Thursday 30 May 2019

Too Early For Ribbons? - Baldock Town FC Vs Biggleswade FC, Dudley Latham Memorial Cup Final, Forde Park (24/04/19)

Late nights are for the young, not big fat Dads with two kids and I can’t even blame copious amounts of booze, a pub crawl, finished off with a kebab sitting at a bus stop, for why I feel so crap. A shocker of a trip back from my annual Easter trip to the North West Easter to see the in laws, took about three hours longer than it should have, combined with an agitated one year old, I really just want to curl up under a blanket and block out the world for the next forty eight hours.

Tom has his own problems, “I can't work out what jacket to wear, so I've got two”. Climbing into my car, he’s not exactly enamoured with the state of it, the remnants of the long drive home the previous night, means that everything from the dashboard to the foot well is littered with crap, “Costa, Costa” he says, trying his best not to tread on the numerous dark red paper cups underfoot.

Although I’ve brushed my teeth and gargled at least a pint of Listerine, there is no escaping what I had for lunch making itself known. “What have you eaten?” grimaces Tom, turning towards me with the most tortured look on his face, “dude” he exclaims as the smell of the chicken Kiev I had only gets stronger. “So garlicky” he scowls, as my meal repeats on me, and I do my best to direct the fumes away from him, but it’s not working.

The sobering sight of an almighty crash on the opposite side of the motorway, puts an end to Tom's bellyaching, both of us relieved we are not sitting in the mile after mile of tailbacks that it's caused, but also both with all our fingers crossed that no one has fared too badly.

I thought we were done with all the wedding chat, but Tom treats me to a “wedding exclusive” which I’m unable to share with you, but I can assure you, you're not missing out on much. Turning off the motorway, we are confronted with a strange concrete structure, that looks like a cross between a rook from a chess set and something from East Berlin.

Passing through the red gate of Forde Park, the initials of the home team Langford FC are spelt out across it in red iron work, as we complete our hattrick of recent cup finals, at another neutral venue. Tom's costume dilemma is only worsened by the ever changing sky, “gonna get wet” he prophesises, the lack of “cover” and the “big grey clouds” means he is sure we are in for a soaking.

To say Forde Park is minimalist, might be an overstatement, shipping containers and conifers are about the only thing of real note. There is a flat roofed clubhouse that looks remarkably like my primary school, a small stand with its name plastered across its back, with it’s faded red seats that are now more like a light shade of pink. There is also a considerable gap around the entirety of the pitch between the side lines and the railing. The dugouts, all brick with black pitch roofs, look like they should have an Air Raid Warden manning them.

If we are treated to a deluge of any kind, there are scant amount of places to scurry to prevent a certain soaking.

The building site fencing that leads all the way from the back of the clubhouse to the edge of the pitch, forming the tunnel that must be at least fifty metres long, just about sums up the make do and mend vibe here. Talking to Pinky, the Baldock Town FC (BT) fairy Godmother and all round non league legend, what she does and the effort she makes for the club and her “boys” as she affectionately describes them, is award worthy, she does not need to tell me she's “nervous, it's painted all over her face.

“Big cup final” she says fidgeting with something in her hands, dressed almost exclusively in pink from head to toe. BT take on Biggleswade FC (BFC) tonight, the team we saw BT play in the most extraordinary match just a few months ago, which ended with a 3 - 2 win for BT. A win that was the only momentary blip in BFC’s march towards the league title, which they won only a couple of days ago.

Pinky through for all her devotion and commitment is coming to the end of her time with BT, after six seasons. Having only started off playing a bit part at the club, in her tenure she has become the beating heart of it. “Only three games to go” she explains, tonight's match, one more in the the league and another cup final, could see her swan song potentially showered in silverware.

“You're our lucky charm” she says to me, a moniker that has been bestowed upon us before by other  teams, which has never ended well, I almost wish she hadn't said it. “So nervous” she tells me again, I wish I could call on a St. Bernard with it’s barrel of brandy, and offer her a stiff drink to settle her nerves.

