As you sit down and eagerly trawl your way through another wonderful edition of the village Diary spring is, no doubt, already in full flow outside and the memory of a cold, waterlogged, windy winter is already just a fading echo yielding to the delicious expectation of summer’s arrival. And so, with little apology, let me burst that particular bubble. At the time of writing, all I can say is that it’s been cold, it’s been wet, then it’s been even colder, and then it’s been even wetter! Regardless, the football club has battled on through the Siberian winds, the American storms and the Arctic blasts and it has been (mostly) great.
The run in to Christmas saw some fantastic results across the various age groups, with scalps being claimed from all of the five big-town teams (Berko, Hemel, Tring, Harpenden and Watford). There is no denying that Little Gaddesden continues to punch well, well above its weight in terms of results. This is a real testimony to the dedication and hard work of all our coaches and, of course the ferocious support from the parents……most of the time…..
On the last Saturday before Christmas the club had its usual mulled wine and mince pie morning. Under a crisp blue sky, the children served out mulled wine and mince pies to the assembled parents, and then a rabble of small children went door to door around Bede Court serving out the Christmas fare and chatting animatedly with the kindly, somewhat bemused residents.
But lurking menacingly just beneath this veneer of seasonal goodwill was another matter exercising everyone’s emotions…. the pending inaugural Christmas Cup. Some have said that this brainchild of Bruce Andrews was a means for the coaches to exert dominance and their claims to superior footballing knowledge over the parents, others have said that it was to be a lovely way to bond our little community and run off some of the excesses of Christmas. Either way, the true reward for the victors in our first ever ‘Coaches vs Dads’ Christmas Cup, namely bragging rights for the next twelve months, was possibly going to be the richest prize in world football. As the talking escalated and the tension mounted, it became clear that adjudicating this contest wasn’t going to be at all straightforward. There was only one man the village could turn to. Cue John Russell! When I asked him if he could ref the match, John’s immediate answer was “Yes, of course… I’ll just have to find my wellies.” This didn’t fill me with any confidence that John had ever refereed a football match before… or possibly even seen a football match. But no matter, our accomplished peace-keeper with the assurance of a mandate from on high stepped onto the battlefield and kept the peace (or a least managed the war) and prevented Little Gaddesden from tearing itself apart from within. It would therefore seem churlish to mention the blatantly good goal he disallowed, or the undeserved penalty award he did give. The records will show that the Coaches won 5-1 and that peace and goodwill reigned supreme.
And I should add that the collection of assembled wives and children (numbering about 50) seemed to enjoy it also, no doubt fortified by yet more mulled wine and biscuits. My personal highlight of the day was Stafford Lancaster’s penalty. When I asked him about this after the game, he mumbled something about being momentarily overcome with confusion and at the moment of striking the ball was thinking of rugby. Anyway, a finer try conversion a man could not have kicked - the ball sailed 15 feet clear over the top of the crossbar. From the cackling uproar on the sidelines, I think wives also enjoyed that tremendously and apparently, within the hour, so did the good citizens of 47 other countries around the world as the video clip went viral in the Twitter-sphere.
Our sincere thanks to John for refereeing (and minus his wellies) and for presenting the Christmas Cup to the gigglingly delighted winning-team captain, Bruce Andrews.
Moving on, we now look forward to the home run into May and the end of our season. This is my favourite part of the year, as it starts to get warm again, the squads are well bonded and we start having a great time at tournaments all over Hertfordshire, culminating in our own end-of-season club competition.
But for now, as usual, it just remains for me to thank the village for supporting the football club, the tireless energy and dedication of the coaches, and the parents who are always quick to lend a hand. The kids continue to love Little Gaddesden Rangers, and we go from strength to strength.
U11s – Nick Leach
The U11s, happily relocated to Ashridge and enjoying the wonderful draining pitches up there, are continuing where we left off last season. With three new recruits this season increasing the squad to 27, the main issue is deciding who to leave out of matches.
Notable performances include a 12-0 demolition of Nascot Wood, and a recent 9-2 victory over Sandridge, which Omer is somehow claiming responsibility for!
We look forward to the National Futsal Cup later this month, followed by the Hatters Cup (played at Luton Town FC stadium!) and also the end of season tournaments.
If you want to witness everything that is good in football, then you can do worse than to come up to beautiful Ashridge House on a nice spring Sunday morning and admire the football on show!
U10s – Andrew Lawley
Presumably we've decided to invest all the club savings having a bronze bust made of each of the Christmas Cup winning squad members to be installed on the field of glory as a permanent reminder…?
Thanks Andrew, very helpful - Omer
U9s – Mark Consedine
The two U9 teams are regularly putting out really strong games against very good opposition. We have been working on holding our positions, passing the ball around the pitch and working as a team. It’s becoming very impressive to watch, and the results achieved mostly against much larger clubs tell the whole story. The combined scorecard (across both teams) so far this season is a hugely impressive: won 59%, drawn 16%, and lost only 25%.
U8s – Tim Mayes
Barcelona might have a warmer clime and better tapas than LG yet there is a similar style of beautiful passing football emerging amongst the under 8s this season. Skill development, inclusion, enjoyment of the game, teamwork and above all great sportsmanship remain our key focus. This has proved extremely popular, swelling our membership to almost 30. Greater scale allows us to field two teams each week and the boys have had some superb results against several larger towns. Special mentions to our village boys who have all made terrific progress this season - Jamie, Josh, Noah, Tom and William. Sadly our FA cup application was too late this year. Maybe next?