Other than the fact that they were re-established in 1992 (having evidently existed in some previous incarnation before then), there was very little historical information about Farcet United that I could find online. In recent years, at least, the club has spent its time in Divisions 2 and 3 of the Peterborough & District League, winning the Division 2 Intermediate Shield in the 2016/17 season. Though the 2019/20 season was null-and-voided because of the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, the club were elevated to Division 2 for the 2020/21 season having been 3rd in Division 3 when football was halted.
With non-league football finally returning after almost six months away at the end of August, it was only a matter of time until I'd be back groundhopping again. However, now that I've graduated from University and am back home permanently, my options are much more limited than they were last season (I'll be happy with at least 10 new ticks this season). This is exacerbated by the fact that I cannot drive yet and hence can't get around on my own, meaning that I have to ask for a lift for anywhere I do want to go. Granted, I'm still not fully comfortable travelling around too much yet, but I don't want to be unable to drive for too much longer so am well into the job hunt to start getting money in to be able to afford driving lessons and then work from there.
In the meantime, I was assessing local options as Yaxley continued to intensify our pre-season preparations ahead of our competitive start next Saturday. After attending Tuesday night's pre-season friendly, though, I felt more in the mood for competitive football yesterday without having to travel far at all. Thankfully, there are several options within the village in the form of FC Hampton, Cardea (playing on the grass pitch next to Yaxley's ground) and Farcet United (who play at the village rec).
I wasn't aware of FC Hampton playing in the village until after I got back from the match yesterday, so I was only aware of both Cardea and Farcet being at home. Ultimately, I opted for Farcet due to Yaxley being at home on the main pitch at the same time as Cardea's home game on the adjacent grass pitch there. With reports that Chelmsford were planning to bring 200 fans up for the friendly against Yaxley, I figured it would be rather busy in the area even if only a few people were watching Cardea and instead opted to head to the rec to watch Farcet.
For a 2pm kick-off, I left the house at 1:30pm and arrived ten minutes later to find that the match was being played on the pitch adjacent to the park, rather than the pitch adjacent to the primary school. I took my standing position next to the pitch and flicked through social media while waiting for kick-off after taking a few photos of the pitch.
I didn't do much research on the teams prior to the match and there's no point posting league tables for a while yet, but I did know that Farcet had been elevated from Division 3 this season, while Peterborough Polonia had requested demotion from the Premier Division to Division 2 a few weeks ago for reasons unknown. Also, this was my first foray into the 13th tier (I'd previously gone as low as the 12th when I visited Wymondham Town, but never low before this), so I had no idea what to expect in terms of quality, even more so for the first match of the season when teams would likely still be shaking off some of that pre-season rust.
Here's my report on an entertaining match which Farcet can feel unlucky to have gotten nothing out of despite having a three-goal deficit for much of the match:
This first competitive match of the season saw Farcet start on the front foot and earn themselves a penalty in the 4th minute, but the number 5's spot kick was tame and easily saved by the Polonia keeper before being cleared by a defender. From that clearance, Polonia broke quickly and took the lead, a shot from their number 11 taking a deflection off a Farcet defender to wrong-foot the keeper. Farcet had a chance to equalise 4 minutes later when former Yaxley left back Josh Pike picked the ball up on the left of the box, rounded the keeper and got a shot away, only for the keeper to reflexively and impressively block the effort with a stretched leg. In the 13th minute, it was Polonia's turn to break forward when their number 2 had space to run down the right wing and slice a shot narrowly wide.
