Tuesday 6th December 2011 ko 7.45pm
Wessex League Cup 3rd Round
ALTON TOWN 2 (Brown 34 Dyer 77)
MONEYFIELDS 4 (Slater 11 Hore 25 39 Asajelic 74)
Att 70 (h/c)
Programme NO (2 old copies FREE)
Hot Dog £1.50
The Hampshire town of Alton, other than being a northern outpost of the Wessex League is probably most famous for being where the term “Sweet Fanny Adams” was coined. In 1867, an eight-year old girl, Fanny Adams, was murdered. Her assailant, Frederick Baker, was executed in Winchester and one of the original public notices advertising his forthcoming execution hangs in the Crown Public House in the town. The murder, so the story goes, coincided with the introduction of tinned meat in the Royal Navy, and the sailors who did not like the new food said the tins contained the remains of “Sweet Fanny Adams” or “Sweet F A”, hence the expression which for over a century has meant “Sweet nothing.” My first impressions of the local team were not far removed from that!
I arrived at the Alton (Bass) ground at around 7.00pm and was told the programmes hadn’t arrived. That excuse I’ve heard far too often. Playing along, I decamped to the bar and discovered that there was no one to serve me; nor was the food bar open. I commiserated with the referee’s assessor, a league official and his wife. At about 7.30 I asked how I might obtain the line-ups to be told to see the man on the gate, as “He might read them out.”
I asked, and was informed ” I don’t know, those lot over there haven’t brought them over.” I assumed that meant over at the changing rooms so walked over and obtained the line-ups. I offered to take them over to the gateman and was told, “Are they whingeing at us again? I’ll have a right word with them after the game!” Clearly a club ill at ease with itself, I made my excuses and met Paul Fergusson in the stand. He’d had the same excuse as I did for the lack of a programme, so at least they’d been consistant!
And that dear reader is where it all changed for the better. I allowed myself to see the ground, divorced from the poor administration. It really is a real cracker, with its roots as the Bass Brewery cricket ground obvious. The footprint is still the cricketing oval but in order to have hardstanding and floodlights a concrete strip cuts the area in half. One half is the pitch, the other a training area separates that with the changing room block, the pavilion converted for that use. The stand is quirky, wooden, and divided up into areas I still don’t quite understand!
Eventually the food service swung into action, and my hot dog was both inexpensive and delicious! The game, thankfully was as good as the ground. Whilst the visitors always looked the better side, a mixture of good goalkeeping and poor finishing meant the result looked in doubt until late on. Town’s second, a thumping free kick was the pick of the bunch.
I left thinking, if Alton had got the basics right at the start, then this would have been a superb visit. That dear reader, is a tale any attraction can learn from.