Buzzin’ at the Hive – Basildon 1 Haringey Borough 2

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Haringey Borough, dubbed earlier this season ‘The Best Team in Non-League’ are close to clinching the title, so it was time to see what all the fuss was about.

Basildon

A girlfriend from college was from Basildon. A bit of a header, she once chased me with a bread knife after a disagreement. After walking through the almost-deserted town centre at 6pm, which has a certain deathless New Town charm straight from a JG Ballard novel – it’s interesting but almost too functional to have any personality – I found myself developing a deeper understanding of her mindset. Forgive me Catrina, come back!

Basildon FC v Haringey Borough FC
Nirvana for Bristolians and Belarussians: the tractor factory
A traipse through the town revealed more social housing than I’ve ever seen anywhere and what might be the biggest tractor factory outside Minsk, just yards away from the football ground.

United

Basildon FC v Haringey Borough FCGot more spare time than is good for me- and have spent ages wondering how the club badge evolved. It it some sort of football Rorschach test to find out just what kind of perv you are? You look at it and the badge represents precisely what you want to see.

Well I see a headless creature with a flipper for one arm and a hammer head for the other, possibly lying on its back getting ready for, er, a clinch.

As for past glories, Basildon won five successive Essex Senior League titles in the 70s, one in the early 90s and after second place in 1997/98, it’s a tale of acute mediocrity.

Fair to say the ground, opened by Jimmy Greaves and Geoff Hurst no less, in 1970 has seen better days.

It’s fairly rundown with lichen on the hardstanding round the pitch, balls kicked into the undergrowth and, if you are fiendishly mean, gaps in the fences could theoretically allow you to sneak and save yourself six quid. Take a peek over the fence and the rugby club looks like Twickenham in comparison.

Known as the Bees, the ground is The Hive and the Latin inscription on below the skull-and-crossbones bee – the club’s emblem is a piratical bee, Jim me boy! – means ‘Always striving upwards’.

Best team in non-league football?

I don’t think so, if this is anything to go by. Borough might well have an end-of-season collective cramp but it was hard to see strong evidence of this status – bestowed upon them after Christmas after they had won pretty much all their games and have still only lost three times.

Fifty three players have turned out for Basildon this season. But you wouldn’t have known it from the start as the Best Team in Non League were outplayed for all the first 20 minutes and you wondered if they had back pain from some dodgy minibus journey. And we were treated to a freak goal too.

Always like a bit of freaky-deaky at the football. Basildon number six Georgie Smith darted down the left after 35 minutes, cut in towards the box and was looking to put in a cross across the six-yard box as the angle for a shot looked too sharp. The left peg swung back to deliver, the ball bobbled up off a divot, and he lifted the ball over the keeper – apparently by accident – with his shin. Don’t think I’ve seen a shinner ever.

An absolute freak of a goal but Smith deserved any luck going as Borough were frantically back-pedalling and the goal – however weird – was absolutely just reward for an impressive display by the Basildon boys.

Basildon v Haringey Borough
Another weird sign at Basildon FC
They held on to half-time and it seemed like an upset was on the cards. Almost straight from the break, Borough equalised from a Cornel Cornea corner (great alliteration there and I didn’t have to try). Tall striker Darrell Cox barely had to rise from the ground as several defenders remained on the ground and at least three of them gave each other a ‘You should have got that’ look.

The cross blazed a trail to his forehead, he turned his neck and timed it splendidly – it fairly flew into the net.

Cox then pounced on a loose ball to slot home from near the penalty spot after 65 minutes, and you could see how Borough had roared to the top of the Essex Senior League and look likely to claim the title any time soon – they’ve got too many goals in them and keep coming at you like it’s Stalingrad.

A bit like my ex-girlfriend.

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