|A blue sky welcome to Petersfield Town FC.|
The hapless Jockey was there too, so-called because he had a bald patch that looked like a jockey's cap, but he couldn't trap a ball for toffee. It was Mantis that ruled the pitch, as tall and as gangly as Peter Crouch, but with a better knowledge of the Table of Elements. Was there nothing that Mantis couldn't do?
As well as me in the crowd that day, there may well have been the only boy that has gone on to be relatively well-known to the outside world: Simon Ings. I remember him wicket keeping and getting whacked in the face with a cricket ball once. There may have been a broken nose. There was certainly a lot of blood. He's moved on from this incident since.
|Petersfield Town's old wooden stand.|
Petersfield Town FC (2) 4 v 0 (0) Stockbridge FC
Saturday 20th April 2013
Sydenhams Wessex League Division One
Attendance: 29 (headcount)
Club shop: No
Colours: Red and black stripes / black / black v Blue and yellow stripes / blue / blue
National Grid reference: SU7523
|Inside the stand.|
The old stand was built by the supporters' club in 1962. There's the odd hole here and there, and it looks a little weatherworn, but so what? In this setting, nuzzling up to the pitch barrier at the bottom of the slope, framed by mature oaks, it looks like a much-treasured antique, as desirable to anyone who loves old football grounds as a hundred year old Steiff bear with a glass eye missing would be to a teddy bear collector. It's a lovable grandad of a stand, full of character, ready to tell you a tall story or two about the time that Petersfield won the FA Cup in 1932.
Opposite the stand is another home-made piece of cover, built at a crazy angle (see below), stanchions attached to the pitchside barrier. This lies in between the dugouts and the relatively modern clubhouse, built in 1980. Inside the clubhouse, there is a bar and a tea hatch. On the walls are photos of old Brylcreemed and bequiffed team line-ups from the 1950s and 1960s.
And with three rollers dotted around the ground, what's not to love about Love Lane?
|The other home-made covered area at Petersfield Town. And no, I didn't tilt my camera!|
No comment on the heightened skill levels, but using a tennis ball was a good excuse to hack at the other kids' legs whilst pretending to tackle them. So many bruises, so much pain, so many muddy knees, so many despairing mothers...
One day, Morgan got booted over the hedge at the bottom of the school fields (more likely a sliced goal effort going out for what would have been a throw-in). Slithering down the muddy bank to the road below, it was normally fairly easy to locate Morgan, but on this sad occasion, he was nowhere to be found.
Perhaps he ended up in the football ground? It would have been a fitting final resting place for one so important in the development of our national game - after all, eight of the boys playing that fateful breaktime went on to become full-time professionals at a host of top clubs around the world.*
*No, they didn't. This is a lie.
|The stern Victorian school building looks down disapprovingly on the oiks playing association football.|
Anyway, this reminds me: in my line of work, I get to see plenty of aerial photographs in 3-D. Over the last year or two, I've been digging out photos of as many grounds in Hampshire as I could find, and been measuring their slopes. I can now reveal the most slopy grounds in Hampshire, with accurate measurements!
|Groundhoppers viewing the action from the old stand.|
Several grounds have slopes of less than a metre, which is imperceptible to the naked eye. Amongst these are Winchester City (30cm), Pompey (a 30cm concave hump in the middle stretching the length of the pitch, which is noticeable from certain angles), Fareham Town and Moneyfields (both 50cm).
There are slopes of a metre or more at Sholing and Blackfield & Langley (both 1.0m), AFC Portchester (1.1m), and, becoming more obvious at 1.5m, Havant & Waterlooville.
The following five have the biggest slopes that I've been able to measure:*
Andover New Street 1.9m (corner to opposite corner)
Alresford Town, also 1.9m (side to side)
Hythe & Dibden 3.3m (end to end - approximately 10.5 feet in old money)
Petersfield Town 3.8m (clubhouse to opposite corner - over 12 feet)
Horndean, a vertigo-inducing 4.7m (corner to opposite corner - 15 and a half feet)
*I've not had access to stereo photography for Whitchurch United, Hartley Wintney or Fleet Town yet, all of whom have conspicuous slopes. Whitchurch and Fleet Town, in particular, must both be at least 2.5m. I've been able to accurately measure 24 of the 41 pitches that I've visited.
|Callum Coker stands ready to poke home Petersfield's third goal.|
The third was scored after an hour or so, Callum Coker slotting in his 36th (or 37th - he may have scored the first...) of the season. The fourth came a minute from the end - the third tap-in of the game.
Stocky kept going. As their captain reminded them at 3-0 down, "Come on lads, we're playing for our cup final places in two weeks here!" Stockbridge play Andover New Street in the Andover Open Cup Final in a fortnight. This is not a tall story.
Petersfield Town look likely to finish fifth, a respectable position indeed, and their best for four years. They'll be happy with that.
Coincidentally, my fellow blogger, The Onion Bag, was also at this match. We didn't speak to one another, as we had no idea who the other was! His report is here. His photos are here.
|Top secret tactics board inside Petersfield's dugout.|
Now, do I carry on, or do I stop right here?