SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28
Winchester City 4
Today is a bit of a mystery tour. My mate CAMRAman, quite possibly the ‘saddest’ man in the universe, kindly offers to ferry us down to Portland Harbour for an almost mythical bird (Brünnich’s Guillemot) with a match to follow.
As we reach Weymouth, the weather turns from pleasant winter sun to miserable heavy showers. This is not what the drenched south needs right now. With the bird ticked off it is my job to phone around to find a match. It is now 1.00pm. Four enquiries later, the secretary of Bournemouth, of the Sydenhams Wessex League, is confident the match against high-flying Winchester City will take place but as we reach the outskirts of the town it is tipping it down and there are large puddles on all the approach roads. I’ve got a very bad feeling about this!
After parking up at Namu Road, I notice the players warming up on the soggy training areas. The main pitch looks fine: phew! The clubhouse is already very busy, mainly with away fans and home officials. I receive a warm welcome. I check the match is still going ahead. “Why, do you fancy a game? I’m sure we can fit you in”
I notice a gaggle of activity near the bar where an official is besieged by fans clamouring for today’s programme (£1 + £6 entrance fee). The rain finally eases and I watch the first half from the uncovered area opposite the main stand, just behind the dugouts. The programme states that “anyone using foul and abusive language will be ejected from the ground”, so I wonder how the home number six gets away with several very loud exclamations of the C word (the one TV announcers like to describe as “very strong language”) without punishment.
The first half is uninspiring, ending at a goal apiece. There is no hot food available in the bar so I content myself with a Cup-a-Soup and some mangled Twix fingers. I haven’t eaten since before five this morning!
I sit in the stand for the second half being as the rain is falling once again. The faux posh bloke behind me constantly questions the referee’s (correct) decisions in exaggerated fashion but I refuse to pay lip service to a spectator who turns up to watch a match dressed in green wellies. The rest of the people in the stand ignore him, presuming he is just trying to impress his rather attractive girlfriend by regurgitating every nugget of excrement he has heard spewing from the mouths of TV pundits.
The half of football is incredible. Lowly Poppies take the lead, are pegged back by City, take the lead again, lose the lead once more and then go down to a beautiful injury time goal worthy of winning any football match in the world.
Credit must go to the groundstaff being as the pitch satisfactorily holds up to the pounding. Seven goals at a new ground with a mega-bird to boot: what more could a pair of ‘sad hoppers’ wish for? Answer: food on the way home, please!
Ticket Value: 3.5, Programme: 3, Food: 0, Toilets: 3.5, Facilities: 3.5, Welcome: 3.5, Match: 5, Overall: 4.5