Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Stockbridge FC

2014 storm damage at Stockbridge FC.
I'm in the middle of a three week break from Saturday football, so instead of a match report, it's time to show a few photos from Stockbridge FC.

Stocky recently resigned from the Wessex League. They've had no luck over the last couple of years. Firstly, they were threatened with league expulsion due to their dressing rooms not being large enough - the logical result of all these extra substitutes that leagues allow these days (see also the necessity to increase the size of dugouts and the subsequent near-disappearance of quirky, handmade dugouts in favour of the cheaper, larger, ready-made plastic variety).

So, they raised several thousand pounds to build new dressing rooms. They're nearly ready for use, as you can see in the photo below.

The new dressing rooms at Stockbridge FC.
Then, in the autumn, the manager walked out and took all the players with him. Stocky had to postpone a few games until they were able to get a new squad together. Fine, no problem. Lots of hassle, but they could have carried on after a short break.

One of the ladders substitutes use to help collect stray footballs from the overflowing River Test behind the pitch.
Then came this winter's storms...

The village of Stockbridge lies alongside the River Test. It doesn't normally overflow, but with three successive months of rainfall over 200% above average, there was nowhere else for the river to go but over the top. Stockbridge became one of many towns and villages that spent a month or two under water in early 2014. Sandbags everywhere. Fish swimming along the high street. Coracles instead of Land Rangers. You get the picture.

One of Stockbridge's many rollers.
Stocky's recreation ground pitch was a lake for weeks on end. When I visited to take photos on the way back from Andover on March 1st, it hadn't rained for a fortnight, but there were still puddles all over the field. You would still have needed flippers and snorkels to play football on that pitch. Such a match would have made a brilliant programme for the defunct Nuts TV if people had somehow gotten fed up with their late-night Car Football show (actual cars playing actual football - I didn't imagine that, did I?).

Some more rusty equipment.
With over half the season's fixtures still to play with less than ten weeks of the season left, and no prospect of playing a home game until mid-March at the earliest, Stockbridge FC decided to resign from the league. They'll be back next season, probably in the Hampshire Premier League (the step below the Wessex). They deserve a break from their dismal run of luck.

In the absence of Spiky, my new favourite roller at the recreation ground.
I could have run an end of season roller round-up from Stockbridge alone - there is so much rusting groundsman's equipment lying around the place - but I think I already have enough from other grounds for the next instalment in May or June. Hence the mini-parade featured here. My old favourite, Spiky the Sonic The Hedgehog lookalike was missing when I visited, possibly crushed by the fallen tree in the top picture. RIP Spiky if you were a victim of the storms.

And here's another one!
Stocky aren't the only local club to have had problems with the weather this winter. The picture below is of AFC Portchester's new terrace roof, which I assume was blown over in the hurricane-force winds which struck The Solent area in mid-February. The falling roof appears to have wrecked the side of their hospitality building - I think you can just about see the damage to the building in the picture below.

The storm-damaged terrace roof at AFC Portchester.
I hope to be back to match reporting on April 5th, family commitments, illness, weather, etc, notwithstanding.

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