Tuesday 15th December 2015 ko 19.45
Wessex League Cup 2nd Round
ALTON TOWN 4 (Fox 3 Gray 7 Peck 73 Latimer 81)
FAREHAM TOWN 2 (Jackson 11 Laycock 85)
I suspect when Coors started procedures to move Alton Town from their historic Bass Ground noone, least of all the club would have expected an outcome this good. Let’s face it, non-league football is littered with tales of homeless clubs groundsharing for a while, then slowly dying. What makes this all the more interesting is that the club have moved less than 400 yards, just across and along the main road, and in the process have gone home.
In the beginning there was Alton Town playing at Anstey Park, and Bass Alton playing at the Bass Ground. The two clubs amalgamated as Alton Town in 1990 and based themselves at the Bass Ground. The Anstey Park ground wasn’t completely lost, and another club Alton United was formed there as a provider of youth football. The two clubs will merge as Alton FC for next season.
Now beer enthusiasts may remember that it was Interbrew who bought out Bass at the turn of the century, but anti-monopoly legislation saw Interbrew retain the Bass estate, but Coors bought Bass brewing, and so it was they that inherited the Bass Ground. Incidentally in a turn of irony Coors no longer brew Bass beer, the rights are now held by Wolverhampton & Dudley, with the beer for the american market brewed by Anheiser-Busch!
Coors should take credit for what they’ve provided. It would be all too easy for them to have provided something that just fulfills the minimum for Step 6 ground grading, but this goes beyond that, and has done so with some thought. Yes, the stand is “Arena” type, but its been put on a plinth mitagating the worst issue with them, the sightlines. On the far side an original feature, the terracing that used to be under a covered enclosure has been retained and restored, and there are plans to provide shelter here.
But the best feature is undoubtedly the artificial pitch. It was the reason why this game was played after 2 waterlogging postponements at Fareham’s iconic Cams Alders ground. Just because the logical thing to do was to switch the tie, it doesn’t necessarily follow that that is what will follow, so credit to Fareham secretary Paul Proctor for agreeing to the move and for printing out the team sheets. It was also good to see league secretary John Gorman present. It sounds logical that a league official should be out watching two of “his” clubs but I am often saddened on the amount that don’t!
What it didn’t bring Paul and his team was anything remotely resembling luck. A huge accident on the M27 saw his team delayed, reducing their preparation time to virtually nil, and two early Alton goals, saw the visitors look shell-shocked. Alton may play a division below Fareham, but they were good value for their win, and Fareham were classy enough to admit as such.