Fellow Yellows – Harborough Town FC

FA Vase, 1st Qualifying Round
Harborough Town FC v Holbrook Sports FC
Non League Day – Saturday, 7th September 2013, 3.15pm
Bowden Park
Entrance £5, Programme £1.50
Distance 68 miles, Attendance 80
cast signed bWithin a month of work promoting this season’s Non League Day – to commemorate the occasion – I’d been planning my own special yellow hop; to another team called the Hornets, located somewhere in the back of beyond. That was of course, before the tale of the halfpipe and the stunt scooter.
Being unable to drive, plans of visiting “the other hornets” were hastily postponed as I sort, first a new plan A (reasonable distance away but near a train station) and an emergency plan B (very close to home, near a station, and only to be opened if the fracture clinic cast doom on my broken hand).
Stepping into Market Harborough – one stop from St. Pancras – the late summer scene was in total contrast to my arm-in-sling mood. Located within what was once the medieval royal hunting forest of Rockingham, this beautiful market town was happily bustling with activity as I strolled over the canal, en route to Northampton Road.

130907 NLD FAVase Harborough Town v Holbrook Sports (46)

A mile or so later – past a picturesque cemetery – housing gave way to rolling countryside and to my right, a sprawling sports complex. Also home to the local leisure centre, tennis and Market Harborough RUFC, the large area contains a multitude of pitches and breath-taking training facilities for the 36 sides run by Harborough Town.

130907 NLD FAVase Harborough Town v Holbrook Sports (55)w

Founded in 1975, the club has come a long way. Their focus on youth development has led to the genesis of true community club, boasting Richard Stearman (once of Leicester City), Chris Carruthers (Northampton Town) and “England’s last World Cup winning captain” Martin Johnson amongst their alumni. Even on the day I arrived there was time to catch the “Vets” first two goals in their 5-2 win, the “Thirds” warming up, and kit preparations being made for the U18 girls.
130907 NLD FAVase Harborough Town v Holbrook Sports (33)Mirroring the town centre, throughout the impressive facilities volunteers jovially went about their business, as I wandered opened-mouthed about mine. I’ve been to “FA Charter Standard Community” clubs before but, this one is really exceptional; from the warmth of the welcome, to the quality of the bacon rolls.
By kick-off, new sponsor team photos had been taken, rabbit holes filled on the pitch, and fans, parents, volunteers and the Vets had gathered, hopeful of a great cup match. This wonderful camaraderie about me made a tight first half more entertaining, as both sides were restricted to long range efforts but, just before the break defences were breached.

130907 NLD FAVase Harborough Town v Holbrook Sports (67)w

After the visitor’s captain incredibly missed an open goal, his strike partner Paul Fisher curled a stunning shot into the top corner nearest us. At the start of the second half Joe Forster scored the second before Fisher made it 0-3 from the penalty spot.
130907 NLD FAVase Harborough Town v Holbrook Sports (136)wWith just 20 minutes remaining and all hope dwindling, both the heavens and the goal floodgates opened. The introduction of subs Cam Starsmore and Jake Bettles turned the game on its head, and as a double rainbow rose over the clubhouse, Harborough found their pot of gold. Holbrook’s stopper, Andy Fretwell really didn’t stand a chance.
First came Starsmore’s bullet on 73, Jack Burrows headed the second on 80, and Taras Petranyuk equalised just before time. In extra time two further goals from Starsmore sealed the incredible comeback.
130907 NLD FAVase Harborough Town v Holbrook Sports (114)For years friends have maintained how great the FA Vase is; after today it’s hard not to believe them. Ok stopping a game to clear fox poo from the pitch was somewhat novel but, what an incredible host club, with a friendly community of staff and players of all ages, superb food, and an absurdly good eight-goal thriller; two of which would’ve left Lineker & Co drooling for weeks.
Two hours earlier the ever helpful Pauline Winston had encouraged me to “pull up a chair” and enjoy the game but, I couldn’t have sat still through this match, and thanking everyone profusely in the excitement afterwards, I almost missed my train home.
Fate is a very strange beast; pondering my fortune it was fairly evident that, if I hadn’t broken my fingers I would have missed this game. As the saying goes; no pain, no gain.
shorts league
 Im Supporting - RGB
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Initially appearing in the 2013-14 Watford FC matchday programmes, consequently these reports will have a delayed publication on here.

Fellow Yellows programme (2)

This entry was posted in 2012-2013, FA Vase, Fellow Yellows, Non League Day and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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