Codicote play at the John Clements Memorial Ground, named after John Clements, who was headmaster at Sherrardswood School in nearby Welwyn Garden City. Clements, who was born in the village, was tragically killed in a fire at a ski resort in Sappada in 1976, after he tried to rescue others from the blaze. He was subsequently awarded the George Cross.
The football ground is part of a larger sports centre situated on the edge of Codicote village, accessed via a narrow service road off Bury Lane. Payment for entrance to the ground is taken upon entry to the, good-sized, car park. There are no turnstiles or gates between the car park and the playing area. In fact, it is one of those grounds where you could watch the game from the comfort of your car if you parked in the right place.
The football pitch is bordered by the car park behind one goal and a large hedge on two other sides. The other side of the ground is completely open as it is shared with the cricket club.
As you look from the car park end, there is a covered seating stand on the right hand side and, a first for me, pop-up dugouts situated on the cricket pitch side of the ground. The clubhouse, which look sand feels quite new, is situated to the left of the football as you look from the car park. This block also houses the players and officials area.
When I returned to pitch side, just before kick-off, a number of Southall officials and supporters had arrived and, to add to the atmosphere, some members of, what I assumed was Codicote's youth team, had taken up residence behind one of the goals with two red & black flags and a drum.
And so it was, with a backdrop of jets on final approach to Luton Airport, we kicked off one a crucial game for both clubs.
Despite their lowly position, it was Codicote who started the brighter. Southall looked a little nervy and were struggling to find any consistency in their play. After a quarter of an hour it was still 0-0 but the home side were certainly looking the more likely. However, you did get the feeling that they needed to capitalise on their advantage and get a goal before Southall, inevitably, found their rhythm.
The first big chance of the game came on 21 minutes when Codicote's number 10 received the ball with his back to goal some 12 yards out and just to the left of centre. He turned very sharply, getting a yard or two on his marker, but Southall's keeper reacted well to smother the effort. Two minutes later the same Codicote striker had an even better opportunity when the ball fell to him, almost centrally, well inside the box. However, he could only fire tamely straight at the Southall stopper.
That could well have been the turning point in the game. On the half-hour mark, Southall finally fired a warning shot over the Codicote bows when their number 8 fired narrowly over with a powerful drive from outside the box.
The away side were gradually starting to get into their stride more as we approached half-time and, on 43 minutes, they came very close to taking the lead when Harewood broke down the right flank. His deflected cross looped over the keeper but clipped the bar before rebounding to safety.
HT Codicote 0 Southall 0. Codicote have been the better side for most of the half but have not made the most of their chances. Southall noticeably improved towards the end of the half.
Maybe the fresh air had woken up the Southall players too because they started the second period with a lot more intensity than they showed in the first half. So much so that, seven minutes into the half, they won a penalty. The home players and supporters thought that the award was harsh and, I have to say, from my angle it certainly looked like a soft one but the referee had a much closer view of the incident than any of us, so a penalty it was.
Aaron McLeish stepped up and confidently stroked the ball pass the keeper to make it 0-1.
Before Southall could bask in the prospect of the league title, however, Codicote went straight up the other end and had a penalty shout of their own. The incident happened on the far side of the pitch at the opposite end to where I was standing, so I can't comment on the claim. However, again, the referee was in a good spot and did not award anything.
Then, on the hour mark, Southall made the game safe and put one hand on the league trophy. Harewood was released down the right. He drove towards the by-line, cut inside his man expertly and laid the ball on a plate for McLeish to tap home his , and Southall's, second of the night. 0-2.
Codicote, to be fair to them, never gave up the game and managed to create a couple of half-decent chances themselves. However, as each chance came and went you could see the game ebbing away from them. Southall slowed the tempo of the game down whenever possible, as any good team would do at this juncture, seeing the game out with some ease in the end.
It was good to bump into Gurmail Dhaliwal just before the end of the game. Gurmail is the Southall Club Secretary and, last season, was kind enough to include one of my match reports in the Southall programme. I was pleased to be able to offer my congratulations to him and the rest of the Southall team.
FT Codicote 0 Southall 2. Southall only needed a point but they got all three to become Champions of the Spartan South Midlands Division One. Broxbourne's 2-1 defeat of London Lions means that Codicote still need to get at least a point at Baldock on Saturday to be sure of survival.
I also managed to speak to Stenny man before I left. He remembered the Arlesey game when our paths first crossed. It turns out that his mate is also a Stenhousemuir supporter. You have to love the diversity of people you meet at non-league games. Two Stenny supporters watching a Step 6 game in Hertfordshire.
Codicote (from): Andreos, Brennan, Dimmock, Dolan, Foster, Heaps, Massey, Morgan, Rice, Robinson, Thanni. Subs: Dixon, Voller, Cook
Southall (from): C. Austin, G. Austin, Bennell, Bennett, Gradwell, Harewood, Hope, Lewis, Long, McLeish, Rhone. Subs: Brown Dioum, Morgan, Sharples, Atwell
Ground Number: 156