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Saturday 31st January 2015 ko 14.00

Sussex County League Division 3

BOSHAM 3 (Lafferty 21 Wilson 75p Storey 90)

BILLINGSHURST 1 (N Stepney 53)

Att 22

Entry & Programme £2

Tea 80p

These days the village of Bosham is easily by-passed. The A27 from Havant to Chichester does exactly that, you head close to back on yourself from the roundabout at the Chichester end. There’s far more to the village than just being halfway along a by-way, this is the village named on the Bayeux Tapestry after all!

In 1064 Harold met King Edward the Confessor en route to Normandy to meet William to discuss who would succeed Edward. It was decided that William would succeed, and so the seeds of the Norman Conquest were sown, and that meeting is what was recorded in the tapestry. In fact Harold’s links go beyond just one meeting. It has been speculated that Harold was buried in Bosham Church rather than the more commonly accepted Waltham Abbey, but in 2004 the Diocese of Chichester refused an exhumation request, on the grounds that the chances of Harold being there was too slim to justify to justify it.

The Sussex County League may well be the last of a dying breed, a Step 5 league that operates a Step 7, Intermediate-status division. It works for the county, giving a handy bridge from the West and Mid-Sussex Leagues into senior football. Bosham were founder members of Division 3, in 1983 and a year later were promoted, and herein lies the tragedy of their existence.

The club plays at the village recreation ground, in Walton Lane, and the ground is exactly what it is, a village rec’ unsuitable for senior football. It can’t be enclosed, the club have to erect and take down the rails and dugouts before and after each game, and the club will never be able to get floodlights; As one official put it,

“What we need is a nice Russian Oligarch to spend some money on us, and build us a ground on the edge of the village.”

The club was relegated back to Division 3, but in 2011 did win £20,000 in a national competition for ground improvements, the clubhouse being the main beneficiary of the cash. Since relegation Bosham have won the division 3 times, and been refused promotion each time. With league rules preventing groundshares, the club are stuck, unable to improve the ground, and unable to move.

A fourth title looks more than possible too, the club are top, but second-place Langley Wanderers do have multiple games in hand, and they saw off 5th placed Billingshurst here, albeit with a lot of huffing and puffing in the biting cold.

But as ever it won’t be the game I’ll remember the club for. Every time I visit a new club there is always that moment when you have your hand on the clubhouse door handle, and wonder what you’ll find behind. The smiles my party and I found were a real credit to the club, and you couldn’t help but warm to Bosham, despite the arctic conditions! I just hope they can find a way to progress.