Sunday 10 October 2021

The The Three Horseshoes - Hazlemere Recreation Ground

Hazlemere Recreation Ground
Amersham Road
High Wycombe
HP15 7QA

Ground Number: 1006
Sunday 10th October 2021
Three Horseshoes Hazlemere 2-4 Nags Head Winslow
Berks & Bucks Sunday Cup 1st Round


Hazlemere is a large village around two and a half miles from the bigger town of High Wycombe and adjacent to the smaller villages of Holmer Green and Widmer End. It has a population of just over 9,600. During the Second World War, an area of Hazlemere Park was used as a prisoner of war camp and later as accommodation for refugees before closing in 1956. Famous people from the area include comedian James Corden, Leigh-Ann Pinnock from Little Mix and aircraft engineer Geoffrey De Havilland. The village's most prominent football team is Hazlemere Sports, they play in the Hellenic D2 which sits at step 8 of the non-league pyramid following the summer reshuffle. They previously played in the Wycombe & District League until it was disbanded in 2019


Back in 1994, a notable incident occurred down my street and it preceded Peter Kay's 'The Ice Cream Man Cometh' by a full six years. Since the mid-1980s, our area had been served by a regular Ice Cream Man, a chain-smoking grubby Italian with a brusque manner called Santini. In the summer of 1994, a new rival rocked up. He was a black guy who played good music and who was popular within a few days of turning up. He used to sell in bulk for cheap and had a much cleaner van and friendlier manner with the local kids. Speaking to my mate years later, there was also a rumour that he was selling weed on the side. I have no evidence to support this, but it would kinda make sense. Like the guy in Peter Kay's show who rented out pornographic movies, it would have been a profitable extra.

The Italian must have been baffled doing his rounds, wondering if the locals were having an economy drive and buying their ice creams from the supermarket. He was soon to find out, driving up the road just as the new man was finishing off selling. As the new man headed off to the next street, he overtook him and pulled in front blocking the road. The two men exited their vans and had words with each other, I don't recall what exactly, but I distinctly remember the Italian using the words 'fucking ni**er' towards his rival. There were fisticuffs and a scuffle and the Italian ended up on the deck in the middle of a cul-de-sac on the outskirts of Hazlemere, never to be seen again. The new man continued to serve the area before disappearing in the winter a couple of years later and presumably hanging up his ice cream scoop. It's a real shame that camera phones were not around back then, as this is the sort of thing that would go viral. Back then it would have involved digging a camera out and the incident would have been over the internet before I even got halfway home.


This was a ground that I'd had on my list to do for a while. Although it was very basic, it was the home of Hazlemere Sports who play in the Hellenic League D2 and this was a league I wanted to complete. I'd actually seen a fair few games here when I saw my brother play for Holmer Green Colts against Hazlemere Sports and the local derby always had a bit of spice to it. But I didn't keep records of games attended and these results are not as easy to find as Wycombe Wanderers games. So with all of them lost in the mists of time, it's far easier to say that I'm not including games from kids matches in my records. It would also give me a chance to blog about the local area that I have lived in for 36 years, including a story about two warring Ice Cream men that I've recalled above.

I only decided that I was going to do this game last night and the original plan was to go into town for a couple of pints after. Usually, I'm working on Sunday and absolutely despise the day as it brings the worst of the public in. This Sunday too, seemed like a dead loss, with very little on aside from women and Sunday League games. By comparison, Saturdays are terrific and this one was no exception with me seeing Wycombe Wanderers beat Gillingham 2-0 in excellent company My usual 'lucky' pre-match routine worked a treat with us now winning 18 out of 21 games and unbeaten whenever I frequent the same pub, takeaway and corner shop. The evening wasn't too bad either with me watching England beat Andorra although we had to put up with ITV's lacklustre coverage. It was after this game and several drinks that I decided I was going to do a game up Hazlemere Rec in the morning. The two fixtures listed on the FA Full Time site were Hazlemere Community Association Social Club v FC Beaconsfield Reserves and Hazlemere Sports Wanderers v FC Marlow Royals and so I decided to just find out on the day which game I was watching.

I woke fairly early on the day of the game, still used to getting up for work. I had a bacon sarnie for breakfast and got dressed. Leaving at 9.50, I walked to the ground, getting there at 10.25. I went to the left-hand side of the recreation ground and saw two games on. I chose the one on the pitch that looked most enclosed and got chatting to a friendly bloke. He informed me that the match was in fact The Three Horseshoes Hazlemere v The Nags Head Winslow. The match was being played in the 1st Round of the Berks & Bucks Sunday Cup, a competition for the teams in the top divisions of the various Sunday leagues in the two counties. It was a good job I found out, as the fixture was not listed along with their league games. So far this season in the High Wycombe Sunday Combination, the hosts had beaten Naphill and Walters Ash 3-0 and drawn 3-3 at St John's. The visitors, Nags Head Winslow played in the Premier Division of the Wharfside Electrical Milton Keynes Sunday League. So far, they had beaten the Eagle Green and White 5-1, won 4-1 at MK11 and drawn 4-4 with Waterhall Stars. Both sides were doing well in their leagues at this early stage of the season.

The Three Horseshoes were in Blue & White stripes whilst the Nags Head were in red shirts and black shorts. I recognised their goalkeeper as Craig Osbourne, who I had gone to school with some 25 years ago. His side took the lead on 22 minutes when the ball was put into the roof of the net from close range. Craig made a number of decent saves but he was slightly injured in the equaliser which came on 30 minutes and was a result of a low cross being slid home. Just before halftime, the Nags Head took the lead with an excellent shot from 25 yards. The break was only seven minutes long and the second half kicked off at 11.22. A Nags Head header hit the bar on 50 minutes, but they weren't to be denied for long. They made it 3-1 on 53 minutes with a long-range shot and sealed the game on 55 minutes with a composed finish from the edge of the area to make it 4-1. The Three Horseshoes did grab a goal back with a header from a cross on 70 minutes. Both sides had a player booked and at this level, I think that means a financial penalty for the individuals which seemed quite harsh as the 'offences' were trivial at best. I did think about stopping at the pub on the way home but had family round so I just picked up some bits from Tesco before getting home at 12.40.


The Hazlemere Recreation is a very basic multi-pitch setup that is there largely for players rather than spectators. There's a reasonable amount of parking plus the streets nearby are free of restrictions. It is also on a few bus routes. There are no food and drink facilities at the ground. Nearby are two pubs - The Crown and The Three Horseshoes, a bakery that currently closes at weekends and a Tesco. There's also a parade of shops with Indian and Chinese takeaways and a butcher that does hot food. 

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