When I was a kid I used to love going past Stourbridge's War Memorial ground and looking at fluorescent pink and yellow posters on the noticeboard that showed which team was coming to town next. For some reason, in my head, it is always a misty November evening. The bus windows are steamed up and I have to wipe them to catch a glimpse of the exotic names. Nuneaton Borough, Wimbledon, Alvechurch, AP Leamington and, of course, VS Rugby.
Rugby Town will always be VS Rugby to me, the same as Leamington will always be AP Leamington. These names are just so much more evocative of the romance of football to me. Like AC Milan or AS Roma, they have a sense of mystery to them. Yes, I know VS stood for nothing more exotic than Valley Sports, and Automotive Products is nowhere near as mysterious as AP Leamington. However, I still yearn for those days. Maybe everything was more magical as a 8 year old, unaffected by modern life? Anyway, thanks RC Warwick. Keep up the good work.
First impressions of Butlin Road are very good. As you enter the ground through one of the three turnstiles you are faced by a smallish seating area with Rugby Town Football Club emblazoned in blue on the roof. Behind each goal there is covered terracing and just to the left of the turnstiles is a large, 500-seater cantilever stand with the letters VS picked out in white amongst the blue seats. The capacity is said to be around 6,000, although this is unconfirmed according to the website. I would certainly love to visit on a day when then stadium is full.
The two sides were coming into this match on the back of very different weekend results. Rugby had travelled to former leaders Hanwell Town and handed them a 6-1 thrashing whereas Daventry had gone down 4-0 at home to Royston Town. So, on recent form, the odds seemed to be stacked very heavily in favour of the home team. However, it was Daventry who started the stronger of the two, taking a very firm grip on midfield virtually from the off.
The game was being played at a fairly fast pace, as you would expect for a local derby. Just to add to the occasion there is the strange story of James Jepson. Not being that close to either of these clubs, I don't have the full story but I thought it might be worth looking into when I noticed the sizeable and vociferous Daventry crowd roundly booing 'JJ' every time he got the ball. My first thought was that he must be an ex-Daventry player who had defected to their rivals. That is sort of the case. However, it is slightly more intriguing than that. Last season Jepson played for another local rival of both teams, Kettering Town. In early July, Daventry reported that they had signed the 32 year-old beating off a bid from rivals Rugby Town. However, at the bottom of this article there is a footnote stating that Jepson had left the club and had, indeed, signed for Rugby. Maybe if someone from either club reads this, they could fill in the blanks?
Back to the game. Rugby threatened once of twice, mainly from long range efforts, but it was the Purple Army who looked the most likely to break the deadlock, especially when attacking down their right flank. The away side were getting crosses in far too easily for Rugby's liking and only a lack off accuracy in the finish or last ditch blocks from home defenders kept the score to 0-0 at half-time. On the evidence of the first half it was very difficult to see where the previous weekend's results had come from. Rugby looked like they would struggle to score one, let alone six, and the Daventry defence looked way too tight to have conceded four at any point. It's a funny old game.
clear foul, Rugby fans claimed it was harsh. All I know is that referee Lisa Rashid, who had a very good game in my opinion, gave the spot kick.
After some treatment to the home keeper, former Glassboy Berwick, picked himself up and fired home to put Daventry in front.
To be fair to Rugby the goal seemed to spark them into life. Certainly, in the last 30 minutes of the game, they looked far livelier than they had in the first hour. In fact, you could say that their endeavour warranted an equaliser. However, Daventry looked very secure at the back and, despite a lot of huffing and puffing from Rugby, the away keeper was never really troubled too much.
So it ended Rugby Town 0 Daventry Town 1. The Purple Army's first win in Rugby for five attempts (I am told). Daventry move up to 7th, while Rugby drop to 11th in the table. Although, both teams will have noted that Kettering scored five goals again to stay two points clear at the top.
Rugby Town - @fcrugbytown
Daventry Town - @daventrytownfc