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Saturday 10th March 2018 ko 15.00

Dorset Premier League

BLANDFORD UNITED 4 (Culliford 12 Linford 50 Ford 80 90)

WAREHAM RANGERS 1 (Collings 10)

Att c30

Entry- By Donation

Blandford Forum really is the quintessential market town. Even the suffix “Forum” is derived from the Latin word for market. Even in these busier, more connected times, you feel that if you’re visiting Weymouth, Dorchester or Blackmore Vale, you’ll pass through here.

That said, the feel of the place is unquestionably Georgian; the town was virtually rebuilt after a fire in 1731. For me the centrepiece is the Classical church of St Peter and Paul with it’s distinctive wooden cupula and golden weather-vane. It evokes times past although the train no longer trundles its way here from Bath en route to Bournemouth. The line was lost in 1966 under the Beeching axe, and the cutting behind the football ground is now a footpath and cycle route called the trailway. It all feels as rural and genteel as the town.

Blandford United play at the recreation ground, in so many ways the classic football/cricket/ dog walking facility. What sets the place apart, other than the backdrop is the quality of the facilities enjoyed by the football club. Put simply, the clubhouse is huge and extremely well-appointed, to the extent that there was far more space available than the 30 or so watching the game. The club are clearly extremely proud of their new clubhouse, to the extent that every time a table, or chair was used, it was tidied! It was, on reflection, lovely to see a sense of pride in one’s area.

You could understand why the attendance was low- so much football had been washed out by the rain. It was a question of consult The Football Traveller, interrogate the websites, and study social media. Thank heaven for those 3 media, I’m old enough to remember when a groundhopper reached a railway station, bought a local paper and headed for the phonebox to use endless 5p’s checking games’ status!

It may have been one of only a  few games in the area, but the pitch held up well, and made for an engrossing game. Wareham are struggling this season, but put up a spirited show here. Ultimately their resistance was worn away by the introduction of Mark Ford. His appearance was merely a cameo, but the former Wimborne and Weymouth took the game away from the visitors and on another day could and probably would have collected a hat trick.

As is the risk for a game in a park, we got that cliche of the grassroots game, a dog on the pitch. It gave everyone a moment’s levity, and I suspect for Wareham it was a respite from their travails. In the end, for Blandford the win helped them to stop them looking over their own shoulders. Such is the impact of a proven striker.

I walked, or is that squelched my way back to the car, parked up by the trailway. I turned on the radio, winced at my own club’s result before allowing myself an inward smile at where I’d been. That sense of pride in your area is endearing.