Monday, 12 August 2013

Romsey Town v Moneyfields

The entrance to Romsey Town's field of dreams.
The boring bit first (lesson number one in how not to keep the reader engaged here...):

Things I intend to do this season on HAH.

Thing number one: Carry on. I was tempted to stop at the end of last season when I'd visited every club in Hampshire down to level ten in the pyramid, and just relax and watch Pompey, Havant & Waterlooville or Romsey Town this season, depending on who was at home on any particular day, without worrying about writing about the match afterwards. But, it's been fun. And I like fun. So I'll carry on, at least for another season.

Thing number two: Carry on, yes, but how? Well, I'll still feature at least one Hampshire club in each match I write about - possibly two, if they're playing each other. This is Hopping Around Hampshire, after all. However, I may go outside the county to foreign lands, e.g., Wiltshire, Dorset, the Isle of Wight - Here Be Monsters/Cider Drinkers, etc. A little scary, but I'll force myself to do it, so long as a club from my home county is involved.

Comfy chairs inside the covered standing area.
Romsey Town FC (0) 0 v 1 (1) Moneyfields FC
Saturday 10th August 2013
Sydenhams Wessex League Premier Division
Attendance: c50
Admission: £5
Programme: £2
Colours: White / black / black v Yellow / dark blue / dark blue
National Grid reference: SU3520 / SU3521

The committee room and changing rooms (and a tall tree).
Thing number three: I'll try to report on two matches each month, or approximately sixteen over the forty week season. These posts take me a while to write (I usually don't post until Monday or Tuesday following a Saturday match), so I need time off in between reports. I don't get paid to do this, you know.

Thing number four: If I'm visiting a ground that I've written about previously, the report is unlikely to be as long as the first one. There's only so many times I can write about a club's history or describe their ground, after all.

That's enough "things" for now...

Corner for Romsey Town.
The first home league match of the season for Romsey Town. Weather: Sunny with a few clouds. My expectations of winning against Moneyfields: Low to non-existent. After all, Romsey had finished bottom of the Sydenhams Wessex League Premier Division last season, conceding 137 goals in 38 matches. Whilst we were suffering, Moneyfields had finished in a Champions League position.

However, Romsey avoided relegation in April because New Milton Town failed to turn up to Newport on the Isle of Wight for an end of season midweek match. They were deducted three points and finished below Town. A few weeks later, Hayling United were demoted for ground grading reasons - something to do with not having enough hard standing near the corner flags, or something equally ridiculous (from the rumours I've heard, which may well be wrong).

But, it was the first home match of the new season - each new season is a little war, each match a tiny battle within the war. Anyone can win a battle, even if the war is beyond them. There should be hope in every game, but last season, in what the French would call le petit guerre, Romsey played more like petit pois. Each of the opposition's goals were like Rich Uncle Pennybags' illegitimate children - we all knew about them, but we never speak of them these days. Time to forget and move on...

A pleasant day out at The By-Pass Ground.
The fellow on the gate was more hopeful than me, assuring me that the team had improved this season, and that he expected a mid-table finish. Nobody will beat Sholing this year - the side that finished in seventh place in the Southern League First Division South and West last time out has largely stayed together. Big spenders Winchester City and Blackfield & Langley should finish second and third, but Moneyfields could well come fourth, so, having played Sholing away on Tuesday (0-5), this was a tough start for Romsey.

Players don't wear names on their shirts in the Wessex League, so at the beginning of every season it takes a few games to fit unfamiliar faces to unfamiliar names. With a turnover of around fifty players last time out, and me going to watch them about once a month, there appeared to be a new team every time I went to the By-Pass Ground in 2012/13. It should be more settled this season, so I'm hoping to get to know the players by sight a bit quicker.

Romsey Town's Danny Phillips wins a 50/50 ball against Moneyfields.
Romsey's best player on Saturday was Danny Phillips, cutting through Moneyfields' defence like a hyperactive buzzsaw, he came closest to scoring for Romsey in the first half with a fizzbomb of a shot from outside the area. But the home team were already a goal down by that point. In fact, as players around the country were awaiting the ref's whistle to kick-off at 3pm, Romsey were already losing...

