AEK Boco, Bristol, England, Football, Gloucestershire County League, Greenbank, groundhopping, Henbury, Non League
Saturday 28th December 2019 ko 14.00
Gloucestershire County League
AEK BOCO 5 (Slocombe 45 52 80 90 Thier 89)
HENBURY 0 Heal sent off (2nd booking) 49
Bristol, just like Nicosia is a divided city, and the second Robyn and I started seeing each other part of the fun was seeing just how divided it is. Of course Bristol’s divide is on purely footballing terms, the green line in Nicosia separates Greek from Turkish Cyprus. In Bristol the line is blue…..
Blue that is in the sense that the line is the River Avon. North of it is Bristol Rovers, south is Bristol City territory. By and large the rule does hold, and you immediately wonder why City are by far the bigger club when by far the greater percentage of Bristol lies north of the Avon? The answer is that Bristol City’s hinterland lies in North Somerset. They play “Drink Up Thee Zider” before every game for a reason!
But what has this to do with an oddly named team? Well, AEK Boco play in Kingswood which is north of the Avon but roughly equidistant between Ashton Gate and the Memorial Stadium. I parked up and wondered whether I’d hear the locals talk Rovers or City?
The unusual name comes from a merger of two unusually named clubs. Boco Boys were formed in 1978 by Bob Boyd and were named after the Argentinian side Boca Juniors, I assume the “A” became an “O” in a quirk of translation. Their most famous discovery was local lad Julian Dicks, who was signed by Birmingham City and went on to play for West Ham United. They merged with AEK Rangers in 2003, who’d been named after AEK-Athens apparently after a manager went to Greece for his holidays, saw the team name and liked what he saw! I assume he saw them at the Nicos Goumas Stadium rather than the Spyros Louis Stadium that I saw them at. I’m not sure the new ground would have been memorable enough to use their name!
But Bob Boyd was a former director of Bristol City, he was on the board in 1982 at the time of the “Ashton Gate Eight” when 8 players tore up their contracts to help save the club from bankruptcy. Was I watching a club with City connections in Gas territory?
The answer of course is that the club may have connections to both City and Rovers, scouts from the Memorial Ground are involved here, but the ethos at Greenbank is to encourage development, to whoever and wherever that may lead. Its all rather refreshing, and for the record I heard both City and Rovers’ fortunes being discussed!
A trip to Greenbank is a vibrant experience even if the club has only been playing Gloucestershire County League football since 2014, you may remember me seeing them play a friendly on the lower pitch back then. You could easily see the ground as little more than a railed off pitch with a little cover courtesy of the overhang of the clubhouse. But look beyond that, at the buzz about the place, and the youth work going on in the background, as that is far more important.
I doubt whether the adult male side could play any further up the pyramid based here, this is a residential area and the the ground gradings kick-in in earnest once you rise to Western League level; you’d think the club would seek a groundshare while maintaining everything else back here.
They played another side close to the Avon, Henbury and it was a lot warmer when I saw them at Arnall Drive! Here the game could and probably should have been a hard fought affair, but Heal’s volley of verbals saw him firstly sin-binned, then when he continued to chunter at the referee as he departed he quickly received his second yellow.
In a sense I hope Boco’s Slocombe sought him out afterwards to thank him for his contribution because without him Henbury utterly collapsed with the forward collecting three of his four goals against a depleted defence. It was cold, it was wet, and I was exhausted having watched Framlingham Town the previous evening but it was excellent entertainment.
In fact the only issue I had was when that evening when Robyn and I visited friends Amy and Will that evening my boots were rather muddy! I hope they didn’t mind my stocking’ed feet!
Dedicated to the memory of Mishi Morath. Activist, Dulwich Hamlet committeeman, and supporter, Streatham Redskins and London Skolars fan and friend to so many. Rest in peace my friend.