I’m not a great fan of football these days although you can’t avoid it and I did watch most of the more important world cup days. However I did grow up an avid fan, especially of non-league football of the Welsh variety, click here for more about that. Nowadays if it’s a choice I’d prefer the oval ball but mid-August the rugby season has, mercifully, not yet started.
I’ve had contact with the directors of Histon FC (click here for Histon’s web-site) at the end of last season and during the summer as its been going through its financial difficulties, desperately avoiding the drop and rebuilding its board and management team. Meetings between the directors and the parish councils have been very positive and we are all optimistic that Histon FC will remain a community club and hopeful that it can hold its position in the Conference.
And so it seemed appropriate that I go to the first match of the season, against Barrow (click here for the Barrow web-site). Barrow itself has had its ups and downs: it was in the football league for 50 years until 1972 but has since been up and down the minor leagues until it was promoted into the Conference the year before last.
Of course Barrow is an honest northern club, off the M6 junction 36, and the team that came to Histon reflected that heritage. By contrast our lads were different. Some of them even speak French. And Barrow came with a coach load of supporters who huddled behind one of the goals and chanted. Our fans didn’t chant, I guess we’re too sophisticated for that.
The game started with both teams playing fairly typical non-league football ie the sort of football that makes you think that there might be something better to do on a saturday afternoon. There was plenty of aerial football with neither side coming anywhere close to scoring. When Barrow did score, which they did from a free kick with our goalie apparently unsighted, it was such a surprise that everyone went quiet including the chanting Barrow supporters.
0-1 down and we feared the worst. Histon seemed to lose discipline and when Lanre Oyebanjo had his name taken one of the wags in the crowd shouted ‘don’t tell him how to spell it’. But somehow we held together and equalised: did it reward our first coherent passing movement? And then wonder of wonders on the stroke of half time we scored another. 2-1!
Both sides played better football in the second half and both were denied goals by a combination of goal-line clearances and brave goalkeeping. Histon persisted in a tactic of long balls down the wings, don’t ever believe that the long ball is dead, which our two wingers had the skill and the pace to exploit. And then midway through the half, perhaps against the run of play, the two wings combined to score a third. 3-1 surely we would win now?
The Barrow fans chanted less. Their last chant was along the lines of ‘I should have gone to the wedding’. Histon kept its shape and seemed to have the fitness to defend its lead without any serious worries despite a somewhat harsh sending off. We won 3-1.
You couldn’t ask for anything more and after last season and the summer it’s more that we could fairly expect. But that’s 3 points in the bag.
And you know what’s the icing on the cake? Cambridge United lost.