Forget big stadiums, Premiership matches and overpaid sportsmen in designer kit, the atmosphere at Bourton-on-the-Water’s Football in the River match this August bank holiday Monday was priceless.
With more than 100 years of experience putting on a show-stopping sporting performance in the River Windrush, the skies may have remained dry – despite the weather forecasts – but an unprecedentedly huge crowd of revellers, reaching into the thousands, most certainly did not.
Spectators had flocked to Bourton from across Gloucestershire and beyond on Monday 25 August 2008, and as well as being treated to a mesmerising match in which a total of 11 goals were scored, many of the crowd members – including some of the SoGlos.com team – were also ‘treated’ to a ruddy good soaking from the sidelines.
As in previous years, the goal posts were constructed between the central bridges in the River Windrush, before the six-a-side Red and Blue teams from Bourton Rovers FC took to the water for a 30-minute match of dives, dunkings and more than a few spectacular goals to boot.
While the grey clouds overhead threatened to add to the soggy match, the spirits of the two teams of brave, and some might say eccentric, players taking to the shin-deep icy cold waters was anything but dampened.
The sounds of onlookers’ cheers and ‘are you blind referee’ jeers could be heard for miles around – with gasps of suspense when the ball bounced off the cross-bar, hearty laughter when both sides’ goal posts fell down, and shrieks when the sideline spectators were sprayed with streams of the freezing water drifting across the usually peaceful Cotswold village.
While both teams energetically strived for a winning score, as the referee blew the full-time whistle the score was 8-3 to the Reds, before the day’s events predictably turned into a giant water fight involving all the players, the referee, and even some of the unfortunate spectators.
Despite much of the front row on either side of the Windrush going home almost as wet as some of the sodden competitors, the real result of the day was an entertaining and rabble-rousing display of football – the likes of which you’d be hard-pushed to find at any Premiership stadium across the country.
Monday 25 August 2008