The BT players are all wearing their Sunday best, one is getting grief for not having a tie on, and is told if the manager notices he is in for a “fine”. Ones outfit choice has Toms chin near enough on the floor, “look” he says pointing at one wearing the full Ronnie Corbett, a pair of tartan trousers. Wandering out onto the pitch, the sun now making an appearance, the BT players look like a wedding party milling about on the lawn at a reception, only one of them is moaning about the grass being too “long”.

Another familiar face, this time a BFC supporter we saw last loitering around a fruit machine when we saw the two sides go head to head, he echos a few of the same sentiments he shared with us that night, that BT will try to “bully” BFC, which was spot on and that there is “no love loss” between the two teams. Both clubs managers might have just been having a cordial chat, but come game time that's all forgotten.

To be fair to BFC, we are probably the last people they would want to see here, “third time lucky” jokes the fan, who won't be the last person to say that to us tonight, as we currently have a 0 - 2 record seeing BFC this season. One of them being their FA Vase Quarter Final, so we might want to keep out heads down.

It has not gone unnoticed by either of us, that the topic of “hangovers” has come up a fair few times since we have arrived, among the BFC supporters and players. Clinching the league title four days previously, I get the feeling the celebrations have only just come to an end, which could maybe work in BT’s advantage.

“That's it, when they're done, they're done” says a man in a grey suit clutching a handful of yellow programmes, that he hands to the old man in a flat cap, sitting inside the small shed, that passes as a turnstile here. There is plenty of the green and white of BFC already on show, they may well be a relatively new club, only formed in 2016, however they have garnered themselves quite a following already, which they proved when they near enough took over Salters Lane for their match in the FA Vase.

The main car park is already full, so the overflow is called into action. Lined up behind one of the goals, one car is just a fraction away from an insurance claim, when a stray ball from the warm up, almost crashes into its windscreen. When a man arrives with a box full of green and white flags, and a lady with an armful of scarves, I think it's safe to say we are in for another partisan crowd. There may well be BT fans here, but they are not quite as apparent the BFC ones, “Green army”.

“I beat you” says the man who has just hoisted his BFC flag on the end of what looks like the longest
fishing pole I’ve ever seen, to a lady holding one of the green ones being handed out, that looks like a toothpick in comparison.

Appearing for his warm up, the referee not for the last time, is the focus of people's attention, but at least on this occasion what they are saying is not preceded or followed with a four letter word. It's all very jovial for now, as he starts his jog, somewhat amused, as is anyone else whose clapped eyes on the kit he’s been provided with. “I’ve gone back to the 90’s” he says laughing to one of his assistants. His green and black shirt certainly has an air of the Uriah Rennie about it.

The mega flagpole is getting some mixed reviews, “you sad bastard” says one man coming out of the bar, the BFC physio is somewhat dumbstruck “what the fuck?”, another person takes the approach my twelve year old son would, when I do something embarrassing and he hits me with a heavy dose of sarcasm “you look really cool”. One man asks what everyone's thinking “is that your fishing rod?”, and the last of many I overhear, is maybe the most damming of all “you need to get out more”. 

Saying all this mind, the owner doesn't seem to give a toss, water off a duck's back you might say, he’s too busy bragging about the size of it to anyone in ear shot, “mines bigger than yours”.

Cars are now having to circumnavigate the entire pitch to find a place to park, “I think you're lost mate” suggests Tom as one disappears out of view for a moment behind the stand as it drives by, near enough pitch side.

“You recovered from Saturday yet?” asks one BFC fan to another, both looking a little bleary eyed. Most of those BFC supporters if they are still suffering a little bit, have taken the hair of the dog approach, as the beer is already free flowing.

When Tom gets his first glimpse of the oversized flag pole, he’s a bit scathing, “it's a bit silly, a bit unnecessary”, OK fun police. A point he does make is that it could do with a “bigger flag” the one flapping about, and I’m not exaggerating thirty five feet up in the air, looks a bit like a green and white hanky, he could do with upscaling. All eyes are off the flag briefly when a ball, and it was only a matter of time, strikes a parked car and gets an agonised “ohhh”, but soon people are back gawping at the man and his pole, which if I'm, honest, I think he is quite enjoying.

