Wednesday 24th January 2012 ko 7.45pm
Wessex League Premier Division
TOTTON & ELING 2 (Feeney 34 Anderson 83)
CHRISTCHURCH 1 (Crutchley 90)
Att 59 (h/c)
Programme £1 (reissue from 29/11/11)
This was my third choice game, but with both Banstead Athletic and AFC Totton falling victim to waterlogged pitches, I plumbed for the Millers Park. What made the choice remarkable is that Totton and Eling’s ground in Little Testwood Park is adjacent to AFC Totton’s! Still, no complaints here, and a tick’s a tick!
The club started life as the works team of British and American Tobacco, and as BAT Sports used the Southern Gardens works sports ground. Incidentally the clubhouse still is in situ, and some Wessex League meetings are held there. The club lost both its home and the patronage of BAT in quick succession, but gained a new ground as part of the planning gain extracted from Linden Homes from them to build on Southern Gardens and AFC Totton’s Testwood Park.
I have to say it isn’t the greatest development. The most obvious thing missing is a clubhouse. The club are “Allowed” to use AFC Totton’s clubhouse but there’s no mention of them in there, and I assume no bar takings head their way. Within the ground itself, the Meccano stand behind the goal and the main stand are both graduates of Southern Gardens, so it would appear that the only buildings gained by the club are the changing rooms, and a block containing a toilet block, servery, and hospitality room. The stand is low, and the rake of the seats too shallow, in fact I sat there for a full 20 seconds before moving elsewhere. The programme was poor, out of date, and the club printed only around 15 copies.
To be honest it all felt like an annexe to the main stadium, and you do wonder whether in time T & E will be swallowed up by their neighbours.
And for all of that I really enjoyed myself. Maybe it was because the officials were friendly, and that I watched the game with someone who really can put a good programme together, Whitstable Town’s Andy Short.
The game was interesting too. I fully expected Christchurch to win this encounter, but they looked listless, and it was little surprise the T & E and took the lead in the 34th minute when a Matt Hardiman free kick was flicked on by skipper Steve Marwood to the back post. Craig Feeney’s shot appeared to be going in off the keeper, but Steve Jenkin made sure. The remainder of the half saw chances at both ends but no further goals. The second half was similar to the first with both teams enjoying posession and T & E keeper Sam Webb was forced into a couple of smart saves. The 2nd goal arrived in the 81st minute when a quick free kick led to a Hardiman shot being saved and Anderson was the quickest to react to the loose ball to slot home. Christchurch did get a late consolation when an inswinging cross was deftly flick-headed in by Dan Crutchley. I just felt on a different night, they’d had found the extra something to get something from this fixture.