Skip to main content

No squash? Time to squeeze a game in


Bexhill United 3 Southwick 0, SCFL Division 1, 26th September 2018

“I can’t make squash this week, mate. I’m injured.”

And with these words, spoken by my regular (well, since the start of August) Wednesday night squash partner, the seeds for an extra – bonus – groundhopping adventure were sown.

“Ohh,” I replied. “I think Bexhill are playing Southwick on Wednesday night. Fancy that instead?”

A moment’s pause. He may have been contemplating my offer. He may have been weighing up quite why I knew that Bexhill were due to be playing Southwick on a random Wednesday evening. Who knows? Anyway, after a little consideration he decided that he did indeed fancy a trip to the football.

So, this Wednesday evening, at a time when we should have been charging (well, probably not charging, more... ambling) around a squash court trying to burn off some unwanted calories, we were instead sharing a couple of pints in Southwick’s clubhouse. Oh well. Best laid intentions and all that.



Now, some of the more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that I’ve mentioned being in Southwick’s clubhouse, despite the fact that Bexhill are listed as the home-side in the above score-line. This is not an error – perish the thought. The game was switched on Monday due to ongoing groundwork at Bexhill’s home ground, so although this match was played in Southwick it officially counted as a Bexhill home game.

It had been the announcement of this switch on Twitter that had initially alerted me to the fact that this game was being played. Despite what my friend may think, I don’t have Rain-man like abilities when it comes to Sussex football. Although, admittedly, I am getting there.

Due to the fairly last-minute change in venue there was no hot food being served at the game, much to my companion’s chagrin. He was starving. Instead we consoled ourselves with a packet of pork scratchings (me) and some bacon fries (him) and resolved to head to the closest McDonald’s drive-thru after the game. Unfortunately, on this latter mission my friend proved himself to be rather less reliable than a SatNav, and a quick tour of Southwick and Portslade followed. Unlike U2, we did eventually find what we were looking for.


Anyway, back to the game. Admission to Southwick’s Old Barn Way Stadium was just £5 a person, with a hastily put together program thrown in for free. Admittedly, I’ve been quite spoilt with some of the grounds I’ve visited recently, and don’t think I’d be unjust in saying that Southwick’s ground is one that has probably seen better days. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with it. It’s certainly no worse than a lot of grounds at this level. The main stand looks nice enough, and the padded seats for added comfort were a nice touch. It just looked a little… well… shabby in places.

Unfortunately, as is the case for thousands of non-league clubs up and down the country, money is an issue. As hard as volunteers work they can’t do everything. In my opinion it is clubs around this level throughout the nation where the FA should be providing far more funding as a little (relatively speaking) can go a long way.


The first half of the match, as the league table had suggested would be the case, was one-way traffic, with high-flying and free-scoring Bexhill utterly dominant. They took the lead with pretty much their first real attack of the first-half, when Jack Shonk scored a delightful effort with the outside of his boot from the edge of the area on the 11-minute mark.

Ten minutes later it was two. Sammy Bunn finished off some really good interplay, which resulted in a clever lay-off from Wayne Giles and a driven strike from 20 yards. It was possibly the best worked goal that I’ve seen so far on my travels this season!

The rest of the half played out like an attack vs defence drill, with Southwick forays into the Bexhill half as rare as a Jose Mourinho smile. Yet Bexhill could not find a way through for what, I’m sure, would have been a decisive third goal. Potentially a goal that would have opened the floodgates for a real hiding.

The second-half was a complete contrast from the opening 45 minutes. Whether it was a case of Bexhill thinking the game was won and taking their collective foot off the pedal, or some unbelievably motivational words coming from the Southwick dressing room during the interval, the visitors (who were playing at home) suddenly began to have the upper hand. This was much to the annoyance of my friend and I, who had moved to the other end of the ground, expecting most of the action to take place in the end Bexhill were attacking. That’ll teach us for being presumptuous!


Were it not for three superb saves from Bexhill goalkeeper Daniel Rose, and a headed clearance off the line, the outcome of this game could have been every different.

This isn’t to say The Pirates didn’t threaten sporadically. They did have the ball in the net around halfway through the second-half, following a goalkeeping error, only for the assistant’s flag to rule out a third goal.

The final goal came deep into injury time, to give an unflattering sheen to the scoreline – at least from the Wickers’ perspective. It came in rather comical circumstances – an own goal from one of the defenders (sorry didn’t see who it was, probably much to his relief) who somehow managed to chip his own goalkeeper, who was stranded well outside the area, from 30-yards. When your luck’s not in…

So it finished 3-0 to the hosts/visitors. Let’s just say Bexhill.

All that remained now was a trip to McDonalds to top up on our pint and bar snacks.
Let’s hope my friend’s injury doesn’t last too long. I’m not sure my waistline could take it!          

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A return to Steyning

Steyning Town 1 Punjab United 1 AET (Steyning win 9-8 on penalties), FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round, 15th September 2018
One of the main reasons that I decided to embark on my groundhopping adventure this season was to sizably increase the number of non-league grounds that I’ve visited.
So here’s a confession. For the second time already this season, I have chosen to visit a ground that I’ve previously been to (last month’s visit to Saltdean United’s Hill Park being the other).
Yet while Saturday’s visit to Steyning Town’s Shooting Field Stadium was my second visit to the ground, it was my first time as a spectator. My previous visit occurred around a year ago when I played in a Vets game for Withdean against the Steyning over 35s. That match finished in a 1-1 draw and I happened to score our goal (this last fact has no relevance whatsoever to the rest of this post, but was a fact still worth mentioning, in my opinion).
Having missed out on attending an FA Vase match a couple of weeks ago,…

Groundhopping away from home

Bootle FC 3 Charnock Richard 1, NWCFL Premier Division, 21st August 2018
When, a few months ago, the parents of the Withdean Youth team that I had coached for the past eight years clubbed together to buy me a tour of Anfield, my wife viewed this as a great opportunity to take a few days away with the kids during the summer holidays.
What she hadn’t banked on back then was my new hobby of Non-League groundhopping. Therefore, with the tour booked, and our dates away confirmed, I started looking into possible matches that we could attend. You can probably imagine the better half’s excitement when I informed her of my plans. Surprisingly, however, she didn’t turn down my offer for her to tag along me and the kids.
Following some half-hearted research (never been a strength if I’m honest), I noticed that North-West Counties Football League side Bootle FC were  scheduled to be at home on the Tuesday evening that we were due to be in Liverpool. The name Bootle struck a chord with me immediatel…

An early taste of FA Cup magic

Haywards Heath 0 Lancing FC 2, Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round, 11th August
While it may only be the opening weekend of the new Premier League season, it’s already FA Cup day in non-league world. Well, lower non-league world anyway.
To celebrate the magic of the FA Cup (which still very much exists for clubs at this level), I’ve decided to cross the East Sussex border and visit my first non-Southern Combination Football League ground of the new season. Albeit not by much. In either case.
Based in West Sussex, but located fairly close to the East Sussex border, Haywards Heath Town were last year’s SCFL champions and will this season ply their trade at a higher level in the newly formed Bostik South East Division.
This is my first visit to the Hanbury Stadium and my first impressions, as I drive towards the ground and spy the main stand (pictured), are good.

Things only improve as I reach the ground and upon enquiring where I should park am told you pay your entrance fee (£8 for adul…