Just over three years ago, I attended my very first ever Hadley FC match. I only heard about them when my nephew featured the team in a blog he was writing on Barnets Non League heritage in the February.
I went to a match in April and by September, I was a season ticket holder
I cannot believe it was only three years and a global pandemic ago. I've come to love the club and last night I was delighted to witness their victory in the Spartan SML League cup over Stotfold FC. The match was played in Hemel Hempstead at the ground of Leverstock Green. I've always had an interest in Non League football. I'm proud to say my Dad's business was a sponsor of Edgware town for over a decade back in the 1960's and 70's. I thoroughly enjoyed going to the Old White Lion ground to watch the team, but when they moved away, I felt the link had gone.
Like many Hadley fans, I previously would watch Barnet FC for my non league fix, but when they moved away from Underhill, like many Barnet fans, I stopped feeling that they were my team. Finding Hadley was a Godsend. I thoroughly enjoy it and have made a whole bunch of new friends at the club, as well as re-acquainting myself with a few old mates who I found had also discovered the club.
Stotfold FC, like Hadley have won promotion this season, however from the division below, to the Spartan Premier League. Based on the first half and the worldy strike from Stotfold to take the lead, you wouldn't have guessed they were a league below. They are a big team, with a very solid keeper in Liam Gooch, who I suspect from his kicking and handling skills has played Gaelic football. For me he was the Stotfield Man of The Match, making a string of excellent saves.
The game was really decided when Hadley's superstar Solomon Ofori broke through and was taken out in the first half, with Samuel Nicholls being sent off. Hadley were kicking up hill, and Stotfold defended manfully. In the second half, the class of Ofori told. He bagged a hat trick, the second of which was a simply brilliant strike.
You can watch the highlights here, thanks to The Cold End
Congratulations to @hadleyfc who won the @SpartanSMFL Gladwish 🏆 with a 3-1 win over @stotfoldfc tonight. Check out Jack Bradshaw's goal for Stotfold, 🟥 card for Sam Nicholls & 🎶 Soloman Ofori Hadley's goal machine 🎶 2nd goal was 🔥! @HadleyBricks RTs always appreciated. pic.twitter.com/zcrFExYmhF— @thecoldend (@thecoldend) May 9, 2022
It was a thumpingly good game and credit to all involved. The club facilities were excellent, if you've never watched non league football, a great advert for the league. There was a crowd of a tad under 200, excellent for a Monday night at a neutral venue.
A special shout out to Hadley's Sam Edwards, who gave his winners medal to club mascot Chelsea-Mae. What an amazing gesture. It clearly made Chelsea-Mae's day.
On our way to school and Chelsea-Mae is still refusing to take her medal off, good luck to her teachers getting that off of her 🤣 @hadleyfc making my girls dreams come true ❤️ pic.twitter.com/xdMd2ti2ey— Lou Kennedy (@ThatHadleyChick) May 10, 2022
The only sad note is that I won't see my friends at the club now until the late summer! Roll on next season. Best wished to Stotfold. I'm sure that our paths will cross again at some point. I think they are well equipped for the step up.