Saturday 21st July 2018 ko 15.00
GORLESTON 3 (Gilfedder 13 45 Ramm 21)
LOWESTOFT TOWN 4 (Brown 9 12 Overy 46 Folkes 54)
My regular reader my have spotted a running theme of me gradually ticking off the grounds of the Eastern Counties League. Part of the reason is prioritising those Leagues not being visited by an organised hop, and another is regular trips with Wavendon- based Chris. His location near Milton Keynes makes heading east sensible, but there is the vexed question of what to do about the grounds he’s done that I haven’t. One was Gorleston, and with him being unavailable I simply picked the furthest one east!
There was the added bonus of the visitors being Lowestoft Town. I hold Bungay Town chairman Shaun Cole in the highest regard and since he used to be Lowestoft chair too there was a part of me that wanted to give them a cheer on his behalf.
Gorleston-on-Sea lies just south of Great Yarmouth, in Norfolk, but until 1835 was in Suffolk. Like its twin to the north of the River Yare it grew up around the herring industry, then when that tailed off, a holiday resort.
Emerald Park is one of those most unusual of grounds in that it manages to be both a relatively new-build (1983) and still managing to have plenty of quirks to keep the groundhopper happy. It was clearly built with progress in mind, there’s cover in all 4 sides and enough facilities should a tilt at the Isthmian League be both fancied and attained.
That wasn’t a given from the Eastern Counties League until 2009 when Lowestoft made the jump up and in doing so opened up the floodgates for every champion since. Lowestoft made it all the way to the National League North, before financial problems saw them relegated back to the Isthmian League.
If this was to be a friendly Eastern Counties League reunion, then the script certainly wasn’t read by the players. Put simply if I see a better game this season then I’ll be very pleasantly surprised. Lowestoft raced into an early two-goal lead but were quickly pegged back to parity. Then in the last seconds before half-time Gorleston got a free kick just outside of the Lowestoft box. I was half way to leaving for the barbecue, but somehow knew what was going to happen next, and smiled as Ross Gilfedder’s delicious curving, teasing free kick sailed into the top left hand corner.
The second half started as the first had finished. Cole Overy had come on for Lowestoft during the break and Jacek Zelonka’s glorious cross found him unmarked at the back post and he tapped home with his first touch of the ball. The truth of it was that neither side deserved to lose, so Ben Folkes winner was a little harsh on Gorleston even if home keeper Tom Coombe was kept busy as the match wound down.
It was an odd day for me, its been quite a time since I did an Eastern Counties game solo, but as I attacked the 3 hour drive I inwardly remarked it was a satisfying one. I’ll look forward to a little company next time though!