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Wednesday 7th March 2012 ko 7.45pm

Wessex League Division One

VERWOOD TOWN 2 (Satterley 52 Lloyd 84og)

BROCKENHURST 1 (Lloyd 72)

Att 118

Entry £5

Programme £1

Verwood is the first town you reach after crossing west from Hampshire into Dorset. The name derives from Fair wood, and the arboral feel still exists today, both in the town, and Potterne Park where its football team plays. The town seems to be very good at producing actors, as Lionel Jeffries, Jessie Matthews and more latterly Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert in “Only Fools and Horses”) all hailed from here. Former King Crimson vocalist Gordon Haskell is also from here. The Monmouth Ash pub is reputed to mark the spot at which the Duke of Monmouth hid from his pursuers in a tree after his ill-fated rebellion in 1683. It didn’t work well, as he was beheaded in 1685!

Potterne Park is a country park on the southern edge of the town, and since other than the walking areas, there’s also space for cricket and a BMX/Skateboard track, the place can be difficult to find. It didn’t help that I was running late due to hold-ups leaving Banbury, and it is on the outer limits of what I can get to from a 5pm start. I reached the ground about 10 minutes before kickoff after pushing myself and the car a little too much!  I was fortunate that Mike Woodward was there to buy me a programme and confirm that the club had posted the lineups on a whiteboard. Many thanks Mike!

With the club top of the league frantic efforts are being made to get the ground up to Premier Division standards. The footings for a Paybox are in place and a new fence will go up behind the far goal, the only inaccessible side of the pitch. The 4 “Arena” stands are in place, two with seats, two without. For the football ground purist that’s what’s wrong with the place. The club has only been in the Wessex League since 2004, when the league absorbed the Hampshire League, and so the ground has had to keep pace with grading requirements since then, and from being little more than a pitch and a set of changing rooms. There’s simply been no time to create “Character.”

What is beyond reproach is the team. A point clear of Team Solent and with two games in hand before this, they looked a fine outfit against another good team as Brockenhurst are fourth. The best description of the match I can give is that for a large percentage of it I thought I was watching an Premier Division game, as the teams maintained a breakneck pace, while maintaining a decent passing game.

It took time for the first goal, Jack Satterley being put clean through to fire home. There was an element of controversy about the equaliser. A corner was played in from the left, and headed back from the far post for centre-half Ross Lloyd to nod home at the near. The Verwood players thought the ball had been headed back from beyond the goal-line, but from where I was stood behind the goal, it looked fairly clearly in. In the final analysis it didn’t matter as Lloyd was to score against rising beautifully again, but this time to inexplicably to head past his own keeper following a cross from the right. He will no doubt blame his defensive colleagues for not shouting that he was under no pressure, and it was notable that no-one commiserated with him afterwards.

Rough on him and rough on Brockenhurst whose performance looked worthy of at least a point. I drove home considerably slower than I did a couple of hours earlier!