Saturday, 29 December 2007

26/12/2007 - Soham Town Rangers 3 Mildenhall Town 1

Well it's taken me a few months to get another posting up and ready, but here we go, Boxing Day football, the perfect antidote to the family excesses of the festive period.

I took advantage of a Christmas week away at Center Parks at Elveden Forest, to slip away to the Fenland derby between Soham Town Rangers and Mildenhall Town.
It was my first ever visit to Soham and naturally on arrival at the town my thoughts drifted past the terrible events of 2002 and the deaths of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

I was surprised at the size of the town. I always had the impression from the news reports that this was more of a sleepy rural village when it actually is quite a large market town with a population of over 9,000.

Kick off for the match was a civillised 12 noon and I set off around 11am to get to the town, get some cash and get to the ground. A weaving journey through the Fens took me longer than expected, the cash points were to a man cashless at the first three attempts and then I got lost three times going to Julius Martin Lane, saved only by the web browser on my phone for some last minute support.

As it was I arrived and bought my festive raffle ticket - the only time of the year I take on the weekly gamble - just as the two teams were marching out to the strains of the Match of the Day theme.

Soham's ground is very pleasing to the eye, relaxing within a large boundary fence in plenty of space. Covered terracing stands at each end, the far side is open to the elements along a guard rail, while the dugouts, changing rooms, grandstand and clubhouse make up the near side.

The weather was crisp but not cold, the green turf tacky but not sticky, and a winter sun, low in the sky, had the 258-strong crowd shielding their eyes when play swung that way.

Mildenhall Town took an early lead through a slightly jammy effort which took two deflections en route to wrong-footing the keeper and looping into the net.

Soham replied almost immediately following a poor clearance by an under-pressure Mildenhall keeper which went straight to a home forward who squared for a cool shot by Darren Jimson.

They then furthered their lead after half an hour when Paul Jones slid in at the far post to convert a cross.

Soham were well deserving of their lead and wrapped up the points on the hour mark through a goal from Michael Simpson.

My two other highlights were the best cheeseburger and chips I've ever had at non league football and the interesting programme cover which relates to the 1944 Soham Railway Disaster.