Monday, 6 November 2017

Bishop's Waltham Dynamos v Overton United

The long walk from the dressing rooms.
I've recently been reading about artificial intelligence and the rise of machine learning. Scary stuff.

I'm sure most people are aware of how they're targeted by automated algorithms in various places on the internet, whether that's for advertising purposes or for more sinister reasons, from the simple "If you like James Blunt, then you will probably also enjoy Cannibal Corpse" on Amazon and similar sites (I may have got that one slightly wrong...), to the shady opinion-swaying advertorials from corporate-backed so-called "thinktanks" that appear on our Facebook feeds because we once clicked "Like" on a meme about chain smoking kittens.

But now the machines are coming and we're all going to have to learn new skills to survive - unless you're a meat-packer or a chief executive of a multinational company, in which case, you can carry on as you are.

Bishop's Waltham Dynamos gathering their thoughts before kick-off as the rain clouds glower down on those below.
Details:
Bishop's Waltham Dynamos FC (1) 1 v 4 (2) Overton United FC
UK Office Systems Hampshire FA Intermediate Cup
Saturday 4th November 2017
Attendance: About 20
Admission: No
Programme: No
Colours: Yellow / red / red v Blue and white stripes / white / blue
National Grid reference: SU5417

Dynamos come close to doubling their early lead, but this shot was saved.
I was reading a report with an infographic which shows you the likelihood of your job being done by machines over the next 15 years or so. I found mine, and apparently, there's an 87% chance that my job will be done by a deep learning trained robot before I retire - and they're pretty good odds compared to some. If you work in a job that is routine and repetitive, your days are probably numbered - this group includes telemarketers, accountants and shopworkers; if, on the other hand, your work involves creativity or empathy, you'll probably be okay.

Of course, new jobs will be created by this new technology, but the worry this time (compared to previous technological revolutions) is that nearly every sector will be affected at the same time, because machine learning can be applied universally and it's developing so rapidly. So many people will become superfluous at the same time, with not enough jobs left to go round.

I already refuse to use the automated checkouts in supermarkets (that used to be someone's job!), and I shall in the near future refuse to use automated vehicles that have put human drivers on the scrapheap. I'll do my bit.

Equaliser for Overton as Steve Price heads in.
Footballers will be safe from this unstoppable tidal wave of automation. At least, the creative ones will be. Not so sure about the routine, repetitive Tony Pulis teams, mind. We're going to have an awful lot of leisure time in the near future, so luckily we'll still have our sport, whether we're playing it or watching it.

With my playing days long since over, I'll carry on getting my dose of fresh air on a Saturday afternoon whilst listening to 22 muddy blokes in their twenties and thirties yelling "Do we want this boys?!", "Left shoulder!" and "In the hole!" to each other.

This week, it was a trip to the small Meon Valley town of Bishop's Waltham, the home of Jeff "And that's the first goal Stranraer have conceded in over 800 minutes of football" Stelling. It's a pleasant place, bigger than nearby Colden Common, and ten times larger than neighbouring Upham, both of whom have Hampshire Premier League football teams.

Jonnie Gurney weaves his way through the Dynamos defence on his way to scoring Overton's second.
Bishop's Waltham also used to have a team in the Hampshire League, and not so long ago. Bishop's Waltham Town finished as Division One runners-up in 1992-93, which is as high as they ever managed. They spent a couple of seasons at the bottom end of the expanded Wessex League a decade or so ago before resigning during 2006-07. They were then absorbed by Sporting BTC and played on for another five seasons before changing their name to Sporting Bishop's Waltham for four seasons before reverting back to Bishop's Waltham Town in 2013-14, when they folded mid-season for a second time.

The "new" senior team in the town is Bishop's Waltham Dynamos, who were previously a junior side with a large number of children's teams. The Dynamos senior men's team have been working their way up the Southampton Saturday League. They were promoted to the top division last season as champions, and going in to this game, they were leading the table with just a single defeat so far.

Overton United keeping dry during the half-time team talk.
Dynamos' opponents on Saturday were Overton United, who play two steps higher in the Hampshire Premier Football League Senior Division, so it was an intriguing "David v Goliath" match-up (sort of!). The competition was the Hampshire FA Intermediate Cup, which I featured in the previous round when Warsash Wasps took on Clanfield.

This tie turned out to be a little closer than the match at Warsash (it finished 5-1 to Clanfield there). Indeed, for the first quarter of the game, Dynamos looked the more likely winners. They took the lead on the heavy pitch after 5 minutes, when James Cox shot towards the bottom left of the goal, which Overton's keeper anticipated, but a deflection directed the ball in to the opposite corner.

Dynamos then had several chances to double their lead before Overton equalised after 26 minutes. Steve Price got his head to a corner ball near the penalty spot. There was no stopping that one as it flew between keeper Fin Taylor and the defender guarding the post.

It had been overcast and gloomy since kick-off, but now the rain started to fall intermittently. The only cover at Bishop's Waltham's Priory Park is the shelter offered by trees surrounding the pitch on three sides (if you count the trees lining the track on the near side as you enter the complex). Those who had come prepared with wellies and umbrellas were the wise ones.

A cheeky peak over the hedge.
The rain didn't bother the players, least of all Overton's Johnnie Gurney, who had already had a couple of probes at the Dynamos defence. After 41 minutes, he received the ball near the centre-circle and went on a weaving run. Past one defender, past another, then another until he reached the edge of the box. No panic. No problem, as he slipped the ball under the advancing keeper. "That's the difference between these two teams - they just have that little bit of extra quality when they need it" as I was told by a bystander.

The extra quality allied to the confidence boost of going a goal up just before half-time meant that the away side were in almost complete control during the second half. Gurney and Price both scored again, each from close range, to keep their travelling support happy. They progressed to the last 32 of the competition with their 4-1 victory, whereas Dynamos can concentrate on the league. If they play as well for the rest of the season as they did for the first twenty minutes here, they may well make it two championships in a row come April time.

The next round of this cup is due to be played on December 2nd. Overton United will travel to Montefiore Halls (another Southampton Saturday League club who play at Wide Lane in Eastleigh).

The sun comes out for the first time all afternoon just as it's time to go home.
Rereading the opening couple of paragraphs, I feel I must apologise for being such a miserable old goat, but I'm not changing it all now. Everything will be fine. It always is.

For the last two HAH's before Christmas, I'm going to feature two more cup games (making it an entire half-season of knockout matches - no idea if I can keep that up from January until the end of the season...). The next one will be a Southampton Senior Cup tie on November 18th, then something on December 2nd - the Hampshire Intermediate Cup clashes with the FA Vase, and I can only choose one! I may throw that one open to a vote on the HAH Facebook page.

Speaking of which, there will be another 40 or so pictures from Bishop's Waltham on there before bedtime tonight.