The Dog and Duck stadium is situated on the edge of Wellingborough, behind the Dog and Duck pub and opposite a retail park. Although, on a map, there appears to be a fair bit of parking available down the side of the access road to the stadium you have to bear in mind that, behind the ground is another stadium, home of Wellingborough Whitworth. I'm not sure if this is a frequent thing, but on this particular Saturday, both sides were playing at home with Whitworth entertaining Peterborough Sports in a UCL Division 1 game.
Upon entering the ground through the new turnstile I was immediately confronted by two very jovial characters selling raffle tickets and programmes, of which I purchased both. I didn't get the names of these two people but the club should be very proud of them. As a first time visitor they made me feel very welcome, we had a brief conversation about the club and football in general and they presented a very good impression of the club. This was enhanced further towards the end of the game when the programme seller made the effort to actually come over and thank me for visiting the club. The friendly atmosphere was further backed up by the lady in the tea hut, who was also more than willing to engage in conversation.
The ground itself is dominated by the Peter Ebdon Stand. Something I didn't know is that snooker player Peter Ebdon is President of the club. There is a also a covered terrace behind the car park end goal and a covered standing area on the pub side of the pitch. The dugouts are situated on the opposite side to the main stand, with tea bar, club house and changing facilities in the corner of the ground next to the Dog and Duck. The club, in it's current incarnation, was only formed in 2004 after the previous club, formed in 1867, folded. One other interesting point in the history of the club is the signing (briefly) in 2008 of local lad Trevor Benjamin. This fact in itself is not remarkable but the list of clubs that Benjamin has appeared for certainly is. 29 in total and I believe that he is still playing for Glossop North End in Step 6.
So, onto the match. I was expecting it to be a relatively tight game. Wellingborough had only in the last few games pulled clear of the relegation battle whilst Huntingdon, after a good start, had suffered some recent setbacks, most recently a 5-1 home drubbing by Deeping. It was also a chance to see prolific Doughboy striker Jake Newman who already had 17 league goals to his name. I was not to be disappointed.
By the time the game kicked off it had turned into a bitterly cold afternoon. I noticed, with some interest, that Huntingdon had named only one substitute. This would be a problem for them when they suffered an injury to their centre half mid way through the first half.
However, it was the away team that took the lead when a lofted ball into the area caused some confusion and was not cleared. Antonio Douglas lifted the ball over the keeper and into the net. On twenty minutes a through ball completely caught out the Huntingdon defence (something that would become a theme) allowing Newman to take the ball around the keeper and roll into an empty net. Three minutes later another simple pass through the middle and Newman was again given a free run on goal to make it 2-1 to the home team. The lead only lasted a minute before a square ball along the Doughboys 18 yard line was picked off by Chris Jones and expertly lofted over the keeper for an equaliser. It had been a breathless few minutes with 3 goals in 4 minutes and both sides seemed to try to consolidate their position for a while and Huntingdon were forced to use their only substitute. Then, with just a couple of minutes to go before half-time, Huntingdon tried to play an offside trap but Newman was too sharp for them and raced onto the through ball to make it 3-2. All three home goals were very similar in make-up, a through ball, disorganised defending and a Newman finish.
At half-time I heard that, on the other side of the fence, Whitworth were both a goal and a player down to Peterborough Sports which was the way the game ended as well.
Back to the action at the Dog and Duck. For the second half I decided to take a position in the covered terrace behind the Huntingdon goal. As it turned out, this was a decent decision as the home side were to rattle in another four goals before the end. Having said that, the second half was relatively incident free for the first 20 minutes or so. However, on 70 minutes a nice move through the middle saw a perfectly timed pass for the onrushing Scott Liebscher to slide the ball under the keeper to make it 4-2. Seven minutes later and Jon Mitchell, who had supplied the pass for Liebscher, added the fifth himself after a quick counter-attack. That appeared to be game over but Huntingdon did not collapse (just yet) and after 83 minutes Ben Colmer made it 5-3. Was that a consolation or the start of a major comeback? That question was finally answered on the stroke of 90 minutes when Newman bulldozed his way through the Huntingdon defence to score his fourth and the Doughboys sixth. To make matter worse for Huntingdon, Newman snatched another deep into injury time to make the final score Wellingborough Town 7 Huntingdon Town 3.
As I tweeted at half-time, this was not a technical footballing master-class in fact, at times, the defending was absolutely diabolical. However, once again, a United Counties match had provided entertainment, excitement, goals galore and superb value for money. If you haven't sampled a UCL match (either Premier or Division 1) get out there and watch one. I am sure that you won't be disappointed. A special mention for the people of Wellingborough Town. This is one of the friendliest clubs I have visited. Well worth a visit to what is an iconic stadium at this level.
Wellingborough Town - @the_doughboys
Huntingdon Town - @htfc1995