There are lots of shouts for the BFC players as they disappear towards the gloom of the unlit tunnel following their warm up, “come on you greens”. However the same cannot be said for the BT players who walk off almost unnoticed. Those still arriving, the car park heaving, no doubt can hear the song that has broken out in the BFC changing room.

Only a few feet onto the pitch, past a couple of waving green flags, the teams are brought to a halt by the referee, who is keen to get the handshakes over with. With cars still passing along the far side of the pitch, windows down, trying to catch a glance of the players huddling. When the ends have been decided, the customary migration takes place, the journey of the BFC flag is not exactly without drama, as he finds itself somewhat entangled with one of the floodlights and one passing BT supporter tells us he, “hopes you can bring us some more luck today”.

The pressure!

For the last time today the ref is a figure of fun, instead of ridicule, when he takes a tumble in the opening minutes, “I want a pint of what he's on” says one person nudging the man next to him. One puts it down not down to the booze, as the hangover talk continues all around us, but down to the state of the playing surface, “that's what happens when you play on Langford pitch”.

Across the next ninety minutes the referee will be at the end some of the most intense vitriol I’ve ever witnessed in all my time watching football.

With not one of them sporting any club colours, the let's say boisterous group to our right, only make their camp known, when one gives up a “come on Baldock”. With the game fully underway, the cars are still pulling up, and I notice our first non league dog in a long time, decked out in a green and white jacket.

After the five goal thriller back in February, it was unlikely we were not going to be treated to a bit of goalmouth action, however I'm surprised it's taken all of thirteen minutes. A header across the box from a BT free kick, sets up the man at the back post perfectly, but his flicked header goes wide, and just like when we saw them last time, BT a big team, look very dangerous from set plays.

The missed BT header somewhat opens the floodgates, as the chances are soon coming thick and fast. “Proper got over it” says one BFC fan, following a half volley from the edge of the box that is sent thundering goalwards, but is blocked by one of the hulking BT defenders. Then moments later BFC send a curling shot well over, that gets a decent round of applause, but it’s more for the effort than the quality of the strike.

After quite a glorious sunset, the sun has now dipped out of sight behind the long row of trees opposite, the sky is clear, and it's ended up turning into a nice evening, the chance of Tom getting wet seems minimal and the flagpole is still turning heads, “is that a fishing rod?”.

“Ref!” barks one of the group to our left, a slaloming BT run has just been brought to an unceremonious end, via the chopping right boot of a BFC midfielder. Looking like a certain free kick, the referee waves play on. “Ref!” snarls the same man, less than a minute later, again a BT player is brought to the ground, this time though the foul is awarded. In decent range for a shot at goal, the BT player tries a Ronaldo esq knuckle ball, and its wide and frankly not very good.

With the season creeping towards its end, it's getting to a point where we start to reflect on the games and teams we’ve watched over the past months. In BFC they are without a doubt one of the best technical sides we’ve seen, who play a truly excellent brand of football. Breaking on BT they switch the play from one side of the pitch, then back again with ease. The flowing move culminates in a shot from the edge of the box, that is just off target.

Twenty minutes gone and a BT foul ignites the first signs of friction, but the referee is on hand to quickly nip it in the bud, before it gets out of hand. BFC float the resulting free kick into the box, where a back post runner tries to steer it across goal and over the keeper, but its wide. “Ohhh” go the flag waving BFC fans to our right, us seemingly acting as some kind of human Donald Trump wet dream between to the two sets of fans.

If it had come off, it would have been a blinder, a goal of the season contender not because it was thrashed in from forty yards, but because of the movement and technique that led up to it. Neat quick one touch exchanges, a turn on a sixpence and an attempt at a back heel assist, very nearly comes off, but the point at the end of the attack, just can't finish it off.

