11.30am Sunday 26th September 2010
Hellenic League Division One East
South Kilburn 1-5 Milton United
Attendance: 158

The day began at the Vale Farm Sports Complex (ie a leisure centre) near Wembley. After last years fiasco (which is now a great bonus!) when the pitch was deemed unfit, and the hop match was played on the outer training pitch, it was at last a chance to see a game on the main South Kilburn pitch. The game was played in windy and wet conditions and was very one sided with Milton going four up at the break, however great entertaiment was provided by South Kilburn's rotund keeper with his one man comedy show. He could've done better with quite a few of the goals and it was a shock he only let in four at the break! The second half was more even and Kilburn did get a goal back before conceding again.

2.30pm Sunday 26th September 2010
Rayners Lane 2-2 Broadfields United
(Broadfields win 5-3 on penalties)
Attendance: 77

This game was due to be a league cup cup game versus Launton Sports but they withdrew from the competition, so a friendly was arranged against Northwood, but they sacked their Manager on the Saturday evening, so they too pulled out. Fortunately Broadfields United stepped in at the very last minute to ensure a game went ahead at Tithe Farm. Well done to Rayners Lane for doing this, they also issued a programme, though this was for the Northwood game, but it was most appreciated nontheless.

This did create a dilemma for me as playing next to South Kilburn in the FA Cup were Hendon, who groundshare at Wembley FC. So it was am agonising decision...a groundshare or a friendly...arrrrgh! In the end I plumped for the friendly as at least then I will be seeing Rayner's Lane play at home. It wasn't billed as a friendly as both teams were playing for the right to lift the Bob Wells Memorial Cup aka The Ground Hop Cup. Wonder if this will be listed among the winners club honours?

As it turned out, I made a wise choice (I will get back to Wembley's ground another time)  as the game was rather entertaining and the ground was a little gem, quite a rural feel to it, despite being in the suburbs of North London. Even in the heavy the rain, it was a good attacking (and competitive!) game which ended up all square. The visitors took the lead before the home side drew level. The visitors then restored their lead before Rayners Lane levelled again. The home team were in the ascendency but couldnt force a winner. There was no extra time and the game went straight to penalties, in which Broadfields were victorious.

Credit must go to the organisers for arranging this Hellenic Hop as, to be honest, if it wasn't for these organised hops i'd never visit any of these grounds. The standard of football is not one I particularly enjoy (this year was no exception) and some of the grounds, especially at step 6, are basic to say the least. When I compare the Step 6 league on my doorstep, the North West Counties, to the Hellenic the differences are vast. Having said that it's always nice to catch up with fellow hoppers and 'tick' five grounds in a short space of time. Lets hope they continue for a wee while yet!



11.30am Saturday 25th September
Hellenic League Division One East
Finchampstead 1-2 Henley Town
Attendance: 152

An early start at the Memorial Park, in the village of Finchampstead. The ground, which is just a railed off pitch with no cover (good job the sun was shining) is in the middle of a green with numerous other pitches, including a cricket pitch. The game was effectively won by the visitors with two goals in five minutes before the break, after a very turgid first forty minutes. The home side got themselves back in the game just after the interval and had a good period of play when it looked as if they were going to turn the game around, but unfortunately for them they couldn't find the breakthrough.

2.30pm Saturday 25th September 2010
Hellenic Premier League
Reading Town 1-0 Wokingham and Emmbrook
Attendance: 164

Next up was a trip to Scours Lane, in Tilehurst, which is on the edge of Reading. It was a bloody nightmare journey as it took me 20 minutes to crawl the 1.5 miles along the Oxford Road which leads to the ground. I thought I wasn't going to make kick off at one stage but managed to arrive with a few minutes to spare. It was a better game than the first (which isn't saying much) and Reading shaded the first half and should've been more than just the one goal to the good, a straight-forward header from a corner. Emmbrook did have their moments too but poor finishing let them down. The visitors dominated the possession in the second half but never really troubled the goalkeeper and Reading seemed content with what they had as the game petered out.


5.30pm Saturday 25th September 2010
Hellenic Premier League
Bracknell Town 2-3 Shortwood United
Attendance: 149

The final leg of the day saw the hoppers head back down the A33 to Larges Lane, the home of Bracknell. They find themselves in the Hellenic Premier after an awful 09/10 season which saw them finish rock bottom of the Southern League Div1. This was easily the best ground of the day and you could clearly see it had graced a higher stage. The game too was also the best of the day as a decent looking Shortwood side found themselves 2-1 up at the break and it was fully justified. Their second goal was a bullet into the top corner from outside the box which is an early contender for 'goal of the season'. The second half continued in similar vein with Shortwood pulling the strings, but Bracknell holding on and with 10 minutes go they drew level for the second time but they couldn't push on from this, or indeed hold on as Shortwood grabbed a winner which, on the balance of play, they deserved.