Saturday December 10th, KO 15:00, Victoria Park, Wessex Premier Division.
Bournemouth FC 3-0 Hayling United, attendance 48.
Admission £6, Programme £1, Badge £2.50, Cup of tea 60p.
Having enjoyed a pleasant overnight stay in nearby West Lulworth with the purpose being to celebrate my 49th birthday, we arrived in the Winton district of Bournemouth. This was after a visit to the deserted village of Tyneham, requisitioned by the MOD in 1943, and never given back to its inhibitants, interesting place.
Over the years a couple of ground hoppers have told me that Victoria Park is a tricky venue to find, well I’d guess that was before sat nav days as my in car friend had no problem directing me there. At 1st glance Victoria Park looked a pretty soulless venue, hemmed in by housing with just the main stand to break the monotony, however my impression changed as the day progressed.
No ‘gate’ was taken on entry, but a club official took payment and sold programmes from inside the clubhouse, and I must say what an excellent little programme this was, most informative and entertaining, well worth 1 pound. A club enamel badge was available from behind the bar, proudly displaying ‘1875’ as year of formation, and indidcating them as one of the oldest clubs in the country!
Ros attended the game with me, as the bright and sunny weather forecast was not forthcoming as suggested, and she did not fancy the local gardens she had planned, but instead made herself comfortable near the window of the clubhouse which did give very good views of the pitch without the need to take in the December cool air!
As is my usual plan for this time of the year, the 1st 45 mins are spent walking slowly around the ground perimeter taking photos whilst the light is still good, it was whilst doing this that my 1st impression of the ground changed somewhat. The main stand looked more attractive from a distance, and to the left of the stand stood some trees which to my untrained eye looked a little tropical and more common to the south-west part of the country with its higher sun hours and temperatures.
Bournemouth Poppies went into this game in mid table having progressed to the next round of the FA Vase the previous Saturday having defeated Western league Barnstaple Town 2-0 at home, so confidence was evidently high. Whereas the ‘Humbugs’ of Hayling United who came into this game rock bottom of the pile, and clearly struggling for form. I’d seen HU a few months previously at Fawley, losing 3-1 on the night, but battling hard to the end. Today they arrived with only 13 players, and as expected Bournemouth took the game to HU and as the half wore on their raids into HU territory became more regular, and only some impressive keeping from stopper Lloyd Patella and some poor finishing kept the score to 0-0 at HT.
At HT Ros asked me how I though the game would pan out, “easy win for Bournemouth” I said with confidence, “only matter of time”. Rarely am I proved correct, today I was, as the 2nd half really was a continuation of the latter parts of the 1st half, as Jon Blake scored on 57, sub Dave Ewen on 77, and Martin Warrun on 89, the score could easily have been 6 or 7 if not for MOM, HU keeper Patella, who some wag in the clubhouse had suggested “Saints should sign” after the horror show from the Saints stand in keeper in the lunch time fixture v Blackpool covered on Sky. In the 2nd half I sat in the stand, which consisted of wooden benches, wooden steps, which had a real old time feel. The only downside from veiwing from here was that the clubhouse blocked the view of the 10 yards or so from the right coner flag, poorly thought out when presuambly re-building/renewing the clubhouse.
If HU are struggling for a team, as they appeared to be today, clearly it appears they may lose their Premier league status, but they again impressed me with their never say die attitude and willingness to play until the end. I shall keep an eye on the progress of the Poppies in the FA Vase.