, , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday 8th February 2022 ko 19.45

Southern Combination Division One

SELSEY 2 (Alman 42 Higgins-Pearce 73)

ARUNDEL 1 (Hawkins 90)

Att 156

Entry £5

Programme Free, online/downloadable

It really wasn’t the plan to make this season all about what I still think of as the Sussex County League. The reality is that 2,300 grounds plus into this groundhopping odyssey I am rapidly running out of opportunities within a 2 hour radius of work. Then there’s a tactical element too; with my GroundhopUK hat on I’m less likely to visit grounds in leagues I’m likely to be couriering a coachload of hoppers to! And for what little its worth we did have a brief chat with the Southern Combination a couple of years ago but at committee level there seemed to be little interest in a organised groundhop. 

I look at my lack of midweek opportunity as being a victim of my own success, and that has been delayed over the years deliberately my targeting the unlit and far-flung grounds on Saturdays- why do a ground with lights on a Saturday when you can do them midweek making use of those lights? That policy has delayed this point by about 1,000 grounds or roughly 10 years if you ignore the impact the pandemic has had. If you’re just starting out groundhopping, it is a tactic I’d highly recommend.

Now I know why it took me this long to get to Selsey- I’d planned the route and reckoned that if the traffic behaved I’d be parking up right on kick-off. So with rush hour traffic to be fought on the M25 and the A3 what do you think happened? Yes, I got there half an hour early and even had time to find something to eat before heading over to the ground.  The next bit some may find controversial….

One of the reasons I could walk in so close to kick off was I knew the programme was online only. On organised hops I watch hoppers dash between games so as to to the next ground early to avoid missing out on a programme. Yes, its a classic case of OCD, and for the record I regard a printed programme as something I’d like to have but it isn’t a prerequisite for me being there, or even the first consideration it seems to be for some. And sat outside the ground eating my meal it dawned on me; the programme was in unlimited supply, anyone who wanted one could get one, and it was free. I finished my meal and strolled in as the teams came out….

Some will see Selsey as being about Selsey Bill, the very tip of the peninsula south of Chichester. To this day the only way here by road is via Sidlesham (now there’s a project) over “The Ferry” bridge. Others will see here as a holiday destination, although the Pontins at Broadreeds closed in 1987, and the wrought iron gates are now to be found at the football ground, just look to the left of the main entrance. 

The ground is easy to miss even if the “High Street Ground” does give you a clue! The trick is to aim for the Fire Station, and the turning into the Co-op car park. Don’t use the supermarket car park, it’s time limited, and you’ll find the football car park just beyond it. 

The ground is one of the more characterful in the league, and not just for that wonderful stand, built in 1962. Its a place of nooks and crannies and yes you can queue up for your cheesy chips (highly recommended) and still watch the game.

In footballing terms I will always associate Selsey with the Hinshelwood family. Danny Hinshelwood had two spells in charge and his cousin Adam managed here too. Adam’s father Paul played with distinction at both Crystal Palace and Oxford United. Sadly Paul died recently at the age of 65. Martin’s son Marc, and Danny’s brother Scott also have played here. Clearly an involvement at Selsey is something of a family tradition so I checked FA Full Time and Fynn-Lee Hinshelwood plays here, mainly for the Under-23 team. He’s part of quite a tradition!

I did feel a little sorry for visitors Arundel who are struggling this season. In these parts the difference between Divisions 1 and 2 is massive, as its moving from senior to intermediate football. Back in the days of the County League clubs knew what they were playing for-  two down assuming 2 clubs from intermediate football had the ground grading. Now there’s the added peril of a club being shunted laterally from the Combined Counties, little wonder Arundel are a little nervous. 

And this game was a case in point, from their perspective anyway. There wasn’t much in it, all three goals came from set-plays after all, but Selsey prevailed so Arundel’s nerves will continue to jangle. I reckon they’ll find enough to stay up, and I hope that wonderful backdrop there will continue to grace Step 6. 

But in a cold Tuesday night this was unquestionably Selsey’s day. They were the better side, and as a football fan sometimes all you need is a game, some cheesy chips and a Bovril on a cold night. This was one of those evenings, even if I did need a restorative coffee from the Co-op afterwards before heading for home!