Sunday 6th October 2019 ko 10.45
Western League Premier Division
BRIDGWATER TOWN 6 (O’Hare 12 33 34 Duffy 27 Tower 83 84)
I sat enjoying my Full English at the Almondsbury Interchange Hotel with mixed feelings. On one hand there was the relief in enough seats having been sold to hire our coach – I really didn’t fancy driving a minibus with the day’s itinerary! On another this was the last day of the last Western Hop, and I and so many still miss the man to came up with the idea- the late Mark Edmonds. But the reality was we had a long journey down to what one hopper described as the Fort William of the Western League.
We headed south and soon saw why Bridport is the league’s outpost. You are in Dorset, and with Portland a short drive east and Axminster due west you’ve got both the Wessex League and the South-West Peninsula League within easy reach. In fact if Bridport were to be relegated I’m sure the SWPL would make for less travel than Western Division 1.
But if in league terms St Mary’s Field is isolated then it certainly didn’t feel that way on our arrival. Put simply the club’s planning and preparation was excellent even down to the much-appreciated teamsheets and the “Groundhoppers’ specials” available in the tea hut.
It was good to see Phil Hiscox there too. Phil was due to organise this year’s Easter Hop in the South West Peninsula League but Easter next year is just about as late as it can be. That means Phil’s league, and the Devon and St Pirran’s leagues below it should have finished by then. So we’ve agreed that as per our agreement, we’ll continue to alternate years, but Phil will host in 2021. We will almost certainly finish the Hellenic League next Easter.
But back to Bridport, and there’s no doubt that if they’d sought advice on how to be great hosts, then a good start would have been to ask their opponents on last year’s hop- Bridgwater Town! They were superb hosts, but the game turned out to be attritional in the extreme, to the point that you could argue that it was only a Bridport dismissal that allowed a goal to be scored.
That certainly wasn’t the case this time round. Bridport were swept away with the most complete away win I’d seen this season at that point. But let’s not dwell too much on that, save to say Bridgwater look a side more than capable of a return to the Southern League, although I’m sure Bradford Town, Plymouth Parkway and a few others will have a strong say in where the championship will head.
But as complete as a dismantlement as this was, I can’t help but frame the day as being anything more than than Bridport’s win. It may not have happened for them on the field of play , but everywhere else they were superb.