Sunday, 28 May 2017

Fordingbridge Turks v Vimoutiers

Friendship between twin towns Fordingbridge and Vimoutiers.
Fordingbridge Turks are the oldest football club in Hampshire still in existence. As the game as we know it was invented in the UK, this makes them one of the oldest association football clubs in the whole wide world. The oldest known record of them playing comes from 1868, just nine years after Sheffield FC, the world's very first football club, were formed.

The Turks are so-called because the founders of the club admired the fighting spirit of the Ottoman forces defending the besieged city of Plevna (now known as Pleven, in Bulgaria) during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. The club are reasonably well-known in Turkey and play with the Turkish crescent and star as their crest.

I was always going to feature them at some point on here, and an unexpected opportunity to do so arose on Saturday, when I heard they were playing a game against their French twin town, Vimoutiers (from Normandy).

The Turks are on the verge of celebrating their 150th anniversary, and they were also showing off their smart new dugouts. So why not pop along? The weather was good, the town itself is rather lovely, and there's no more competitive football locally until August. Oh, and there was a special programme being printed AND there were pies for sale at half-time!

Go on then!

Here's a few words and pictures from Saturday's game...

The clubhouse and changing room block at Fordingbridge Turks.
Fordingbridge Turks FC (5) 7 v 1 (0) Vimoutiers FC
Saturday 27th May 2017
Bailey Cup
Attendance: Varied between 60 and 80
Admission: None
Programme: £1.50 (very informative and colourful)
Colours: Blue and black stripes / black / black v Yellow and black stripes / black / black
National Grid reference: SU1413

Brand new dugouts with the club crest proudly painted on the back.
The Turks and Vimoutiers FC were playing for the Bailey Cup - a trophy which can only be won by either of these two clubs, as it was donated by the founder of the twinning scheme, Dennis Bailey, as a gesture of sporting friendship. The two towns were twinned 35 years ago. There were quite a few visitors from France in Fordingbridge over this weekend, no doubt enjoying the food, wine, and friendly chit-chat on offer from their hosts.

A copy of the Basingstoke Cup.
Another trophy on show was a copy of the Basingstoke Cup, which the Turks won outright in 1881 after winning the competition for two years running, beating the Mechanical Engineers of Basingstoke 1-0 in 1880's final, then the Queen's Free Grammar School by the same score in front of over a thousand spectators in 1881.

How do I know this information? Because I bought a copy of Norman Gannaway's book The Turks 1868-1993 from a table selling programmes and books in front of the changing rooms. Norman was present at the match by all accounts, as was TalkSport's Tony Incenzo, visiting his 2,138th ground. I have some catching up to do...

The Bailey Cup (left) and a trophy donated to the Turks by Vimoutiers FC.
I don't know if Vimoutiers sent their first team - I think it was more likely that anybody from the club who could afford the time and money to travel to Fordingbridge was playing - some of their players looked very young. Two of the youngest-looking lads (possibly brothers) were wearing spectacles, which started a conversation about Patrick Kluivert and his glaucoma. How did their glasses stay on? Tied on by elastic?

A close shave for Vimoutiers, as this chance trickles just past the post.
Saturday's game was rather one-sided, with the Turks 5-0 up by half-time. The visitors had been unlucky to lose three players to game-ending injuries during the half, and with only one sub, they were grateful to borrow a couple of Fordingbridge's players to make up the numbers.

The ancient seven-arched bridge crossing the Avon at Fordingbridge.
It was one of the Turks players who scored Vimoutiers' only goal halfway through the second half. It was merely a consolation though, as the home side scored twice more to win 7-1 in the end.

After the match, both sets of players retired to the clubhouse to watch the FA Cup final. I suspect Vimoutiers were cheering Arsene Wenger's Arsenal on, so they will have been pleased to see him lift the cup yet again. Their own trophy, the Bailey Cup, would have been presented to the Turks during the evening, but there was also another trophy on display - the French team had had a special cup made to celebrate the weekend, which they handed over to their hosts. It will take pride of place in the Turks' trophy cabinet from now on, I'm sure.

Bale and Lloris discuss Tottenham's fortunes whilst the game carries on in front of them.
Did the scoreline matter? Of course not! Did the chance to make new lifelong friends in another country matter? Of course it did!

The Turks hope to pay a return visit to Vimoutiers next summer. Should be fun!

I'll post some more photos from the day on Facebook shortly. They will be here.

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