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Saturday 7th September 2013 ko 14.30

Anglian Combination Division Two

BUNGAY TOWN 11 (ELEVEN) (Flint 8 Barnes 19 27 Ling 20 87 Mirner 24 52 89 Wilby 32 Andrews 76 Hammersley 86)


Att 88

Entry -5p

Programme 50p

Burger £2.50

Once a year Football has, ” Non League Day,” when an international weekend means there’s no Premier League and Championship games scheduled. Fans are encouraged to support grass roots football, and the smaller clubs try their best to entice new supporters to come and visit them. Last year, I ended up at an iconic ground, Northern League Crook Town http://wp.me/p1PehW-1dV, but this year I wanted a fresh approach, so I decided to pick the club with what I thought was the best marketing gimmick. And Bungay won that battle by an absolute mile.

Bungay lies on the very edge of Suffolk, on a meander in the river Waveney, which is the border with Norfolk. The football club actually play on the Norfolk side, about half a mile way in Ditchingham. The town is most famous for the legend of “Black Shuck,” the ghostly dog.

The story tells that on Sunday August 4, 1577 during a filthy storm at St Mary’s Church during a service,  “The Black Dog of Bungay” is said to have killed two and left another injured. The dog was later believed to have visited the “Cathedral of the Marshes,” at Blythburgh, during the same thunderstorm within an hour of the appearance at Bungay. In that appearance the hound, after charging down the aisle, fled through the north door of the church. Large black scorched gouges can still be seen on the door. The story is immortalised in the song “Black Shuck, by rock band The Darkness.

The football club’s nickname is a nod to the legend, “The Black Dogs,” and vice-chairman Shaun Cole explained that they’d love the team to come out to “The Darkness'” song, but there’s just a few too many rude words!!

But why Bungay on “Non League Day?” Well many clubs gave discounts for holders of other clubs’ season tickets, but none went as far as actually offering to pay people to attend! That’s right, 5p just for turning up! I took James and Chris from Milton Keynes, and made sure we declined the offer, paying the £2 they normally charge. But let’s look at the gambit properly. 88 people at 5p equals £4.40, and with programmes at 50p, and a barbeque selling locally produced meat and mushrooms for a bargain £2.50 the club cannot have failed to have made money.

Of course all of this is meaningless if the product isn’t good enough for people to return. Well a trip to Maltings Meadow, is excellent both on and off the pitch. There’s a modern, well-appointed clubhouse, and the 4 step bench stand gives all the cover you’d need. The ground would grace the Eastern Counties League, 3 promotions above this level, which the club have played at, albeit for only one season, 1963-4.

On the pitch, well just look at the score! Whilst Brandon looked like a side with a played 4, lost 4 record, shipping 26 goals in the process, they still had to be beaten, which the Black Dogs did so in style, but without resorting to the sickening showboating that sometimes marrs one-sided games. Man of the match perhaps inevitably was Brandon keeper Craig Winstone, without him Brandon could easily have leaked 20. There was a lovely moment when the 11th goal went in, and a Brandon player moaned,

“We’ve had a sh*t 5 minutes.”

Winstone’s retort was priceless,

“Well the other 85 weren’t great!”

It summed up what was probably the perfect day for 3 groundhoppers, but a day the gallant visitors will want to forget. I hope they can rebuild over the course of the season, they won’t be able to take defeats like this for too long.

We said our goodbyes to Shaun and his wonderful, friendly club, and remarked that as a sales gambit the “Pay the public,” gambit worked perfectly. A great club, ground and team should be a winning combination in this corner of East Anglia.