Tuesday 18th August 2020 18.30
Rowsley 86 2 Ashbourne 5 HT: 2-2 Att: 15hc
from Rowsley Recreation Ground
Dave and I continued our pre-season induction into agricultural football, this time in Rowsley, another rural Peak District village. It’s on the south east side of the Peak, between the extremely Peaky villages of Bakewell, Youlgreave and Darley Dale. It’s difficult to say the latter without a Derbyshire accent.
Rowsley sits bang on the river Derwent and near the confluence of the Derwent and the Wye. It is home to Caudwell Mill, a Grade 2 listed water turbine powered flour mill, which you can have a look round; two-for-one if you collect mills as well as grounds. Alas, no Wetherspoons though.
It’s a scenic quiet village and the football ground lies in a very rural setting with fields and hills on all sides. More cows were in attendance than humans, taking their place behind one goal. They were not socially distancing but one assumes they had herd immunity.
The ground lies off the weirdly named Peaktor Lane, lying within a dogleg of the river Wye. It is a basic ground with no perimeter bar, but is well enclosed by trees on three sides and has great views.
Rowsley 86 play in the Central Midlands League South division, step seven, the same level as their opponents, Ashbourne, who play in the Staffs County League.
Once again it was a delightful bucolic evening for football and some light rain even created a rainbow; at the end of which appeared the Ashbourne goalkeeper rather than a pot of gold.
Once again it was a full-blooded match with no shortage of skill and effort. Ashbourne took the lead in less than two minutes, on the edge of the D, a cut in and bam-pick-that-out-of-the-net-job. Rowsley equalised with a header that crossed the line without hitting the net and then took the lead with a nice finish.
Just as the half was drawing to a close, a Rowsley mistake led to a speculative shot from distance which the keeper could only parry – 2-2. This unexpected equaliser proved pivotal for Ashbourne who dominated the second half, scoring three more goals.
Every friendly I’ve seen so far has been a great game. I’m sure in previous years friendlies have been barely watchable and not worth wasting a new ground on; played in a training ground, disinterested way. Maybe Covid-19’s rude interruption to last season has made the players desperate for some competitive action.
Both teams ran round till the finish and to paraphrase Dave’s eloquent words, they were all breathing out their arses come the final whistle. Another great advert for the lower leagues.