Posted by: musinganorak | September 30, 2010

What Sport Is It Tonight?

Once you get outside of the top 4 football leagues you start to find grounds that are actually multi-sport venues, the only example in the 92 is Brighton with their current home at the Withdean Stadium which is also an athletics track. As you head down the levels this becomes more prevalent and there are a large number of clubs whose pitch is the infield of an athletics facility. You also get clubs whose ground overlaps with the local cricket club, which always makes it fun when the respective seasons overlap. I have also been to a ground that is surrounded by a cycle track. Tonight went one step further. The Gosling Sports Ground, the new home of Hatfield Town, is a pitch surrounded by an athletics track, which in turn is surrounded by a cycle track. Three for the price of one.

On the whole pitches that are surrounded by running tracks are not particularly enjoyable. Often you are not permitted to stand alongside the pitch which means you are quite a long way from the action. Another common problem is that stands built for watching the athletics are usually not particularly elevated which again does nothing to enhance the football viewing experience. This doesn’t prove to be the case at the Gosling. The addition of the banked cycle track means that although you are even further from the pitch there is sufficient elevation to give a good view. There is also the option of watching from the balcony of the bar which gives a really good view as you look down on the pitch from an almost Wembley-esque height.

The match is a Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division encounter between Hatfield Town and an unbeaten Royston Town. It is the visitors who make the best start and go ahead within a couple of minutes, a cross to the far post finds the attacker unmarked for a simple tap in. The game is pretty much one way traffic and it is a bit of a surprise that it takes another half an hour for the lead to be increased when another cross takes a deflection for another simple goal. Eventually the home side start to get their act together and they manage to pull one goal back before half time, albeit that they should have conceded another couple.

The second half is a much more even contest and Hatfield manage to level the scores on 54 minutes when a free kick from outside the box is fired in and seems to bobble along the ground and straight in. The remainder of the game is end to end with both sides having chances to go ahead. The home side are the ones to actually make one of their chances count when a cross is met with a shot from the edge of the box to put them ahead for the first time with a little over 5 minutes remaining. Royston increase their efforts in an attempt to preserve their unbeaten record but Hatfield manage to hold on and secure a 3-2 victory.

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