Becoming St Ivian, part 3: From Holywell highs to non league lows

Holywell lakesAn empty August Bank Holiday gave Zoe and me the perfect excuse to spend another Sunday afternoon discovering some local countryside. Learning our lesson from the Woodhurst walk we made sure we found a ramble to a village which had a pub, in case of emergencies.

A few days earlier we’d had some pretty torrential showers, so we didn’t want to risk one of the walks out over the flood plains. Instead we struck out east, towards Holywell. Things started badly, with the first few hundred yards being unkept and knee-deep in stinging nettles – not great for the shorts-wearing other half. But we found a way around this section and carried on regardless.

Holywell motorboat

Welcome to the jungle

The next stretch was better kept, but no less uninspiring.

We traipsed along a well wooded path with an overgrown water trench on one side and a lake we couldn’t see on the other, with the dull peace only occasionally broken by a boat pumping out crap pop jungle while dragging a water skier around in a circle.

We popped out into a pleasant meadow after a while, although it was only a short-lived break from the boring path. But thankfully a short walk later we were in Holywell – and a meander around this lovely little ring village later, we were in the pub.

Old Ferry BoatThe Old Ferry Boat Inn is a lovely looking pub that does very ordinary food and even more ordinary beer, but when it has a location as good as this and the weather is good, who cares? It was reasonably priced, warm (the food, not the beer) and politely served – that will do me.

Afterwards we wandered along the river, up to the church (pictured in the distance a few pictures below – 10p to anyone who can spot it…) and then through some gorgeous countryside, including some lovely meadows along the river  – but again, only for about 20 minutes or so. Then we hit a long, horrible and overgrown car track that went past an equally unpleasant cement works – including having to pretty much walk along a wall to get past some flooding.

Narrow boats moored outside the Old Ferry Boat

Narrow boats moored at the Old Ferry Boat

Our conclusion was that, for the most part, this isn’t a fun walk. However, the unpleasant bit is short and the place you get to is well worth getting through the boring bits to arrive at.

Next time we’ll definitely continue the walk on to next-door Needingworth and see what that village has to offer too.

When we got back to St Ives we met some friends and carried on drinking – which didn’t leave me in a great place for the following day’s football. Peterborough supporting Lee came along with his daughter and we sat/stood variously around the pitch feeling a bit sorry for ourselves.

A St Ives Town performance to match my hangover

If you squint carefully, you'll see a church!

If you squint carefully, you’ll see a church!

The night before there had been a bunch of guys in the Oliver Cromwell pub (St Ives’ finest) in fancy dress being very, very drunk – the kind of drunk that makes other drunks feel sober in comparison. After this performance, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if some of them had been on the pitch against Kettering Town that Bank Holiday afternoon.

St Ives Town had started the season unbeaten; Kettering Town had played three, lost three, scored none and conceded nine. This was only going to go one way, right? Wrong…

It’s worth mentioning the Kettering fans here. Despite a terrible start to the season, and a terrible few years in which they’d been relegated, lost their ground and their players due to financial irregularities, and almost disappeared completely, they came in good numbers. A few weeks before Chertsey had brought maybe 15 – Kettering brought hundreds, and they were behind their team from the start.

No shots of the football this time - although this field is probably about as flat as the pitch

No shots of the football this time – although this field is probably about as flat as the pitch

The Kettering side is very young, but you could see they were starting to add a bit of league nous and steel to their obvious athleticism. They harried St Ives in a way they hadn’t experienced yet this season and were a lot tougher than they looked.

St Ives had no time on the ball and as plan A went out the window it became obvious fast that there wasn’t a plan B. The Saints were 1-0 down at half time and lucky it wasn’t more – surely a half time team talk and reshuffle would turn the tide?

The second half began much as the first had – and then, amazingly, got worse. One got sent off, a second goal went in, another got sent off, they gave away a (missed) penalty – it was awful. Lee’s daughter even managed to get stung by a wasp – but at least it meant she got to go home before the end! It was a bit of a footballing lesson for St Ives and in truth they probably needed to be brought down a peg after a great start – this must’ve solidly grounded them!

But I wasn’t put off at all. Not once did I dream of a comfy seat at the Emirates watching millionaires play the game as God meant it to be played. I’ll take my football with a pint, a bit of extra fat and the occasional glimpse of brilliance, thanks very much.

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