Saturday, 21 July 2012

Two Herts - part 1

Saturday 21st July 2012
Pre-season Friendly
The North Herts Arena, Norton Road, Baldock

For the second successive Saturday I have managed to find two games to attend in one afternoon. Following my trip "up north" last week I head in the opposite direction today with 12.30pm and 3pm kick-offs. The first of these sees me travel 75 miles, firstly south on the M1 to junction 13 before heading across country along the A507. The final part of the journey sees me turn right off the A507 onto Norton Road which takes me to Baldock and the North Herts Arena.

Baldock Town were formed in 2003 as Baldock FC and played in division 1 of the North Herts League in their debut season. A fifth place finish was achieved, while the following season they secured promotion to the premier division after finishing in 3rd place. Just one season was spent in the premier division, as in 2006 Baldock became founder members of the North & Mid Herts League (NMHL). Also in the summer of 2006 the club changed their name to Baldock Town FC. The clubs spell in the NMHL was short lived as the club achieved promotion to the Herts County Senior League (HCSL). The found their new surroundings to their liking and they ended the season as division 1 champions. This was rewarded with promotion to the premier division. Another name changed occurred in 2008 as the club became known as Baldock Town Letchworth FC. The first three seasons in the HCSL saw Baldock finish in 3rd place twice and 4th once. In 2011 there was a third change of name with the club reverting back to their previous name of Baldock Town. The 2011/12 season saw the club become HCSL champions for the first time as they lost only three games in their thirty match programme.

Baldock itself is an historic market town located in the North Hertfordshire District of....surprise surprise Hertfordshire. The town is located thirty-three miles north of London and fifteen miles south east of Bedford. The county town of Hertford is around fourteen miles to the south east. 

It is believed the town was founded in the 1140's by the Knights Templar, and one theory of the origin of the name of the town is that it is a derivation from the Old French for Baghdad Baldac, which the Templars hoped to conquer during the crusades. The modern layout of the town, and many buildings are from the 16th century.

The Knights Templar
To be honest history is not one of my strongest subjects and have very little knowledge of the crusades and had never even heard of the Knights Templar. 

The following is taken from the Wikipedia page on the subject:

"The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (Latin: Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici), commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple (French: Ordre du Temple or Templiers) or simply as Templars, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders. The organization existed for nearly two centuries during the Middle Ages.
Officially endorsed by the Catholic Church around 1129, the Order became a favored charity throughout Christendom, and grew rapidly in membership and power. Templar knights, in their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, were among the most skilled fighting units of the Crusades. Non-combatant members of the Order managed a large economic infrastructure throughout Christendom, innovating financial techniques that were an early form of banking, and building fortifications across Europe and the Holy Land.
A seal of the Knights Templar

The Templars' existence was tied closely to the Crusades; when the Holy Land was lost, support for the Order faded. Rumors about the Templars' secret initiation ceremony created mistrust, and King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the Order, took advantage of the situation. In 1307, many of the Order's members in France were arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and then burned at the stake. Under pressure from King Philip, Pope Clement V disbanded the Order in 1312. The abrupt disappearance of a major part of the European infrastructure gave rise to speculation and legends, which have kept the "Templar" name alive into the modern day." 

After arriving at The North Herts Arena I was charged £1 for the admission and a further £1 for a programme, and was informed that the ground was used by the previous club that bore the Baldock Town FC name who folded in 2001. There are two sets of tip-up seating on the near side, a small stand on the far side that sits between the two dugouts and some terracing on the left hand side. The pitch is now an artificial surface and a cage surrounds the pitch, though the stand on the far side is not restricted by this. 

The game was pretty decent as pre-season games go. Linton Granta who won the Cambridgeshire County League last season settled quicker and looked threatening and creating numerous chances to boot. It took a while for the hosts to get into the game but as the half wore on created a few half chances but nothing that gave Linton much concern. The second period saw Linton come out like they started the first, and had two excellent chances. The first was a long range effort that was superbly saved by the Baldock keeper and the second was cleared off the line. Baldock posed more of a threat going forward and they scored the only goal of the game with around ten minutes remaining after a ball across the face of the goal was turned in at the far post.

Following the final whistle it was a short drive eastwards to Royston for game two of the afternoon.

Admission: £1
Programme: £1
Attendance: 31 (head count)

A slideshow of twenty photos of the ground and game can be viewed below:
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