Not that it really matters, because within sixty seconds BFC find themselves ahead. A close range volley high into the net, after a deft dink takes the scrambling BT keeper out of the game. The goal is greeted with the wafting of flags and the giggling of a toddler by one person in the group to our right, the BT fans to our left are quiet and glaring.

“Well read” comments one BT supporter loudly, when his team intercept a lazy BFC cross field pass and are straight on the attack, just after the restart. The long range shot at the culmination of the climax of the move is on target and requires two attempts by the keeper to gather it. BT are a resilient bunch and won’t let going behind rattle them for too long.

It’s all well and good taking your kids to the football, I’ve tried a couple of times, with mixed results. One of the major downsides of it, is maybe not a reason that you would first think of, the fact they have bladders the size of a thimble. “Dad I need the toilet” says one young man, whose Dad is not best pleased with his timing, “If we miss a goal, I won't be happy”.

BT go close again, unsurprisingly from a free kick. The goal bound header is deflected wide, and the big bearded BT coach standing steadfast pitch side, arms crossed, kicking nigh on every ball, flinches in direct response to it going just the wrong side of the post. That was inches away from an equaliser and he knew it.

We’ve encountered our fair share of oddities over the last four years. I always reference the dog in a pram at times like these, which is still yet to be beat, however the sight of a grown man howling, after repeating “Wolves, Wolves, Wolves” is a new strong contender for the top spot of the bizarre list. Wolverhampton have taken the lead against Arsenal, much to Tom’s annoyance, his phone pinging seconds later with a notification to confirm the scoreline.

Even though BFC are ahead, BT are looking the more dominant. Approaching the thirty minute mark and they send a ball careering across the box, but its cut out with a bit of a last ditch thrust. Not that the group of four men behind us would know anything about it, they are huddled around one of their phones watching the Wolves Vs Arsenal match.

Next to the BFC dugout a group of BFC fans are occupying themselves with a few songs, firstly one about someone "having no hair” but they “don't care” and then with a very straight to the point one about how they “hate Baldock”. With the game having slowed quite considerably after such a manic start, they have more time on their hands for the odd shanty.

“Cheers young man” says one BT player, straight out of an episode of Downton, when he hands over
the ball, having retrieved it from a bush. Thanks to the running commentary behind us, we get an excitable update when Wolves go further ahead, which is followed by much scoffing. However things soon take a turn on the pitch, that turns the atmosphere of it rather toxic.

“Ref he's gotta go for that” says one of the BT fans, who is probably about the only one who is not frothing at the mouth or whose eyes aren't about to pop out of their head, having just watched one of their players reduced to a crumpled heap on the floor, after the most shocking of high, late and lunging “animal of a tackle” as one person puts it, by the BFC number 9, a proper strikers challenge. Right out the Alan Shearer book of trying to win the ball back.

After much rutting and shoving on the pitch, the BFC player is shown a straight red, and like most players who get dismissed, has a look on his face of injustice, but he hasn't got a leg to stand on.

As you can imagine the language from those around us gets a little fruity, “dirty cunt” shouts one as the BFC player makes his way off slowly, “lift your head up and get the fuck off” growls another. About the only thing said that could be repeated pre watershed, is another hark back to a bygone age, one man giving a very chipper, “cheerio”. If the red card wasn't punishment enough, the final indignation is that there is no one on hand to open the gate for the BFC player, so he is forced to fumble it open himself.

A long break ensues, while the BT player is attended to by the big beard from the BT technical area, and it allows the referee and his team to pick the bones out of the brawl which followed the horror tackle. Two players are singled out and marched off for a talking to, the BFC player getting himself a yellow, which one BT sub called a “bottle job”, and just when the BT’s players and fans probably thought their luck had turned, BFC down to ten, their number 10 is shown a red for his part in the melee and both teams have now been reduced to 10, which yes you guessed it, is not well received, “ref that's fucking stupid”.

With both teams as one person points out having “lost a forward”, I’m not sure what that does to our chances of seeing many more goals. With the game back underway, rumour start flying about that the departing BFC player was “attacked” in the tunnel, “hit from behind twice” apparently, which if it's true, is certainly a “a discharge” as one BFC fan brands it.

