Wednesday 9th June 2021 19.00
Westmorland County Junior Cup Final
Greystoke 2 Kendal United Reserves 1 HT: 0-0 Att: c150 Ent: £3 (inc programme)
og 65, Peile 90 : 55
from Vale of Lune Rugby Club (Powder House Lane)
This game was from the back end of last season.
My groundhopping partner Dave should win the Investigative Groundhopper of the Year Award for finding this fixture. Even the most diligent full bearded hoppers on the Non league Matters forum had not found it. We were all set to go to Yorkshire and Lower Hopton (boasting a small stand), when Dave sniffed out this rare truffle on Facebook around 4pm. He couldn’t have timed it better, as Lower Hopton was a 18.30 ko and we would be pushing it for time. Vale of Lune was a similar distance but with a 7pm ko, giving us leeway, and a very high hen’s tooth tariff. This was the Westmorland Junior Cup Final between Westmorland League sides Greystoke and Kendal United Reserves, played at the rugby ground of Vale of Lune. (We did have to double check the Junior didn’t mean kids, as that could have been embarrassing.)
This would be my third rugby ground in five games. It belonged to Vale of Lune who play Rugby Union in step six of the pyramid in Division North 1 (West), having been relegated from the Northern Premier last season. They were two steps higher than Buxton, whose ground I was at last week. A Google search beforehand showed an old stand along the side, affording a glimpse of what looked like a ground with character. Unfortunately that stand is no longer there, having been replaced by a very large clubhouse. The good news is that a modern and unique looking stand sat opposite, high up and nestled into the trees behind it.
Both teams in this final were from Cumbria, Kendal being the biggest town in the Lake District and Greystoke being a little village near Penrith and birthplace of Tarzan of the Jungle. The ground and hence the Vale of Lune itself is situated between Lancaster and Morecambe.
There was ample parking as you come into the complex with the huge new changing room building in front, where there was once the old stand. To the right of the car park is the clubhouse, which was doing a good trade tonight. Entry was £3 which, to my delight and surprise, came with a programme.
Considering the obscurity of the Westmorland League there was a healthy crowd of at least 150. Opposite the changing rooms was a very long terrace spanning the other side and continuing beyond the rugby posts to include the areas where the rugby players slide and touchdown the ball, or whatever they call it. WSC dull sports No 1.
The new stand sat halfway along looked to me like a rollercoaster carriage. It was unique in terms of stand design (of the ones I’ve seen) and was certainly a nice change from the drag and drop Arena stands you often find clubs plumping for.
The new facility opposite, comprising the changing rooms, reminded me of a ship with it’s brilliant white hull, wooden decking and small holes.
The game was a bit edgy in the first half, watchable but with a bouquet of 0-0 about it. The second half sprang to life in the 55th minute when Kendal, who had been the better team in the first half, took the lead. This seem to Greystoke the fires of the team in red who upped their tempo. A metaphorical cry of Aaahh-uuuahhhh-aaaah (Tarzan).
It only took them 10 minutes to level when their keeper was rounded and the ball played towrdas goal was turned in by a defender. At 1-1 the game was now played with more urgency, although penalties looked like a likely outcome. But 2 minutes into added on time, a corner was struck fiercely at head height where Peile connected and the ball flew in off the head of a hapless defender into the top of the net. The Greystoke fans went berserk and the ref blew for full time after the restart.
There followed an almighty melée in the rollercoaster style stand and opposing fans (I assume) fought each other like the Battle of Helm’s Deep. Re-inforcements were sprinting along the terrace and across the pitch to either join in or break it up. Owing to the length of the fracas, I’d say the former. It was an unfortunate end to the game off the pitch, taking something away from the dramatic ending and Greystoke’s lifting of the Westmorland Cup.
The last gaps goal meant Dave and I could get a headstart on the trip home rather than wait for penalties, which was a bonus. This was a real find of a match, the last of the season and in terms of quirkyness, probably the best.