|Night-time in Brockenhurst. Mmmm, IPA!|
Well, Brusher Mills was the celebrated snake catcher of the New Forest in the latter half of the 19th century. He lived on his own in a cone-shaped hut in the forest, catching snakes with his snake tongs and selling them to scientists to help cure gout and suchlike. He enjoyed his bread and cheese and a pint at The Railway Inn at Brockenhurst (which was the main reason we celebrated him - he was just like us - except he caught snakes!). After his hut was burned down by the authorities (boo!), his health deteriated, and he died in the outhouses of what was to become The Snakecatcher (named in his honour) after enjoying one last pint and a pickle, on July 1st 1905.
My group of ne'er-do-wells did get a little drunk on Brusher's Day. One year, we went to visit his grave at midnight to recite Brusher's Prayer ("Our Brusher, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy snake staff..."). One of our number was so overcome with emotion that he lay down beside the great man's grave and fell asleep. Young and stupid indeed!
The fact that Brockenhurst were playing on a Friday evening was the perfect excuse to go back to the village and enjoy a pint or two at The Snakecatcher.
Oh yes...and to watch a game of football!
|My hero, Brusher Mills.|
Brockenhurst FC (0) 0 v 5 (2) Bournemouth FC
Friday 25th March 2011
Sydenham's Wessex League Premier Division
Entrance price: £6, including good quality programme.
Club shop: No
National Grid reference: SU2902 / SU3002
Subbuteo colours: 51 v 41
|A French badger in bovver boots! Found at the back of the stand. Possibly used to stand outside a French restaurant in the village.|
"...Without being rude, we were not facing Messi and co at the Nou Camp, but Laverstock & Ford. We endured forty minutes of average fare, followed by fifty minutes of utter rubbish..." Ouch!
Unfortunately, it was to be another difficult evening for The Badgers.
|Brockenhurst's frog-eyed tractor. He looks like a character from Bob The Builder.|
* I believe the oldest Hampshire club may now be Fordingbridge Turks, but this may not be the case. Brading Town on the Isle of Wight are four years older than the Poppies, and were thus the oldest club before the boundary moves.
|Poppies take a corner under the Brockenhurst floodlights.|
The photo below is surely proof of the existence of ghosts - that cannot possibly be Bournemouth's keeper taking a goal-kick? Can it?
|Poppies' ghostly gazelle-like keeper at Brockenhurst.|
It really was men against boys, or less clichéed perhaps, and in honour of Brusher, wild deadly cobras versus docile pet corn snakes. It took a while, but when the scales tipped towards the Poppies and the goals started, they arrived with the regularity and precision of the atomic clock.
Goal 1...a Poppies forward slithered through the Badgers' defence and cold-bloodedly slotted the ball beneath the advancing keeper.
Goal 2...a hissing header which strangled the life out of the Badgers.
Half-time arrived. The Poppies had been just like a hungry anaconda hiding beneath a gigantic lily pad in a South American marsh, waiting for a thirsty coypu to come trotting along for a drink. In other words, the result was inevitable. Poor old coypu.
|Brockenhurst's impressive stand.|
What with the pre-match beers and the half-time gingery tipple, the second half is as blurry in my memory as my action photos, so remembering the Poppies' three second-half goals in detail is beyond me. However, there is a proper match report here. I do remember one unstoppable venomous strike, and I do know that the Poppies' impressive number 9, Matt Kemble, scored a hat-trick. You're probably sick of all the dreadful snakey puns and analogies by now though...
5-0 to the Poppies. we got a thumbs-up from one of their players as they left the pitch. I took several photos of the old tractor in the far corner of the ground, then it was time for a couple more pints in The Snakecatcher before catching the train home.
|A Poppies player is giving the thumbs-up as the players troop off the pitch.|
Rest in peace Brusher, and fangs for the memories.
Next time: off to the north-east of the county...