Saturday May 18th 2013, kick off 15:00.
Dorset Premier League.
Wareham Rangers (Amber/Black) 2-2 Swanage Town and Herston (White/Black).
Att 84, admission 3 pounds prog included, a half of Ringwoods ‘Boondoggle’ 1.65.
Ahhh wonderful Dorset, rolling green hills, ancient coastline etc.
Certainly one of my favourite counties in England. With leagues now finishing as we reached the third Saturday in May, opportunities for new ground visits were starting to recede. However I’d noticed in the Football Traveller a tasty looking Derby at Wareham Rangers. I had my wedding stag weekend in Swanage in June 2010. We enjoyed a circular five-mile walk out to the coastal path and back, which set us up for an afternoon at possibly my favourite pub in England, ‘The Square and Compass’ in Worth Matravers.
Ros was keen to visit to one of our favourite parks in the UK, namely ‘Monkey World’ at nearby Wool, a beautiful spot, and on the day the sun was out and the celsius was high, all looked good as we headed down the M4/A34/M3 and M/A 27.
Wareham is a small market town about eight miles south-west of Poole. Built on a dry channel between the Rivers ‘Frome’ and ‘Piddle’. The delights of Corfe Castle (and village), Studland Bay are also nearby. The town’s oldest features are the town walls, ancient earth ramparts surrounding the town, likely built by Alfred the Great in the 9th century to defend the town from the Danes.
During the English Civil War, Wareham changed hands several times between the Royalists and Parliamentarians and in August 1644 was the site of a fierce battle with 2,000 Cromwellian soldiers besieging the town.
Wareham Rangers play at the Purbeck Sports Centre on the outskirts of the town. It took only about twelve minutes to drive from Monkey World, where Ros stayed for the rest of the afternoon for further primate watching.
The pitch itself is not visible from the car park, but is behind the sports centre, in fact it’s a good 100 yards walk from the back of the sports centre building, with an all-weather all surface outdoor five/six/seven a side courts running behind the back of the small covered shelter of Rangers.
Rather unusually clearly the sports fields are also used for athletics, as markings from a running track were still visible on the grass, a first for me in watching football. Quite a pleasing aspect with trees hugging two sides of the pitch, and some rolling countryside teasing the eye through the trees opposite the stand.
Taking up a position on the sports centre side, I was soon joined unexpectedly by a fellow hopper. Steve from Harrow, who I’d met at one of (2010) Kid Hedwall’s excellent annual Swedish hops. Steve being a rather unusual animal in this hobby of ours in being an ex semi pro player (conf/isthmian etc) who turned to hopping after finishing his playing career. We decided to stand between the dugouts, and shortly before HT we were joined by his travelling companion, a Watford fan, some lively banter about the upcoming Pal/Watford play off final ensued.
Strange then at HT that we should get chatting with a Yeovil fan being another nonleaguematters poster, and another off to Wembley, in his case the following day, to take on Brentford in their final.
In fact all we needed now was a Brentford fan, and we had a representative of the full set of Championship and League One play off finalists! Sadly no bees buzzed by, ahem.
The game was a lively affair, on a day more frankly suited to cricket whites. Swanage dominated the first thirty minutes and took a two goal lead after strikes from Kittle and Mullins. just as I was heading for the shade of the sports bar for a HT drink, Wareham were awarded and converted a penalty, 1-2 at ht.
The second half was rather a reversal in fortune, as Wareham equalised on fifty-six minutes, and then the last half hour was rather end to end, with neither side seriously looking like adding to their tally, a deserved draw in my opinion. Steve was doing a champagne job on the Dorset Premier, whereas for me it was a new Step7 league to add to my collection list, and one I fully intend to return to in the future. Apparently we were lucky to get a programme because issuing can be very ad hoc, although I believe Swanage do a particularly good programme, a club and ground high on my tick list, especially as because they have floodlights they are the only entrants from this league in the FA Vase each season.