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Published: April 18th 2019
Across the pond, the re-emergence of a Tiger was taking shape on the green carpets of Augusta. In a corner of Worcestershire, another group of Tigers were battling to continue their status in the National League South. The pitch wasn't quite the green carpet on the TV golf and although the wind was equally as troublesome, they were making a decent effort of taking the game to their higher ranked visitors. Gloucester City AFC are in exile. They have been in exile since 2007. The great floods that hit the West Country left their ground under 8 feet of water. In the 12 years since, they have camped up in Nailsea (at the home of Forest Green Rovers), Cirencester, Cheltenham and now find themselves across the border in Worcestershire.The much anticipated homecoming is nearly upon them. The years of nomadic existence are coming to end. We will return to the football later.
We started the day in leafy Warwickshire. Coughton Court lies off the main road just north of Alcester. It is one of the many Tudor mansions that litter the English countryside, but this one has more of a chequered past than most. We pulled on to the driveway
before the 11 o'clock opening. The house visits are timed and therefore I was keen to get an early slot. We were not alone in our thinking, judging by the number of cars in the car park. The entry formalities sorted and early tickets secured, we had a brief wander round teh immediate grounds. Coughton Court is said to have a look of Hampton Court, but you will need a good imagination. The estate is the family seat of the Throckmortons, who have been in residence since the early 1400s. The property is now owned by the National Trust, but the family still live in one of the wings. The family were well in with King Henry VIII apparently, but potentially life got a lot more difficult when they sided with Catherine of Aragon, when Henry decided he needed to move on to wife number two. The family were practising Catholics and disagreed with Henry getting divorced and dispensing with the old faith in favour of the Church of England. The family then got themselves involved with a plot to overthrow Elizabeth I in 1583. The plan was to install Mary, Queen of Scots, in place of Elizabeth. She had
been under house arrest in England since 1568 and was to be made Queen following an invasion by a Spanish backed force and a revolt by the English Catholic nobility. The plan failed and Francis Throckmorton lost his head. The next phase in Coughton Court's history was its place in the Gunpowder Plot. Whilst the family were not directly involved, the house being rented out at the time was used as a safe house by the key players. After Guy Fawkes failed to light his fuse, some of the group rode north to Coughton Court. Today, Coughton is a fairly non-descript, but well preserved example of the Tudor architecture. The walled gardens and the lake gave the grounds a tranquil setting. As ever in National Trust world, the coffee shop was gratefully taking the grey pound.
It was about a 20 minute drive to Evesham. Traffic was light until the bypass. Fortunately, most were heading elsewhere other than the town centre. We parked up in the residential streets on the far side of the River Avon. The shops and businesses in this area were all of Eastern European descent. There was a bitter wind blowing in, but a small
group of shaven headed men were happily drinking strong lager from their cans on the street corner. The most striking sight in Evesham was visible, as we crossed over the river into town. Evesham Abbey was one of the largest in the country before King Henry decided otherwise and now the only bit remaining is the Lichfield Bell Tower. It stands on the ridge overlooking a park down to the edge of the river. The site of the old Abbey is left empty behind it. A group sat under the War Memorial at the top of the park in a bid to keep out of the wind. A plaque nearby marked the Battle of Evesham in 1265, where an army under Prince Edward defeated Simon de Montfort in this bend of the river. We wandered past the Bell Tower and had a look inside the St Lawrence Church, which sits directly behind it. The town centre looked a bit down at heel, but is scattered with impressive timbered buildings. It seemed NatWest were happy with their surroundings in the 15th century Roundhouse and were keeping this branch open.
Time was marching on and we relocated to the grandly named
Jubilee Stadium - home of Evesham United and current hosts of the homeless Glucester City. A fair number of visiting Billericay Town fans had made the trip despite their recent dismal run of form. They were probably encouraged by the fast train line from London, which makes Evesham very accessible to London. The 120 miles can be covered in about 1 hour 45 munites on the regular services, which makes the journey to relatively close Birmingham at 90 minutes seem very slow. Gloucester City fans were obviously used to their tip for "home" games and rocked up into the extensive car park with minutes to spare before kick off. Billericay were taking advantage for the clubhouse and bar. It was a classic game of 2 halves. Gloucester City would rue the missed chances in the 1st half, as a different Billericay turned up in the 2nd half and smashed in 4 goals. The result left the Gloucester fans unsure what league they would be watching in their new home next season.
The exit from the car park was a lot more straight forward than it looked and within 20 minutes I was at my sister's house. She lives on
the outskirts of the spa town of horses. I had been planning a visit, as most recent encounters have only been at funerals. We walked round the corner the following day to see 1980s pop people Hue and Cry, who were playing in the village hall. The Kane brothers still had a voice 30 years on, although one nearly lost his head giving it a good crack on a beam in the Tithe Barn on his way to the stage. He was still distracted Looking For Linda. Vanarama National League (South) Gloucester City AFC 1 Billericay Town FC 4 Date :
Saturday 13th April 2019 @ 1500 Hours Venue :
The Spiers & Hartwell Jubilee Stadium, Cheltenham Road, Evesham. Worcestershire. WR11 2LZ Attendance
: 392 Scorers
: 1-0 Noel-Williams (Gloucester City) 17 Mins, 1-1 Wassmer (Billericay Town) 60 Mins, 1-2 Emmanuel (Billericay Town) 65 Mins, 1-3 Emmanuel (Billericay Town) 83 Mins, 1-4 Emmanuel (Billericay Town) 94 Mins Pen, Gloucester City
: Mawford, Smerdon, Hamilton, Avery, Hanks (Peck 90 Mins), Thomas (Kotwica 70 Mins), Knowles, Jackson (Parker 79 Mins), Noel-Williams, Robert, King Billericay Town
: Smith, Kizzi, Efete, Wassmer, Kpakawa, Deering
(Waldren 84 Mins), Emmanuel, Howells, Robinson (Lafayette 89 Mins), Coombes (Cunnington 79 Mins), Paxman
Tot: 1.29s; Tpl: 0.058s; cc: 14; qc: 35; dbt: 0.0196s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb