Saturday 26 November 2022

AFC Caddington - Caddington Sports & Social Club

AFC Caddington
Caddington Sports and Social Club
Manor Rd

01582 450151 (S&S Club)

Ground Number: 1135
Saturday 26th November 2022
AFC Caddington 2-2 MK College Academy
Spartan South Midlands D2


Caddington or AFC Caddington were established in 1973 after a period when the village didn't have a football team. They started out in the Luton & District League before joining the South Midlands League in 1986. They started out in the third-tier Division 1.  Three successive third-place finishes in their early years saw them just miss out on promotion but in 1997, they finished as runners-up to Biggleswade United. In that summer, the league merged with the Spartan League and Caddington were placed in the second-tier Senior Division. 8th place in 1998, was the best finish in the club's history. In 2000, they were relegated to the third tier, which is today's Division 2. They remained there until 2013 when they finished bottom. They started the next season, but only played a few games before pulling out. Caddington dropped down to the West Herts League and they saw mixed fortunes with them finishing as runners-up in Division 1 in 2016 to gain promotion. The following season, they finished bottom of the Premier Division but were not relegated. Two 8th-place finishes followed strangely after the second one they went down. Results during the pandemic saw them placed in the Premier Division last season, after which, they left to rejoin the SSML D2. 

Caddington is a village near Luton and the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire border. The population with a couple of other local villages is 3,700. Caddington was once the centre of a thriving brick industry built around the rich source of clay. In 1908 there were two major brickfields. A "Caddington Blue" was a well-known engineering brick.

As it was a train strike on this Saturday, my options were rather limited. Unless I stayed in London, it would be down to the coaches to get me wherever I wanted to go. My first thought was Swallownest, via a coach to Sheffield. I'd already written about their history, having had to cancel a pre-season visit there when their home ground was declared unavailable. It would have been ideal, however, the coach companies had taken advantage of the train strikes and prices had trebled or even quadrupled compared to normal fares. Next up, I looked at places in London. It would have to be step 7 or below though. I did consider Honourable Artillery Club as recommended by fellow hopper Dan the groundhopper and occasional Braintree fan. However, their venue varied and was concerned about any last-minute changes. In the end, I decided to drive to a fairly close one, settling on Yateley United after I'd seen an article about them recently in the non-league paper.
I did my research on the club on Thursday night. I had pencilled in a visit to Nailsea & Tickenham on Thursday but after seeing the weather forecast, decided on Tuesday not to go. It was a good decision, the game was called off due to a waterlogged pitch and I didn't waste any time researching the club. I also decided against going to Penydarren BGC on Friday, instead staying in to watch the England game. I've largely ignored the World Cup so far, aside from the bad behaviour of Qatar, the timing is terrible and disrupts the normal season. Had there been more choice closer to the English border, I'd have taken the plunge but I decided to save it for when I've got someone to take. At least I had the consolation of the game in Wales only having one goal but the evening had deepened my dislike for International and TV football.
I wish I'd gone after watching a mediocre performance in this illegitimate competition, but at least could look forward to my trip the next day. Or at least I thought so. Wraysbury pulled out on the day of the game, using the excuse that they couldn't raise a team. It was frustrating, but worse things happen in life. I'd woken up fairly early on the day, and was in a good mood after getting a few bits down town. The only place that let me down was Iceland with none of the ready meals for work that I wanted.  It was whilst walking back from there that I received the bad news. I was grateful that they'd let me know and that I'd not set off. I did however have to decide on a new plan and my initial thoughts were AFC Caddington to recomplete the Spartan South Midlands D2 or Old Parmiterians in the Herts Senior League. A late contender in Yateley United's B team came up, but I wasn't going to make the journey unless I knew it was being played on the main pitch. I left at 12.50 and had a good journey over, arriving at 1.40.
AFC Caddington were in red and black and sat in 13th place in the league, having won four and lost eight of their games so far this season. Their latest form had been patchy, their only win in the last seven had some as they'd won 2-1 at Risborough Rangers Development. This might have had something to do with them having had six away games in a row, but they had kept things respectable on the road. The same could not be said of their last home game, a 4-0 humbling by Old Bradwell on the 1st October. You had to go back to the 29th of August for their last home win. a 4-3 thriller against Pitstone & Ivinghoe. MK College Academy meanwhile were in all blue and were in 6th, winning six, drawing two and losing four of their games so far. They'd lost just one of their last six, that was a 2-1 defeat at Pitstone & Ivinghoe. This included a thumping 8-1 win against strugglers 61 FC Luton, although they'd drawn their latest two games - 1-1 at Codicote and 2-2 against Leighton Town Development. It was an even opening, with Caddington the more physical side. Gradually, MK College gradually took control and they took the lead on 23 minutes. A free kick was swung in from the left, the ball was knocked back and Suttable (#7) finished from six yards. There had not been too many up chances up to that point but Mason Davis curled just wide whilst looking to double his side's advantage. The visitors continued to dominate and their lead was doubled on 38 minutes. Davis got on the scoresheet, following a square ball he was pretty much unmarked as he finished from around ten yards. Caddington came back into it towards the end of the half and they forced the goalkeeper into a smart tip around his post just before halftime. They continued to boss in the second half but there were not too many clear-cut chances. The visiting keeper made another great save on 73 minutes as Caddington started to turn the screw. They finally pulled one back on 80 minutes, George McCluskey heading home following a succession of corners. There were some more chances but the hosts finally got the equaliser they deserved right at the death. Another goal from McCluskey, this time a shot from a tight angle with the shot hitting the right-hand post on the way in.
It had been a great game to watch. The official attendance (via FA Full Time) was 75, though it didn't seem as many as that. Fellow hopper 'Burnley' was there although I kept myself to myself as I wasn't in a very sociable mood. The light was fast fading as I left and I listened to the Portsmouth v Milton Keynes game on the way home, happily, Pompey won 3-2. I only had cans of Lidl cider at home, so I stopped at the Craft Beer Shop in Chalfont on the way home. I picked up three new bottles, though it did cost me £14 as it's more of a sit-in place than anything. I was back home just before 5 and still had plenty of work to do on this blog entry. I tried in vain to find coverage of the Dagenham & Redbridge v Gillingham game before dinner. In the end, I settled on the Quiz show 'The Wheel'. I had a few drinks over the evening before bed. I used to hate working Sundays due to the public, but now the day is so pitiful and pathetic in terms of enjoyment. In any case, there's a good chance I will be in the serenity of the warehouse which makes the day a breeze.

CADDINGTON SPORT & SOCIAL CLUB is a decent setup for step 7. The pitch is railed on two sides. There is no official cover, although there is an area of tables with cover nearby. The bar is smart and has a reasonable range of drinks, In the room upstairs, there are rolls as well as snacks and hot drinks. There is plenty of parking at the ground and it's a nice place to visit. It certainly has the potential to be upgraded to step six standard in the future.


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