Starting the match at 2:59, Moneyfields broke down their right, there was a panic in the Romsey penalty area, and right-back Robert Evans daisycutted the ball in left-footed from twelve yards. I feared a tonking, as I'd seen so many last season, but it never came. Romsey were second-best for sure, but Moneyfields never scored again - ex-Town player Stuart Green came closest when missing the barn door from sixteen yards after 20 minutes.

The second half was more even. Romsey nearly equalised near the end when a screamer from substitute Geoff Dunn was superbly clawed out of the top corner by Moneys' netminder Dave "The Cat" Hook. But there were no more goals

Goalmouth action beneath the poplars.
When I first went to the By-Pass Ground, to be honest, it was quite a run-down place, paint peeling from every surface, molehills and weeds everywhere. The clubhouse was dark and unappealing - but since then the volunteers at the club have done a superb job - the clubhouse has been decorated, the committee room portakabin has had a lick of paint, and a metal fence has been erected around the open areas of the ground (possibly for ground grading purposes, but it feels more like a proper football ground now it's been partly enclosed).

At the far end, it appears as though a roof might be going up behind the goal, which will be an excellent addition to the ground. In my dreams, I can hear the Romsey Town Barmy Army gathering behind the goal, a Jolly Roger banner with RTFC embriodered upon it hanging from the back of the covered area, singing their hearts out for the lads every time we win a corner.

The future looks good at Romsey. The team are better, the ground has improved. Big thumbs up from me. I'll be back several more times this season, but don't expect any more reports - these will be my "days off"!

Some tasty-looking berries for the birds this autumn in the fast beak area.
In final HAH news, if you scroll to the bottom of the page, you'll be able to listen to the same music as I was listening to when I was writing this report (or any other report), through This Is My Jam. If you know me, you'll know it'll be punk, indiepop or reggae most days. I intend to post a new song whenever I remember to do so! Listen whilst you read (if you want to). Or ignore and move on. Today's tune is Northern Soul classic Let's Go Baby (Where the Action Is) by Robert Parker (because it reminds me of early season optimism at the football). When I'm king, every club will enter the field of play to this tune. Tomorrow it might be White by The Field Mice (the colour of Romsey and Havant & Waterlooville's shirts). Or I may change my mind.

The next match report will be in early September.


  1. When I watched Eastleigh regularly a few seasons ago I was surprised by how high the player-turnover was at lower levels. It's almost like Neighbours in that if you son't watch it for a few months when you see it again it's so different (give-or-take the odd long-standing character) that it takes a while to get back into the story-line.

    Incidentally most of that Eastleigh side are now at Gosport Borough.

  2. I meant to expand more on that paragraph, but I got distracted by one of my cats jumping in front of the screen...

    It's hard enough watching Pompey, and they have names on their backs - they must have had a hundred different players over the last 3 seasons or so! I'm hoping they're more settled now. Ditto Romsey Town (most of their successful team from two seasons ago went to New Milton or Blackfield - it's been a long haul gelling another complete group together).

  3. Andrew, how about a trip to the Hampshire club Hartley Wintney this Tuesday 20th. They have an FA Cup replay against Oxfordshire club Kidlington FC?

  4. Good report! I missed this game so good to catch up on here. Just one thing though, Brad Snelling is Romsey's goalkeeper, not Moneyfields.

  5. Hi Jet and Cam. Apologies for the lateness of my reply, but I've been away on holiday for the past fortnight.

    Due to holiday and the Southsea Fest on 14th September, I decided not to write about the FA Cup this season. Otherwise, I would certainly have been tempted by Hartley Wintney's tie. I'm going to try and follow the Vase instead, starting next Saturday.

    Cam, well spotted - that was a silly mistake. I've put it right now! Romsey played pretty well against Moneys - I'm surprised they haven't won a game yet :-/