|A sign with the times.|
Then again, he may have been thinking about his wonder save from a few seconds earlier. How would he describe it to his family upon his return to Somerset? How high had he leapt? How fast was the ball travelling? Like a fisherman's catch, it was more and more impressive the more he thought about it.
Perhaps he'd been distracted by something more prosaic, like thinking about what he'd have for dinner that evening? Or maybe he'd bumped in to ex-TVS newsreader Chris Peacock in the clubhouse and had just realised why his name was so funny to teenage boys. Did he have a brother called Drew? Did he call his dad Pop?
Whatever the reason, it didn't change a thing. The ball had slipped out of his gloves and was now resting beside the goalpost, a few inches over the goal line. 1-0 to Hartley Wintney.
|This way to FA Cup fun.|
Hartley Wintney FC (0) 1 v 1 (0) Clevedon Town FC
FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round (with Budweiser)
Saturday 12th October 2013
Programme: Unfortunately sold out when I arrived, but I know from my previous visit that they are excellent value for money at £1.
Colours: All orange v Blue and white stripes / blue / blue
National Grid reference: SU7656
|And you will know us by the trail of bread...Hartley Wintney's thatched duck house.|
This time saw them at home to a club in the relegation zone of the league immediately above, so they must have been confident of a win which would see them in the draw for the final round before Football League clubs enter the competition. The likes of Aldershot Town, Edgar-Davids-Barnet or Luton Town potentially awaited Saturday's winners.
|Hartley Wintney FC's clubhouse at half-time on Saturday.|
- Men v monsters
- Chimpanzees v mountain gorillas
- Gorillas v Godzilla
- Hobbits v trolls
- The first tiny primitive mammals v tyrannosaurus rex
- Underpants v vicious wood ants
Or we could stick with David versus Goliath.
|No spectators beyond this point is what it says.|
They reminded me of myself at a similar age - they knew which league Hartley played in, as well as all their opponents. They knew all about Camberley and Badshot Lea and Havant & Waterlooville - they'd been unlucky to lose to the Hawks on Tuesday evening - "only 3-0 against a team from three divisions above us!" They were looking forward to going to Molineux in a later round of the FA Cup, as the game was bound to be televised.
The main talking point of the first half was when Hartley's full-back was sent off when the ball hit his face and rebounded on to his hand on the goal line. The ref awarded a penalty, which was saved by Hartley's keeper. The boys weren't impressed by the referee's decision and thought the save was justice done. They were definitely on their way to Wolverhampton now...
|What happened next?|
Going down to ten men didn't affect Hartley Wintney adversely. Indeed, it had the opposite effect as the sending off had been harsh in their eyes. It was like watching a game of pinball as the ball pinged from one end of the pitch to the other, both sides having chance after chance, but nothing went right until Clevedon's keeper had his nightmare moment ten minutes into the second period.
|Some of the crowd of 410 watching from Hartley Wintney's stand.|
With ten minutes remaining, the homesters were resembling the first tiny shrew-like proto-mammals, their primitive legs and lungs knackered after being relentlessly pursued by vicious giant carnivores. It was almost inevitable that Clevedon would equalise, and so they did, via a deflected long-range shot. The ten-year-olds had spotted that Town's number 11 was their most effective player - it was he that stuck his foot out to score.
That wasn't the end of the action, as Mr Notebook tells me that Clevedon hit the post again; they then had four shots in succession blocked by brave defenders' bodies; and finally, number 11 was adjudged by the ref to have dived to try and win a penalty with two minutes remaining. The ref booked him.
And so it finished 1-1. A nitroglycerine rocket-powered stormer of a cup tie. To be replayed just two days later with the whole of the Hartley team having to take a half day off of work to travel to the West Country. Surely they'd blown their big chance?
|The fire exit. Or the entrance to an enchanted world?|
The replay is going on as I write on Monday evening. Hartley's Twitter feed tells me that the half-time score is 2-0 to Clevedon. The winners will be at home to either Grays Athletic or Daventry Town in the final qualifying round.
Edit: extraordinary goings-on in the replay according to Twitter. The Row (Hartley Wintney's nickname) came back to win 4-3 with a penalty in the 96th minute! The village team with the thatched duck house will be playing, quite unbelievably, in the final qualifying round of the FA Cup in a fortnight! They could yet be playing at Molineux or Bramall Lane or Fratton Park in early November. Quite extraordinary. It's going to be quite an occasion on October 26th.