There was a change of scenery for ‘The Barber’ with three nights spent in Bournemouth. Almost inevitably, three weeks of dry and hot conditions gave way to heavy rain and I got a spectacular drenching on my way back from a game at Bashley on Saturday.
Bashley is a village in the New Forest, blink and you’ll miss it, but their football team has reached the Second Round Proper of The FA Cup and played in an FA Vase Semi-Final. I set off from my hotel under a grey sky and took the train from Pokesdown (recently renamed ‘Pokesdown for Boscombe’) to New Milton, a journey of just ten minutes.
Bashley’s tidy little ground has a field next to it with horses and ‘Bashley Village Hall’ is actually inside the ground. ‘Bash’ had a crowd of around 70 for Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Hampton & Richmond Borough and I stood behind the far goal in the first half with rain threatening.
The home side were ahead in seven minutes and won 2-1, Hampton missing enough chances to have won it themselves.
There were a couple of showers during the second half, which I watched from the yellow-seated stand, and the rain just about held off during a 22-minute walk back to the station, sliding about on grassy banks and dodging tractors as they rumbled round blind corners. I was caught in a deluge from Pokesdown back to the hotel but wasn’t complaining after all that sticky weather recently.
Bournemouth has been my favourite English resort for more than 30 years and I’ve taken more than a passing interest in their League club during that period.
I was at Dean Court when ‘The Cherries’ clinched the Division Three Championship under Harry Redknapp in ’87, the previous time they were promoted to the second tier. They beat Rotherham 2-0 on a memorable afternoon.
Tony Pulis, then a steely midfielder, put in a tackle in the centre circle that caused the Rotherham player to lose both of his boots. Some of the crowd were at the touchlines, ready to rush on to celebrate at the final whistle, but they ‘jumped the gun’ when the ref blew for a free kick.
In the pandemonium that followed the Bournemouth ‘keeper had his jersey removed by fans and had to play out the last few seconds ‘topless’.
I’m up to nine friendlies this season and last Wednesday I saw Leyton Orient edge New York Cosmos 2-1 at Matchroom Stadium.
Cosmos, in green and white, were nowhere near the standard of the old club that had the likes of Pele and Beckenbauer in their ranks but put on a decent show for a crowd of 2,004. The new club played its first official fixture in 2011.
Games this season = 9
Games in total = 6,474