|The award-winning badge of Cove FC.|
|Harry the Hawk presents a fine selection of condiments at Havant & Waterlooville.|
|More tea bar essentials at Blackfield & Langley.|
Each of these matches was intense, with the potential rewards for the winners becoming gradually more and more exciting - the game at Whitchurch, in particular, was gripping, as the village team matched their big city opponents from four levels higher in the pyramid for a large portion of the tie. In front of a crowd of 400, it was their biggest match in decades. Literally half the village turned out to watch, and with the Gloucester City drummer making a racket throughout the match, the atmosphere was that of a small-scale Fratton Park. Add to this mix the fact that it was the hottest October day on record, and that Whitchurch have a characterful old stand (which was full for the first time in years), then the award for my personal Match of the Season 2011/2012 goes to Whitchurch United v Gloucester City!
|Tigers TV filming the Whitchurch United v Gloucester City FA Cup tie.|
The sort of new awards I was considering were Best Cup Of Tea and Best Half-Time Snack (which would have gone to GE Hamble and Bashley respectively), Best Selection Of Ketchups And Other Condiments (a tough call between Blackfield & Langley and Havant & Waterlooville, as you can see from the photos), Most Club Crests On Display (Cove, by quite some distance!), and Best Bench Seats (Hythe & Dibden).
As it happens, Cove's badge has already won an award for Non-League Club Badge Of The Year (1990), so they're obviously proud of the design. They don't need my silly virtual award, and neither do any of the other clubs.
|Bench seats at Hythe & Dibden FC.|
Instead, the award will go to one of the programmes from Step 3, 5 or 6 of the National League System. These are all programmes that are produced by volunteers. Some are a labour of love, others are published only because the leagues demand it in their rules. I do have a lot of sympathy with the latter group of clubs when they are told to publish programmes, despite the fact that they might only sell half a dozen on a match day - there are so many jobs to do around a club to keep it functioning, it's not surprising that writing fresh material for a programme every other week comes low down on their priorities (see also keeping websites up to date).
The best programmes are produced by people that enjoy the task - the pleasure they get out of seeing their hard work turned in to a little magazine going on sale every other week must be quite cockle-warming. I'm guessing that most programme editors are either retired or have grown-up children and thus some time on their hands to devote to the job.
At the other end of the age scale, it would also be a great job for someone at college studying sports journalism - what an excellent addition to a CV being a programme editor would be! If you're a journalism student reading this, contact your local non-league club right now! They'd love to have you help out.
- Well-written manager's notes
- Information about Bashley
- Hartley look-a-likes (did you know that Garth Crooks, Dr Evil and Moe Szyslak all play for Hartley Wintney?)
- Round-ups from the first team, reserves and youth team
- Two player profiles
- A pair of Guess Whos (photos of players when they were younger)
- A think-piece by the editor
- A photo caption quiz
- Highlights from the club forum
You can view an online copy of Hartley Wintney's programme here, on their excellent website.
|Curiouser and curiouser...|
But the one thing I've come back to again and again (and I've had sleepless nights trying to work this out) is the list of goalscorers (see above). Consider that Hythe & Dibden had scored 40 league goals up until this match, and that this was presumably their complete list of scorers...
...well, they don't add up. Assuming the smiley faces each count as one goal, whatever round number the explosions are meant to represent (and I've tried the obvious 5 and 10), they just don't add up to 40. Unless each explosion counts as 7 goals? But that can't be right!
Where do those nights of sleep go to when they do not come to me? Only kidding, of course.
That's 2011/2012 over and done with. There'll be four Hampshire Top Twenty tables over the rest of the summer, then the match reports will begin again in August - there should be seventeen in all next season.
I hope you enjoyed your tea!