Harrow Hill FC
Ground Number: 953
Wednesday 5th May 2021
Harrow Hill 3-0 Whitecroft
Reg Davis Memorial Cup - Group A
Wednesday 5th May 2021
Harrow Hill 3-0 Whitecroft
Reg Davis Memorial Cup - Group A
HARROW HILL - A BRIEF HISTORY
The club was established in 1932 and played in local leagues prior to joining the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League in 1953. They were runners-up in their debut season and also in 1959 & 1960. They would go on to win the league for the first time in 1963-64 and then again the following year as well as in 1971-72 and 1981-82. Following the latest win, Harrow Hill made the step up to the Gloucestershire County League. For 12 seasons, they were pretty much a mid-table team - the highest finish 5th (1986-87) and the lowest 13th (1991-92) in what was a 17 or 18 team league. In 1994-95, they finished runners-up behind Henbury Old Boys and were invited to join the Hellenic League. A 5th place finish in Division 1 was a credible start and in 1996-97 they finished 3rd behind Ardley United and Hallen, earning promotion to the Premier Division in the process. The club struggled with the step up and a 16th place finish in their debut season of 1997-98 was as good as it got, though it was the best finish in the club's history. They lasted until 2002 when they were relegated to Division 1 West but they bounced back with a runners-up spot behind Winterbourne United in 2005/06. Again, they struggled, this time lasting for three seasons before being relegated again in 2009. They'd only last until November of that season due to financial issues and would see their record in Hellenic D1 West expunged. Instead, they took their reserve team's place in the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Division 2. The following season, 2010/11, Harrow Hill finished as runners-up behind Frampton and won promotion to Division 1. They remain there to this day, the best finish being 4th in 2013 and the worst 11th in 2017. When the season was curtailed after 9 games earlier this year, they were sitting 9th and seem like a club that are happy to be where they are, despite their superior facilities and history.
Harrow Hill participated in the FA Cup for four seasons between 2006 and 2009. They won just one game - beating Alresford Town in 2008 before going on to lose 2-1 to Chalfont St Peter in the Preliminary Round. The FA Vase was competed in regularly from 1985 until 2009 but the best progress the club made was the 1st Round on three occasions. In terms of local cups, the Gloucestershire Challenge Trophy in 2005 and the Gloucestershire Senior Amateur Challenge Cup (North) in 2011 are amongst their honours. The club drew crowds of 500-600 for local county cups in the 1960s and also an attendance of 350 for a game against Cinderford Town in 1992. However, the highest verified crowd came on Sunday 27th August 2006 when the Hellenic League Groundhop came to town and 268 saw Harrow Hill lose 1-0 to Slimbridge. The village of Harrow Hill is contiguous with the larger village of Drybrook which has a population of just over 3,000. Harrow Hill was known as Harry Hill for the earlier part of its history and the comedian of the same name wore a club badge on his show 'TV Burp' in 2008. Drybrook is home to a mechanical keyboard museum and was also a royal hunting ground. Facilities once included a railway station. Nowadays, there are still a decent range of facilities on offer including a fish and chip shop and a Co-Op convenience store. The nearest larger town is Cinderford, whilst it is around half an hours drive from the city of Gloucester.
I was keen to continue my midweek groundhopping, but was probably going to stick to just the one day as all the options were a fair old distance. I put the options to our groundhopping group on Whatsapp which included games in Leicestershire on Tuesday and Gloucestershire on Wednesday. My pals indicated a preference towards Wednesday and the standout candidate was Harrow Hill. After all the hassle that the late cancellation of our game on Saturday, I had a backup in place at Lydbrook Athletic, plus there were other options at lesser grounds. I was glad to be finally getting Harrow Hill ticked off as it was a ground that I'd wanted to visit for some while. I was also hoping to go to Cotgrave v Keyworth United on Friday. I agreed to take fellow hopper Chris who lives in Milton Keynes, but less than 20 minutes later, he decided against it. He was concerned that there was no backup, what with what happened on Saturday and I don't really blame him to be honest. In any case, it might be for the best as I'm hoping to try for 200 games next season and will need all the help I can get to achieve that. Monday was a bit of a day from hell, work-wise. It had totally slipped my mind that it was a Bank Holiday as I'd made no football plans. It would have been a waste of time anyway. The store was jam-packed, with all the usual dregs of society that come out on weekends and bank holidays. Together with their vile offspring, who were screaming the place down and creating chaos, it was a very uncomfortable place to be. It was ludicrous that non-essential shops opened two months ahead of indoor pubs and football grounds, given that the latter's patrons had far more respect for their surroundings. I only discovered when I scrolled through social media and saw that the FA Vase Final, amongst other games, was on. It was confirmed when I left work and it was the usual rancid weather that you get on public holidays. The day off on Tuesday was most welcome and I walked to town and back. It was a decent bit of exercise but it was disappointing not to have a game to go to until the following day.
