searing pace and thumping the ball high in the Home goal, in off the bar, a most impressive finish. Cue wild celebrations.. The job was done 3-2 and the boys saw out the final few minutes..
If any game and circumstance reflected the belief and team spirit in the club, this was it, backs to the wall believing there was a match winner out in the melee. Winning football at any level is only achieved through teamwork and discipline although competing for honours takes a bit more, overcoming set- backs, fatigue, injuries and squad changes ...well done lads, nearly there..