As the team cars threaded their way through the inner city, navigated through the urban jungle of Berkshire’s Capital, little prepared us for our destination. Park in the rear playground and follow the fence around the back of the school they said. So that is what we did. In hindsight you can see we were climbing as we walked round, but as we emerged through the player’s tunnel onto the pitch itself our breaths were stolen. Commanding views across the dense patchwork of Whitley rooftops, the distant hum of the M4, the majestic sweep of the green park Wind Turbine in the distance, this High Altitude pitch atop the previously unknown Whitley Plateau was ideally located to welcome the arctic winds into the faces and eyes of all in the supporter’s terrace. At first I thought it may be the emotion of the occasion (off the back of 3 wins) that brought tears to my eyes but then I realised I had lost all facial control due to the arctic bite of the Siberian Sirocco and the tears were just weather related and froze as quickly as they emerged, eventually resulting in the possibility of losing at least one eye. Luckily I survived intact.
The players however were kept warm by the team spirit, coached into them from a young age by Lee and Ed. That and their energy running the full length of the pitch time on time kept them safe from frostbite.
The scene was set. Reminiscent to a scene from a Roman amphitheatre, a gladiatorial contest of epic proportions was expected, and as the teams strode onto the pitch, lined up shook hands and took their positions, excitement was near fever pitch in the north end stand.
Quarter one, Ashridge came sprinting out of the blocks and two goals were bagged. Some exceptional team work, and some standalone ‘skills’ put us ahead. Quarters two and three saw South Reading take the game on and bought it back to us with some exciting play and a outstanding team spirit. As we entered Q4, you could have cut the air with a knife, the tension was high. This was an epic end to end well balanced game of two strong sides in great form pitched against each other. Cross bars were hit, keeps dived, caught and blocked, busses were parked, breaks were translated into free play, corners were won, and posts were savaged, in all a brilliant game to watch. Tense for the fans but for a neutral I could not think of a better game to watch.
Exceptional players across the pitch for both teams. South Reading’s goalie seemed to have hands made of glue, our goalie was like a young Shilton in full control of his area, the defences were solid, midfields working hard, striker taking pot-shots, this game had it all.
And in the end the Desmond was a fair result. Two goals apiece was a strong result which told the story of the match well.
I would like to add a word to the referee today, he was outstanding, working with the boys, encouraging and letting free play. Excellent ref’ing. And again to South Reading, your coach and the team spirit he has built is worthy of note and praise.
A great morning, and despite the artic wind, games like this are what it’s all about.
Come on you blues….