Copsewood's Allard Way ground is part of a fairly large sports complex that also hosts many other activities,
including cricket and bowls. The playing surface is open on the car park side of the ground because it is shared with the cricket pitch. On the opposite side is a small covered seating area and behind the bowls club end is another small covered shelter. What Copeswood does have is a large two-storey club house, the frontage of which put me in mind of Sunshine Desserts. Bearing in mind that the original building used in the Reggie Perrin series was recently demolished, if a remake is ever made I suggest Copsewood as the set.
Copsewood have played unde a number of names since their formation in 1922 as Peel Connor FC. Other names include Magnet FC, GEC (Cov) FC, GPT (Coventry) FC and Marconi (Coventry) FC, all of which were names of the company that owned the land. Finally, when Marconi sold the land, they became Copsewood in 2005.
So, onto the game itself. As I said, Highgate needed just a point to clinch the title, regardless of events at Atherstone where second placed Bromsgrove were the visitors.
The game started at a pretty high tempo with both sides looking up for the challenge. It was obvious from early on that Copsewood were not here to roll over and applaud the champions. In fact, for the first 15 minutes they probbaly shaded the encounter. Even though they rarely threatened the Highgate goal, they were sharp in their tackling and were knocking the ball about with some confidence. However, 15 minutes into the game, Highgate were awarded a free-kick around 25 yards out in a fairly central position. The kick was initially blocked by the defensive wall but fell kindly to a Highgate player who took a touch and then unleashed a powerfull drive into the far corner. 1-0 to Highgate, slightly against the run of play.
Despite going behind, the home side continued to play some decent stuff and, as the half went on, started to look the more dangerous of the two teams.
As one or two decisions went against the home team the banter from some home supporters, especially directed at the assistant closest to them, was getting more vocal by the minute. To his credit, with the exception of one particular glare, the assitant took it quite well. Probably more than used to it. You wouldn't become a non-league official unless you had a thick skin. One comment in particular though did make me smile. After not giving a number of possible offsides, the assistant finally got his flag up and waved for one quite enthusiastically. As Coventry is quite close to Birmingham Airport, there happened to be a plane overhead at that moment. One wag quipped, 'Now look what you have done. Are you directing the planes in to land?'. Even the assistant had to have a sly smile to that one.
A quick cup of tea at Sunshine Desserts and then back out into what was becoming a bitterly cold evening as the wind got up, ready for the second half. News had come through that Bromsgrove Sporting were 1-0 down at Atherstone but it was no time for Highgate to let up. There was a job to be done. That job was to guarantee the title by winning here. They set about the task in the second half with a renewed vigour and quickly took the incentive from Copsewood. There appeared to be more confidence in the Highgate side in the second half. They knew that the title was there for the taking and they were not going to let it slip. Despite this, they were finding it difficult to get the second goal. There was plenty of possession, but good defending and some stray final balls were letting them down.
We were past halfway in the second half before they finally scored the goal which sealed the victory and it was worth the wait. A slick move down their right flank culminated in a driven, low cross which was met perfectly by an on-rushing Highgate player and struck accurately into the bottom corner of the net.
With the game in the bag and Bromsgrove still 1 down, the championship was as good as won. Nine minutes later, it was completely over when the third goal was fired in. Then with just a minute or two left, Highgate made it 4 on the night and 113 for the season.
The only black spot on the day was a late second yellow for the Highgate number 7 in the last minute. Poor refereeing in my view. Yes, it was probably a yellow card offence. Yes, he had been booked before. However, it was the last minute of the match. They were 4-0 up and about to be crowned champions, surely soem common sense could have prevailed?
As it happened, Bromsgrove did score twice in injury time to win 2-1, but it was to no avail. Highate had won the title in a comprehensive fashion. A 4-0 away win, in any league, has to go down as a good victory.
The championship shield was presented to the Highgate team immediately after the game amidst celebrations from players, staff and the travelling supporters.
Congratulations to all concerned at Highgate United. Worthy champions by all accounts.
Coventry Copsewood - @copsesfc
Highgate United - @highgateunited