Feeling every bit the buffer between the two sets of rival fans, Tom whispers in my ear, “just a little bit” when I suggest its all got a little bit tense.

One young BT fan is feeling upbeat, back from his toilet run, his Dad maybe missing all the chaos of the sending off, but not a goal, announces “we are gonna win this”, which gets a less than positive reply, “we've more chance winning the raffle”. You what, there's a raffle, how hard is it just to put a little bloody poster up, advertising the fact a hamper of local cheese or a shit bottle of wine is up for grabs at half time.

“Good half ref” says one BT fan, playing the sarcasm card. It’s lets say a muted reception for both teams as they head off. Plenty of players and staff want the ear of the man in change, who does well to fend them off, as he heads back to the sanctuary of his dressing room. Considering the attendance, it's very quiet in the break, Tom’s off and the flag at the end of the big pole is looking a little sad, dare I saw droopy. A few of the green plastic ones aren't faring much better, they've been abandoned by their owners in search of a drink I suspect and Toms night just goes from bad to worse, Arsenal are now losing by three.

“No chips, no raffle, no water, warm Coke” is about as close as you can get to a personal nightmare for us two, and these are Tom’s first words on returning from the clubhouse. He does have a burger for himself, but because I didn't specify a secondary drink option, I’m going without.

Lifting it to his mouth, Tom takes a knowing sigh before telling me, “right I hope this doesn't kill me” and then proceeds to take a bite of his burger. Mouth still half full, the tone of his voice takes a rapid upturn, “ohhh it's quite nice” he says, and then does something he has never, ever done before, offers me some, “I kind of want you to try it”.

The ground is rife with talk of punch ups, rumours are flying around about the brother of the fouled BT player, who according to one person it's his “birthday” today, going after the BFC number nine up the tunnel.

BT are out well early, but the BFC starting eleven are nowhere to be seen, just their substitutes, and as it gets ever closer to kick off, one person suggests BT “might not bother”. The delay in their appearance has sent the conspiracy theorists in the crowd into overdrive, someone saying he reckons BFC might just “call it quits” even Tom is swept up in it, “you think they're coming out?”and although I think it's very unlikely they would just quit, the fact the referee is not out yet either is a bit odd.

“What would happen, would Baldock win?” hypothesises Tom.

Kick off is well past schedule when BFC finally make an appearance, one person sounding like a friend does when you turn up late for a night out, “oh here you go”, when they start trickling out. Around us the BT mob have been replaced by a BFC one and it's like the recording of a Derek & Clive LP. I’m a fan of the word cunt when used on choice occasions, I understand it's not a word for everyone, but I've never heard as many times as I do, in the next forty five minutes, in the entirety of my whole life.

There are a few shouts from the BT fans and from a couple of the players too, “come on Baldock”. When the game does eventually get underway, it's a false start and has to be taken again.

A new arrival to the nearby BFC ranks, is doing a thing I can't abide, far worse than swearing, pyro or a bad tackle, he’s, and I’m struggling to type this, defacing his programme, writing the substitutions in it. Quick, pass me the carbolic soap, I feel filthy just saying it.

It's a feisty start to the new half to say the least, “refs going to lose control of this game soon” says Tom, the match feels precariously balanced on a knife's edge, like it’s going to boil over at any moment and I almost wince at the prospect of the next tackle . BFC have the first chance of the half, a header from a corner bounces down into the turf and over and in their number 7, with his shock of Sonic the Hedgehog ginger hair, they have a player who is at the centre of almost all their attacks, “one to watch” says Tom. He was impressed both times we saw him before and he is again tonight.

It’s all BFC, “he’s never going to give that” tuts one fan, rustling their green plastic fan, the end of a “nice” BFC move as Tom calls it, sees a player go down in the box, but its waved away. BT can’t get out of their own half, and its wave after wave of green attacks. Another “ohhhhh” rings out when a bouncing volley from outside the area, skips just wide of the post, with the BT keeper left grasping at air.