Two minutes later, though, Polonia doubled their lead when their number 9 received the ball unmarked in the box. His first shot was well blocked by a Farcet defender, but the ball came back to him for an easy finish past the keeper. Seven minutes later, Polonia were rewarded a free kick from 25 yards out and their number 6 curled it low around the wall and into the bottom left corner, just narrowly beyond the keeper's reach. Despite Polonia having a resounding lead at this point, the difference between the teams didn't seem as wide as the scoreline suggested as the match was very much an end-to-end affair. If anything, Farcet were having more of the ball and creating more chances on the whole, but with little luck when it mattered. By contrast, Polonia were only infrequently breaking forwards, but they made it count almost every time. This difference became clear when Farcet somehow failed to pull a goal back in the 27th minute: they had multiple attacking players in and around Polonia's box, but they seemed reluctant to shoot and kept passing it around on the edge of the box. When someone eventually got a shot away, it was blocked and eventually cleared after an initial defensive mix-up that was not pounced on. At the other end, Polonia's next chance came on the half-hour mark when their number 7 shot low from distance and beat the keeper at his far post (just like the earlier free-kick).
Farcet still hadn't given up, though, and pulled one back in style in the 36th minute: number 10 instinctively flicked the ball over his head as it came to him from behind, rushed past the defender into the box and effortlessly chipped over the rushing keeper's head. It was then 2-4 four minutes later as a Farcet free kick was headed away as far as their number 6 in centre midfielder. He played a pass to the 10 on the right wing, before he crossed low into the box for Pike to tap in. There was still one more goal to come in an action-packed first half, though, as Polonia restored their three-goal cushion in the 43rd minute: someone on the left wing floated a deep cross into the box and over the Farcet keeper's head as he attempted to catch it, with Polonia's number 7 standing behind him to head into the empty net.
2-5 at half-time.
After an end-to-end second half, the second half saw a drop in intensity and fewer chances for both sides. The big difference was that Farcet came out much stronger and started to take control of the match, while Polonia struggled to find any cohesion in their attacks. Farcet had their first chance of the half in the 50th minute as their number 10 dribbled into the box from the left and shot low across goal to force a save and earn his side a corner. Four minutes later, Farcet's number 9 should have reduced his side's deficit when the Polonia keeper failed to catch a cross, but his header on the empty goal was weak and gave the keeper time to correct himself and make the save. Then, after 20 minutes of probing without success, Pike scored his second of the afternoon to make it 3-5 in the 76th minute: Polonia's 9 had a chance blocked by the keeper and quickly kicked upfield, with Pike breaking beyond the defensive line and poking past the keeper to score from the edge of the box.
Eleven minutes later, Farcet had a goal disallowed for offside: their number 10 volleyed after a cross-field ball from Pike and it was heading goalward, only to bounce into the net off the number 6 from an offside position. Undeterred, Farcet pulled another one back in the third minute of stoppage time, bundling in from a set piece after the keeper pushed an aerial ball into the path of an unmarked Farcet player. Then, with one last roll of the dice, Farcet went on the attack from a 95th minute throw-in, their number 10 punting a hopeful ball into the box that Pike got on the end of and narrowly poked over the bar. That was the last kick of the game and enough for Polonia to hold on for a 4-5 victory.
So an excellent return to competitive football and an excellent match for this blog to come back for. Though Farcet lost this crazy match, they could have very easily gotten all three points out of it on a different today and against a goalkeeper not putting in the performance of a lifetime.
There were a couple of extended stoppages in the second half as tempers flared at times, leading to just over 5 minutes added on at the end. This meant the match didn't finish until around 3:50pm, but when it's only just over ten minutes back to the house that doesn't overly matter much.
Regarding future groundhopping plans, it's still a little up in the air. Besides Cardea and FC Hampton in the village (do second pitches on the same ground complex count as new grounds, or would it be cheating to count that for Cardea?), I've drawn up a shortlist of other relatively local options I'd be comfortable visiting at the moment, but much depends on the Yaxley fixtures and what is happening with away games this season, i.e. if away travel is still happening or not (I assume not, but I've yet to receive any confirmation one way or the other). Regardless, I'm eyeing a visit to Whittlesey on the 10th of October in the FA Vase, but hoping I can get something else in before that.
Middletons Road Recreation Ground is a typical village rec set up, comprised of a couple of pitches with no football furniture besides the changing rooms. This match was played on the upper pitch next to the park, rather than the lower, sloped pitch across from the primary school.