Where: “Left Pitch”, Middlesex County Football Association headquarters, Rectory Park, Ruislip Road, Northolt, Middlesex UB5 5FA
Middlesex County FA Premier Cup Quarter Final
Overview: A visit for me to a splendid, newly-opened County FA headquarters. It was a very cold night with temperatures dropping down a couple of degrees below freezing so the 3G artificial pitch meant the match would definitely go ahead.
History: Kensington Borough was the home team for this fixture. It was established as AFC Hillgate as recently as 2012 and began life in the Middlesex County League. In the summer of 2016, the team was renamed Kensington Borough FC. The club is now a member of Division One in the Combined Counties League and normally groundshare at Leatherhead FC’s Fetcham Grove ground.
Ground description: Opened in July 2018, this is part of is a very exciting football project delivered nationally called ParkLife, including community hubs. The Rectory Park development is a collaboration between Ealing Council, London Marathon Trust, The Football Foundation, The FA and Middlesex FA. The Football Foundation provided funding of £3,243,812 towards Rectory Park and the site has two adjacent floodlit 3G pitches, changing rooms, a large car park with 110 spaces, smart reception facilities, a thriving cafe, Middlesex FA offices and modern meeting rooms. Overall, there is 120 square metres of community space.
Programme details: An eight-page colour production. The contents include the Combined Counties League table, team line-ups and details of the Kensington Borough academy trial dates.
The match: This took place on what is known as “Left Pitch”, which has two covered spectator stands providing 140 seats. Harefield United dominated the cup tie from start to finish and won at a canter with goals from Clifton (10 minutes), Pacquette (31 & 49), Farhall (73 & 83) and Shaw (90+5). The “Right Pitch” was used for youth football training throughout the evening and a Middlesex FA Referees’ meeting took place in the main building. I’ll plan to go back to Rectory Park another time to groundhop a match on the “Right Pitch”, as I believe that a Middlesex County League team called Speedy United FC play there!
The people: The Middlesex FA chief executive Leigh O’Connor was very helpful with confirming details of the game beforehand. He arranged for the duty manager Bethan Drake to give me an interesting guided tour of the very impressive facilities. It was also great for me to catch up with former Queens Park Rangers striker, Richard Pacquette, who now is player-coach at Harefield United. Despite being 36 years old, he scored two goals on the night and had another disallowed. I’ve known Richard since he was a teenager coming up through the footballing ranks. He appeared for QPR in the 2003 Division Two Play-Off Final versus Cardiff City at the Millennium Stadium and has since played for a record 36 Non-League clubs!
Tony Incenzo is a reporter for talkSPORT Radio and Sky TV. You can follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyIncenzo