Sunday 9th October 2016 ko 11.00
Western League Division One
CHARD TOWN 2 (Boyland 72 Friend 88)
BISHOPS LYDEARD 3 (Clunnie 50 Ryder Brereton 76)
For me, this was the day when Zembard Lane’s famous slope ceased to define Chard Town. Yes, I know from many it’s the first feature you think of, and judging by the FA’s attempts to remove them from Pyramid Football they haven’t had my epiphany. But I do wonder how many of the club’s tormentors have actually paid the place a visit?
Why would anyone want to force a perfectly successful club from Step 6 to the wilderness of the Taunton & District League? Or to quote Alexander Pope, “Who would a break a butterfly upon a wheel?” The club blame Plymouth Parkway, who played here in an FA Vase game in 2011, and apparently didn’t like what they saw and complained to the FA. But the odd bit was the score, Parkway won 11-0! I wonder if all the goals were scored uphill?
But after all that’s been said and done, GroundhopUK’s visit proved one thing, it was that Chard can cope with a crowd. Actually let’s rephrase that, Chard managed to make friends out of every single visitor. The pressure from above may be immense but you wouldn’t have known it here. That pressure, isn’t by the way, coming from the league. The League loses 5% of its FA development funding for each club that ‘s doesn’t fulfill ground grading but the clubs have to a member voted to support one of their own.
Like many there, this was Bishops Lydeard’s first visit to Zembard Lane. They had the advantage, unlike their hosts of a well bedded-in side. Chard finished 3rd last season, Lydeard won the Somerset County League, but when the FA forbids you from being promoted, it’s difficult to keep a good side together. Most of Chard’s team from last season are now at Bridport, so a new side has had to have been found, built around former Gillingham Town and Wincanton Town forward Taoufix “Benjani” Ben Salem.
They fought, and Ben Salem’s temper was for the most part kept under control, but Lydeard were the deserved winners. For even the beautiful butterfly can’t always have things its own way.
There is hope for Chard, a local school has an old artificial surface that needs replacing, so a community stadium could offer an excellent solution for all parties. From my perspective anything that helps friendly, outward-looking Chard cannot be a bad thing.