The reasonably stiff breeze and my overly long hair, I’m in desperate need of getting it cut, has Tom smirking to himself, he takes much pleasure when in his professional opinion he tells me through a grinning mouth, that my barnet looks like “Donald Trumps”.

If BT are going to get back into this match, it feels like the only way will be via a set piece. Again they go close when a back post header, is hooked off the line. When they do attempt to shoot from open play, nine times out of ten its high and wide, one such shot clearing the goal and hitting one of the cars behind it, “have a shot next time” chuckles an unimpressed BFC fan.

Showcasing again the standard of football they are capable of, BFC almost score the most obscure goal, so well crafted. It all starts with a scooped pass over the BT back line, ginger Sonic races through, latching on to it, he shoots with his first touch. On this occasion the BT keeper is equal to it and going the full starfish, he blocks it from going in, and gets the plaudits from both sets of fans, “good save keeper”.

Another flare up, a heated exchange between players, at their feet BFC’s number 7 is prone, and I’m struggling to work out what exactly happened to result in the best player on the pitch, going down clutching his head. Tom uses the distraction of the injury, to slyly take a bite of a Snickers he had secreted in his pocket, I think he thinks I didn't notice, but I did.

From behind the goal to our left, and as one BFC fan quite rightly points out, when some BT fans make what I think can be considered some unexpected noise, wonders “where they've been?”

“Hit it” demands one BFC supporter, the BT keeper well out of his goal when the ball falls to the feet of a BFC player in midfield. You can see him contemplating the lob, but in the end doesn't try a David Beckham circa 1996. BFC have really hit their stride now, they are positively purring, the fans clap their slick passing, the woman standing behind her newly erected BFC flag over the wall around the pitch, one of the most appreciative.

Sticking to type it’s a BT corner which for a moment looks like it might be their way back in once again, but this time as one confused BFC fan says, the player in the box heads the ball “the wrong way”, instead of goalwards, its back towards the corner flag.

The tension has somewhat depleted, Tom holds up a single finger, he thinks we’ve seen all the goals were going to get, “1-0”. He takes further bites of his Snickers, “got to keep my fuel up” is how he justifies his selfish snacking, remember my mouth is parched, no thanks to him. A lady hands out further flags, a couple more go over the wall around the pitch, but more and more people are discussing the goings on at Molineux now, than the game in front of them.

The game may have tailed off somewhat, but we still have the tireless BFC number 7 to entertain us, “he doesn't stop” comments Tom, almost out of breath just at the thought of the miles the BFC wide man must clock up in a match, and doesn't look any worse for it. There are more shouts for a BFC player to “shoot” this time it's from the bench, but again the players hesitates, and again a sigh ripples from the crowd.

“He’s class” coos a BFC fan, their number 7 is back at it again, bundled over on the edge of the BT box after a “great run” as one supporter puts it, he is somehow not rewarded with a free kick. “Come on referee” decries one supporter.

Twenty to go and BT have their first shot in what feels like an age, and it inspires a chant from their newly formed glee club behind the goal, “let’s go Baldock, let's go”. The big flag pole is doing laps now, but its not without incident, “tree, tree” warns one person to its barer, but it's too late and for the second time tonight he finds himself entangled.

 “Get him off cunt” shouts one of the pitchfork waving mob of BFC fans, after another brutal challenge, which leaves one BFC player in a heap. Bombarded, the referee is given all sorts of advice from the sidelines, “don't bottle it ref”, “its knee high”. After a brief explanation to the offending player, he reaches for his top pocket and presents BT with their second red card of the match. Reducing them to nine, the dismissed player makes the slow walk off, as the BFC player still down is treated with almost an entire can of cold spray, and the leaving BFC player is serenaded, “cheerio, cheerio, cheerio”.

BT are losing their heads, the sending off still fresh in everyone's minds and they commit another foul that gets fans and players alike all riled up. “Knob” says one BFC supporter behind us towards the BT perpetrator, from underneath his sizable beard, club hat and scarf.

