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Wednesday 2nd January 2013 ko 19.45

Wessex League Premier Division

BLACKFIELD & LANGLEY 3 (Baldacchino 7 61 Gibbens 39)


Att 160

Entry £5

Programme £1

The trips south along the A34 are beginning to run out, I’m running low on Wessex League grounds to visit, this one I’d missed out on when someone parked their boat across the carriageway, and I only had time enough to pay Hythe & Dibden a visit.

The villages of Blackfield and Langley, long since subsumed into each other, are in the parish of Fawley, Hampshire, and Blackfield refers to the dark marshy soil prevalent here. The dominant feature here is the Exxonmobil refinery which dominates the skyline, and for who the visitors were their works team in the past. Opened in 1951, the facility produces roughly a fifth of the petrol used for travel on the UK’s roads. With just a mile between the two grounds this local derby attracted a crowd of four times the average attendance.

I was intrigued by the new of the ground, “Gang Warily.” It’s Scots vernacular for “Go Carefully,” and is the motto of the Scottish Drummond clan, and was awarded for services to Robert the Bruce. That seems odd, given the distance from Gretna! It transpires that the Drummond clan moves to the south in 1772 (Culloden was in 1745), and bought large tracts of land in Hampshire. A percentage of this was taken for the refinery, and the rest became the recreation ground, the name adopted as a nod to the past.

It remains a municipal facility, there was after all a Boxercise class finishing in the adjoining gym when I arrived, and there are pitches other than the club one for hire. That in time may well become an issue for the club, as the likes of Kevin Gibbens, formerly of Southampton, and Alex Baldacchino on dual registration with AFC Totton, point to a club with ambition. With the changing rooms a fair distance from the pitch, and no turnstiles, the improvements for an attempt at the Southern League look to be both expensive and difficult.

They proved to be far too strong for Fawley, as perhaps you’d expect for a club that made the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup, losing away at Hastings United, themselves planning a third round tie this Saturday away at Middlesbrough. The backlog of games have put Blackfield rather artificially in mid-table, and despite Baldacchino’s early strike, from Ekowe Elliot’s cross, they misfired as a team for most of the first half, Elliot in particular having all the tools to beat the Fawley defence, but not knowing when to use them. Gibbens scored the second, taking a mile where an inch was given, to dance through the defence and pass the ball into the bottom left corner.

Gibbens played the second half noticeably deeper, and Blackfield relied on keeper Joe Produmo to keep the score down with a series of fine saves. His goal was breached once more, getting a hand to Baldacchino’s low shot into the low corner, but the shot had just that little too much power. Despite a late flurry from Fawley, after Gibbens had departed Blackfield keeper Steve Mowthorpe was equal to the challenge, and the final scoreline could have easily have been harsher on the visitors.