I'd done my research on the recent form the day before, thanks to the league's excellent and informative website. It was mighty impressive for a league that operated at steps 8 and 9 of the Non-League pyramid. The day of the game came and I was at work as usual. Thankfully, they were pretty flexible and so I could stay at work until it was time to leave for the game. It wasn't a bad day overall, but there were a few unpleasant members of the public who thought that it was fine to wear their masks on their chin. I pointedly ignored one such customer when they asked for assistance. After I had lunch, I met George at 2.50 and left Wycombe in blazing sunshine. By the time we had got to Anwar's at 3.30, we had encountered torrential hail and the weather was still miserable. There was the usual delays in Oxford thanks to their woefully inadequate road system and it was pretty much country roads for the rest of the way there. Not much fun when you are stuck behind a slow lorry and so it took nearly three and a half hours to do the 100-mile journey. The last part of the journey was really scenic and the roads around the ground were tiny. We got there at 6.10 and I typed some of my blog on my phone and got some pictures of the ground as we waited for kick-off.
Both sides were doing pretty well in this post lockdown competition. It was named in honour of Reg Davis, a former official of the league. It has been played since 2004/05 and this season has seen an extended format compared to usual. Neither side had much of a chance of catching runaway leaders Lydney Town Reserves, but the hosts were in second. They'd won 4, drawn 1 and lost 3 of their 8 games so far. Their last 4 results were typical of their form with wins over Woolaston (2-1) and Lydbrook Athletic (4-2). On the flip side, they suffered defeats to Lydney Town Reserves (3-4) and Staunton & Corse (1-2). Visitors Whitecroft were in 6th and despite a good start, their recent form had been poor. In their last four games, they'd drawn with Woolaston (1-1) and suffered defeats to Lydney Town Reserves (2-3), English Bicknor (1-2) and Broadwell Amateurs Reserves (0-1). The two sides had met back on 10th April when Whitecroft recorded a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture. The visitors started brightly and had a succession of corners, but they didn't come to anything. Harrow Hill soon got into the game and they took the lead on 8 minutes with a beautiful curling shot by Matt Jackson which I managed to get on film. A couple of minutes later, it was 2-0, a low drive from outside the area which found the back of the net thanks to Jamie Addis. Harrow Hill continued to boss the game and they forced a great save and then a clearance off the line on 28 minutes, then another save to avoid a repeat of the first goal four minutes later. The game settled down after that and it wasn't until 55 minutes that the hosts extended their lead. A home player was tripped in the area and Addis stepped up to cooly convert the penalty to put the game to bed. There were a couple of chances apiece after that, but no more goals.
There had been 42 in attendance at the game on a pleasant evening. We'd chatted to a few friendly people including a set of lads who played for some of the local youth teams such as Harrow Hill and Cinderford Town. We left at 8.15 and made our way to a takeaway in Gloucester called Muchachos. It was a place we'd been to a few times before and was decent as ever. We'd spent half an hour here, waiting and eating and by the time we left, it was 9.10. We listened to the football on the way home as Chelsea recorded a comprehensive victory over Real Madrid. The traffic involved a lot of country roads but at least the traffic was much better. I'd had issues with wildlife a few years back so was on high alert for foxes on some of the more rural roads. A couple did jaywalk, but happily, I had my full beams on and a crisis was averted. I dropped Anwar off at 10.40, George off at 11.05 and got in myself at 11.20. It had been a great day and I spent half an hour relaxing before going to bed.
Larksfield Road is a beautiful venue in the heart of the countryside. It is set into a natural bowl which makes for a distinctive venue. There are two areas of cover, a small seated stand on the far side and some cover on the near side which has a decent bar. The view from the bank is superb and the views all around the ground are stunning. The bar itself has a wide range of drinks and also does snacks as well. Overall, a ground that any hopper should aim to visit. Nearby is a Co-Op store and a chip shop amongst other things. It's one to do by car unless you have plenty of time and there's enough parking for most games.