Tuesday 14th August 2018 ko 19.45
Wessex League Division One
DOWNTON 2 (Hooper 67 Prentice 78)
TOTTON & ELING 1 (Gain 58)
Entry & Programme £5
There are no end of settlements called Downton, in fact there are at least two in the Wessex League’s footprint. This Downton is a pretty as a picture village in South Wiltshire, the nearest city is Salisbury and you pass by several military bases, to get here, Porton Down being probably the most well-known. Downton is also remembered as being the village that managed to elect an MP without the candidate knowing!
It happened because Downton used to be a Pocket Borough in the late 18th and early 19th centuries- only around 100 properties elected 2 MP’s, and all of those were owned by the Earl of Radnor. So when in 1826 the Earl decided he wanted Poet Laureate Robert Southey as an MP, he nominated him, and with no opposition he was duly elected! Radnor had managed though to fail to do one small thing, he didn’t actually ask Mr Southey! And when Southey did discover what had happened, he decided he didn’t actually want to be an MP and it proved to be a rather complicated matter for him to resign!
The village these days is a quiet well-to-do place on the main road south. Robyn and I turned right and picked our way along Wick Lane and soon arrived at the Brian Whitehead Sports Ground. It’s a multi-sport venue with football at its heart, and as we found a spot in the car park, I wondered how I’d feel about the place.
On one hand this would finish off the Wessex League for me, which was never an aim. I do like the idea of having something everywhere left to visit. Then there was also the failed attempt at a Wessex League Hop a few years ago. I couldn’t remember (and still can’t ) whether Downton were at the fateful clubs’ meeting back then at the venue that used to be BAT Sports home. In the end the proposed Wessex Hop became the Western Hop, and that event now has 2 years left to run. The fact that I got asked why I’ve not organised a Wessex hop at my final ground of the league did produce a rueful smile..
But this was an evening to enjoy both an interesting ground and a notably friendly club, whose company I greatly enjoyed. The game was a curiousity – the game was scheduled to take place at Totton & Eling’s Little Testwood Park but the scorching summer had left the pitch unplayable so the game was switched here.
Now I’m well used to jinxing friendly clubs, god knows Splodge hates the sight of me at anywhere Fareham are playing but in this occasion Downton found it within themselves to overhaul a goal’s deficit to deservedly win the game.
So that’s the Wessex League complete, or complete until a new club joins. Inevitably there’ll be a revisit or two, not least because Robyn wants to visit Fareham Town! But whatever my future is with the Wessex League I”l remember where I first finished the league with some fondness. Downton really are a lovely club.