If it was any other team, you might call it showboating, but having seen BFC the amount of times we have now, I think you would just say it’s the way they play. A back heel, a pirouette, and just as he was about to shoot, the BFC player is clattered to the ground. “Knee high, red” screams one BFC fan, those three words quickly becoming the catchphrase of the occasion, dished out following any kind of contact. In the eyes of the whole ground a stonewall penalty, in the referees a corner. Outrage ensures.

BT prepare themselves for one last push, shouts of “gamble” from the bench, push them ever further up the pitch, but they now look even more prone to get picked off by one of BFC’s pacy counter attacks. With less than ten to go, its a case of all up front, a soft punch in a crowded penalty area by the all blue BFC keeper, presents the ball to a BT player on the edge of the box, who takes a powerful swipe, sending his shot through a sea of bodies. The man next to me a BFC fan predicts a “goal”. Ending up in the arms of the keeper, who falls to the ground clutching it, there are loud shouts of “handball” from the BT fans, but the referee squashes any suggestion of a penalty.

BFC counter and it looks like number 7 is going to get himself on the score sheet, one on one with the keeper, one BT supporter instructs the keeper to “come out now” which he does, and in combination with a less than convincing shot, he saves with his feet and keeps BT in the game for just a little bit longer.

“Drill it” demands a BT fan, as the ball falls to a player in red on the edge of the box once more, he does just that through a packed area, and again there are shouts for a pen and again its waved away. “All or nothing now” says Tom, BT’s last hurrah has come so close to an equaliser, but they are wide open at the back and it feels like just a matter of time before one of these BFC attacks culminates in their second goal.

“Gotta be four at least” thinks one person, considering all the stoppages, there might be even more added on. The green and white flag at the end of its uber pole now hangs over the pitch and around the mouth of the tunnel all the necessaries are being prepared for the presentation of the cup.

Maybe tempting fate, one BFC fans thinks we might have broken our “duck” as full time approaches. It’s almost a case of him counting his chickens when BT go close for the last time and then BFC do what they have been threatening to do for the last twenty minutes or so, outnumbering BT at the back, they bag their second. The first shot from out wide is parried into the six yard box, BFC’s number 7 almost gets on the end of it, but it won't fall to him, instead it falls to a teammate who slots it home.

“Too early for ribbons” says one of the men in suits crowded around the table covered in the maroon boxes containing the winners medals and the short silver cup. The game still going on behind him he rummages around in a paper bag for the appropriate coloured accessory to adorn the prize.

In the moments after the final whistle, many of the things you would expect following the conclusion of a cup final play out. The BFC players punch the air, the BT ones fall to the ground. A firecracker of some sort goes off in the distance and some of those on the move already, not waiting around for the presentations, honk their horns in celebration as they leave.

Not content with the single green ribbons added to the cup, one BFC fan adds her own finishing touches, and by the time shes down, green streamers are cascading down from each handle. BT are the first of the two teams to break their post match huddle to collect their runners up medals and then of course its the turn of the victors, to lift into the nights sky their second bit of silverware in less than a week, breaking into a few short lived lines of "championes, championes".

Handed a few bottles of fizz, not a drop is wasted on the pitch, instead its directed straight into their
managers face, from close range, leaving him struggling to catch his breath, staggering backwards with his eyes closed, absolutely drenched.

With BFC promoted, its probably not a bad thing these two sides don't play each other for a while, or they might need a fleet of those tiny helicopters from Mash. Blood and thunder to the enth degree, on and off the pitch. A game that just about had everything, goals, cards, Tom said he saw one of the dismissed players watching the remainder of the match angrily from his pitch side car, not sure you could ask for more.

If I didn't fancy being a referee before, I definitely don't after today. In a moment of non sweary clarity, one BT fan rightly said it was a "difficult game" for the referee and I think when all is said and done, he had a good game. I couldn't put up with all that grief and come back for more, so all the power to him.

Oh and the flag pole had a name, not mega pole or uber pole, but something far more poetic, far more bohemian, Spirit Of The Air.

For all of our photographs from the match, click HERE

Watch our video from the match ↓ HERE

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