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Saturday 22nd August 2015 ko 14.30

Isle of Wight Jubilee Cup

BRADING TOWN 3 (Collins 7 Hichcox 28 Hatcher 45) Vale missed penalty 45)


Att 34

Entry £1

No Programme

The further I delve into every football ground everywhere, the endless choice every Saturday doesn’t get any less bewildering nearly 1,700 grounds in. Writing these articles helps, as it steers you towards places that cry out to have their story told, but in the end Brading Town became a classic piece of completionism.

It always used to be the case that there were 4 Wessex League or above clubs on the Isle of Wight. There was Newport (IW), Cowes Sports , East Cowes Victoria ,and Brading Town, but Brading opted to drop back into the Isle of Wight League for the start of last season citing the high costs of travelling from the island. But for no good reason I still see Brading as being part of “The 4” and there was another good reason to go as well.

The other three clubs normally involve taking either the ferry or “Red Jet” from Portsmouth, then either a walk, chain-ferry or bus, but being on the other side of the island Brading has another way of doing it altogether, and lets face it, who wouldn’t want to go to football by hovercraft?!

The “flight” costs £18.90 return from Southsea front, and do factor in parking which costs around £7 per day, and spaces do come at a premium in High Season. Once you’re at the terminal its worth knowing that your ticket guarantees you a place on only the flight you’ve booked for, but if there’s space you can use any flight that day. A “Five Minute” rule is used, meaning that 5 minutes before departure any valid ticket can use the service.

The crossing takes 10 minutes, and deposits you outside Ryde Esplanade railway station. I eschewed that station because the station to service the ferries, Ryde Pier Head, is right at the end of the pier, and who wouldn’t want to ride a train on the national network on a seaside pier? It is as fun as it sounds! The trains are 1938 London Underground stock that were withdrawn from use on the Northern Line in 1992, but are perfect for the reduced weight limits on the Island Line.

Sadly that may not be the case for much longer, the franchise is run by Stagecoach who show little enthusiasm for bidding again when it expires in 2017. A heritage society could take it on, but would the service continue in its present form? As fun and convenient my £4.40 for the 4 stops to Brading was, it was abundantly clear the line needs investment.

From Brading station, it’s a 15 minute walk to Vicarage Lane, and the ground is still obviously suitable for Wessex League football. There are two real quirks though, both to be found at the bottom. The first is the Island Line trains trundling past every 20 minutes or so, with the drivers sounding the whistle as they passed the ground. The second is that the land behind the line hasn’t always been there. The town has had a quayside, there are roads named to that effect, but the harbour silted up, so there’s a good mile of farmland between the ground and eastwards to the sea.

Before the game there was the added entertainment of the planes heading for the Shoreham air show flying past. That ended in tragedy, not least for the two players from Worthing United and I extend my sympathy to all those affected by the crash.

The Jubilee Cup is a tournament used as a precursor to the Isle of Wight League season, and again the quirks were present! I looked up Brading’s fixtures, and saw that they had replay in this competition the following Tuesday! That didn’t make a lot of sense to me, it is a cup competition after all but there was a simple explanation. The competition is run as a series of 4 mini-leagues with the winners qualifying for the semi-finals. It transpired that the opposition, Shanklin had fielded an ineligible player in the original fixture, and the competition organisers had opted to replay the game. The issue of eligibility was to arise again.

It became obvious that Northwood were fielding a very young side, and since referee Matt Sainsbury had explained carefully that 3 from 5 substitutes could be used and they could then be rolled on and off, I was surprised when an argument ensued when Northwood tried to bring on young Matt West early on. It transpired he was ineligible, so was their other substitute too. It made a tough task impossible for them.

Brading ran in 3 goals, it should have been 4 with the missed penalty, but more than anything else this was good day to watch a friendly, welcoming club and have a lot of fun getting there. Just do your research and have a wonderful day out.