The monk in question was Eilmer (or Oliver or Elmer, depending on which scribe you follow). He lived in the 11th Century, possibly around the time of the Norman invasion although his exact date of birth or death is not known. Eilmer had read and believed the fable of Daedalus, you know the one, made wings for his son. It didn't end too well from memory, so that makes Eilmer's decision to emulate the flight even more incredulous. However, that is what he is said to have done. Built himself some wings and launched himself from the tower of Malmesbury Abbey. Well I drove past the Abbey and through the town of Malmesbury - which is beautiful by the way and well worth a visit even if you aren't going to a football match (thank me later Malmesbury tourist board) - and I certainly would not have thrown myself off the tower, even with home made wings. I guess there wasn't that much else to occupy a bored monk in 11th Century England? Not much is known of the flight, but it seems that Eilmer decided to fly or glide (I imagine more of a semi-controlled fall) in a Southerly direction presumably because, as we all know, South is downhill. That's a shame really because, if he had turned his gaze to the North, he would have been heading in the direction of the Flying Monk Ground, home of Malmesbury Victoria FC. Of course, he wouldn't have seen the ground from the top of the Abbey in his day (it would have been obscured by the Co-Op).
And....we are back in modern day Malmesbury. The Flying Monk Ground, as I hinted at above, is situated behind a Co-Op supermarket on the edge of town and accessed by a small service road that runs down the side of the shop. There is very little parking available at the ground (so don't make the mistake I did and drive down there in the hope of parking. It's quite hard to turn round at the bottom of the lane). There is, however, plenty of parking close by in the streets.
The ground is accessed through a single gate which brings you in at the corner behind the Co-Op end goal. All of the facilities run down this side (the town side?) of the ground. There is a, quite narrow, covered standing area running down much of this part of the ground. There is also a small, covered, seating area to the side of the goal at the Co-Op End. The dugouts are on the far side of the ground, opposite the main facilities block. There are trees directly behind the Co-Op end goal. I think I have said it before, but there is something appealing about a ground that has trees behind the goal. Maybe it's that rural feel? Whatever it is, I like it.
Park were formed on the back of the town's senior club, Chippenham Town, and have the pleasure of ground-sharing with The Bluebirds at the wonderful Hardenhuish Park, one of the finest examples of a non-league ground in my opinion.
The sides were coming into the game on opposite sides of the form spectrum. Having both played three games, Malmesbury had picked up just a solitary point, a 2-2 draw with Westbury, and had gone down 4-0 at Warminster in their last game. Park, meanwhile, were yet to lose and yet to concede a goal, after two 1-0 wins and a 0-0 draw from their first three. So, early season but already it was a crunch game for both sides. Could Park push on and go top? Could Vics get their season under way?
The opening quarter of an hour was quite scrappy, although it's fair to say that the home side were marginally the better of the two. Neither side managed to really test their opposite goalkeeper in ths time.
However, with 18 minutes on the clock, the game, and specifically Malmesbury, sprang into life. The upturn was sparked by a free-kick given right on the right-hand edge of the Park penalty area. The shot was driven in and saved well by the Chippenham stopper. The loose ball was then both cleared off the line and smacked against the inside of the post before dropping to Keiran Jones on the opposite edge of the box. His low drive evaded everyone and nestled in the corner of the net to give Malmesbury the lead. 1-0.
Just a minute later and it was 2-0. This time another effort came back off the inside of the same post and fell to Jamie Packer to score.
Malmesbury were, at this point, competely rampant. It was almost as if someone had flicked a switch and told them to start playing.
Three minutes after going two up they came very close to making it three and Park were clinging on for dear life.
Just on the half hour mark, with Vics still dominant, they produced a sparkling piece of football to set up Jamie Packer again. His superb lob over the advancing keeper was just a fraction too high but the move really deserved a goal. I make a great effort to stay neutral when watching games (unless it's Stourbridge and then I am as partisan as the next man) but I must admit I did find myself applauding this passage of play. It was a delight to watch.
Two minutes later and yet another piece of great interplay saw the ball arrive at Packer's feet again but he pulled his shot just wide when he probably should have scored.
I'm not sure how they managed it but Chippenham held out until half-time without conceding again. They deserve great credit for staying in the game when they were under immense pressure for quite a sustained period.
HT Malmesbury Victoria 2 Chippenham Park 0. Some really lovely play from the home side who deserve their lead and probably feel that they should have been out of sight by the break.
On the hour mark Jamie Packer, who seemed to be involved in just about everything, struck a great effort which was equally matched by a diving
save from the Park keeper but, apart from that, the game was played mainly in the midfield area.
It also became very stop/start as both sides conceded a number of fairly soft free-kicks. This probably suited the home side down to the ground.
At 2-0 up, they really didn't want the game to open up at all and were more than happy for Park to not have the opportunity to get a head of steam up. To be fair to Chippenham, they certainly put the effort in but didn't really ever look like getting back into the game.
With 10 minutes to go, Malmesbury made a very shrewd tactical substition, removing Number 8 who had already been booked and seemed to like a tackle. The last thing they needed was to go down to 10-men this close to their first win.
Then, with almost the last kick of the game, Malmesbury applied the icing to their cake with a third goal. Keiran Jones broke through for a one on one, the ball was slipped neatly under the advancing keeper and into the net for 3-0.
FT. Malmesbury Victoria 3 Chippenham Park 0. A thoroughly entertaining first half followed by an intriguing but not as open second half. All in all, Malmesbury deserved their victory, they were much the better side on the night.
Ground No. 131