Friday 2nd December 2011 ko 7.45pm
Western League Division One
GILLINGHAM TOWN 11 (Thomson 15 Murray 19 80 Gale 28 41 59 Ben Salem 34 49 Compton 68 Ruston 84 Bentall 87og)
SHREWTON UNITED 1 (Judd 37)
For those not in the know this wasn’t a trip to the Medway town, rather a trip to a small market town 3 miles over the border from Wiltshire into Dorset. The misnomers don’t stop there either, the town is pronounced with a hard “G”- as in what fish breathe with! The name implies a “homestead of the family or followers of a man called Gylla”, a model consistent with the occupation of Dorset by the Saxons from the 7th century.
In October 1348, fifty percent of the 2,000 people living in the town died of the Black Death in the space of four months.
I’d pondered hard about whether to go. I’d had an asthma attack the day before, and from work in Banbury it did represent quite a drive, I wasn’t convinced I’d made kick off! Me being me I arrived at 6.30! Soon after the hoppers arrived…Firstly Lee and Gilly, and Jersey based John Treleven, then Calne based Paul Fergusson. It made for a convivial atmosphere, especially with real ale on tap!
Hardings Lane started life as an agricultural showground, and the lean-to wooden stand dates from those days, it actually pre-dates planning permission! John was told that the water-jump was where the centre spot is now! The orange bucket seats are a wonderful piece of clever thinking. The club found out that Dundee United were replacing the seats at Tannadice, and since they too play in orange, phoned up the manufacturer, and asked whether there were any left over! Cue 100 or so seats heading south! The difficultly the club will have long-term is the ground is rented from a farmer on a rolling one-year agreement so plans are afoot to move. Until then, enjoy this lovely piece of ingenuity!
But the game… I’d seen Gillingham at Cowes Sports in the FA Vase earlier this season. They didn’t look like scoring, but it hadn’t helped that striker Benjani Ben Salem had lost his head completely early on, resulting in a rapid red card. Moreover, in their previous game they’d blown a 2 goal lead in losing to Dorset Premier League outfit Hamworthy Rec’ in a County cup. Shrewton looked a decent, if ordinary step 6 team.
And for 15 minutes Shrewton were on top, but as soon as Thomson scored from close range, the floodgates opened. It was, for a time a case of each and every chance was being converted. Thomas Judd’s excellent cushioned lob reduced the deficit, but in the second half the steady flow of goals continued, Lee Gale collecting a fine hattrick, while the Torresesque miss that denied Ben Salem his hattrick will live long in the memory. Bentall’s own goal, stabbing past his own keeper, was a cruel coda to a scoreline that made the visitors look a far worse team than they were.