The fates have conspired this season to turn Hampstead and Enfield into competitors in a sort of miniature league of their own. Five times have they met since last August, and now that there seems no reasonable chance of a further encounter it is appropriate to sum up the records of these persistent rivals. The honours are with Hampstead, who have won three of the five matches, and whose victory in the fifth duel on Saturday, in the Middlesex Senior Cup, was as decisive as it was deserved. Undoubtedly they held a great advantage in being at home for the occasion, although the conditions at Claremont-road made it extremely difficult for both sides to calculate their chances with any degree of accuracy. The ground was hidden under a thick covering of hardened snow, and the glare of the white mantle, aided by a heavy mist which encircled the pitch, made the light treacherous. Owing chiefly to the uncertainty prevailing earlier in the afternoon as to whether or not the fixture would be played, the attendance was considerably below normal, but in the circumstances the good sprinkling of spectators who turned out spoke well for the importance of the attraction. None had cause to regret the venture so far as the merits of the fare provided were concerned, and those who support the local club had the added consolation of seeing their heroes win by the substantial margin of four goals to two.
For the most part of the game Enfield were handicapped by the absence of one of their players. They started with only ten, and soon after the ranks had been completed by a belated arrival, they lost their centre-forward through the recurrence of an old injury.
This deficiency in numbers was given a more serious aspect on account of the enterprising mood in which the Hampstead team were found, and no amount of tactical manoeuvring could overcome it. It was a day on which the players either had to run about or freeze, and the home eleven were evidently determined at all costs not to catch a cold.
The wisdom of this policy was demonstrated five minutes from the twenty-minutes-late kick-off, when Howell caught the goalkeeper temporarily embarassed after stopping a whizz-bang from Pease, and opened the scoring with an easy shot. Brown came to the rescue twice not long afterwards and earned a cheer for his intelligent anticipation, but the equaliser seemed inevitable, and such proved the case twenty minutes later. It was obtained as a result of an unintentional infringement by one of the home halves, the well-positioned free-kick being followed up for a corner, from which Haldin netted with a high drive. The truce, however, was not long enjoyed, for only five minutes had passed before Deeks placed his side once more ahead, and after the same period had elapsed Howell strengthened the lead by taking up a fine forward pass and running through on his own.
There was plenty of incident in the remaining ten minutes of the first half, but the score had undergone no variation when the interval arrived.
Hampstead came back to the field full of vigour and when after five minutes Shearcroft scored their fourth goal they appeared to be having matters all their own way. A quarter-of-an-hour from the interval Enfield made a great rally and Haldin was again successful in piercing the defence, the ball curling in just under the bar. This proved to be the end of the scoring, although some glorious opportunities were lost subsequently of adding to the total. Once the ball tobogganed across from the right wing and stopped dead on the goal-line with nobody near it and only a flake of snow to prevent it from crossing the vital mark. On another occasion Deeks brought the ball and goalkeeper down beside one of the uprights, and an inch to the right would have meant a goal, but again fortune was frustrated by the merest fluke.
All this helped to liven up what was never a dull game and it also served to keep the players in a good humour. There were no ugly episodes or preventable rough exchanges, and the few injuries were caused chiefly by contact with the weighty ball. If it is true that a rolling stone gathers no moss it is equally true that a rolling ball gathers much snow, as two of the players found to their sorrow when they put their heads to it.
With the exception of a weak spot at inside-right, Hampstead were well served by their forwards, of whom Howell proved the most effective. Deeks worked tremendously hard, but he was so ubiquitous that at times onlookers may have been pardoned for wondering if he was going back to Barnet. Pease played a valiant game at centre-half, and he was most ably flanked on the right by Anderson, with Wardlaw on the other side a good third. Both backs stemmed the rushes of their opponents with confidence and skill, and Brown, in goal, at times gave glimpses of fine defence. The visiting forwards were full of life, but the pick of the team was the centre-half, who broke up and initiated more attacks than anyone else in the game.