Saturday, 29 January 2011

2. AFC Totton

The covered terrace at AFC Totton. Soon to be a thing of the past.
A second match report which was originally copied from my other, less specialised blog, Pleasure City Avenue. A cold afternoon in Totton. Still, the big consolation here is that there's a fabulous old-fashioned sweet shop a few hundred yards away. The blackcurrant and liquorice humbugs helped to keep the chill out!

The second instalment of Hopping Around Hampshire took me to AFC Totton on Saturday for their top-of-the-table Sotonian derby clash with Sholing FC. West Southampton versus East Southampton, third versus first in the Zamaretto Southern League Division One South And West (is there a longer league name than that anywhere in the world? Probably!). Would West come out best? Or would East take the local bragging rights?

AFC Totton (0) 2 v 1 (1) Sholing FC
Zamaretto Southern League Division One South & West
Saturday 22nd January 2011
Attendance: 384
Entrance: £9
Club shop: Yes, 1 badge bought
National grid reference: SU3613 (the new ground is at SU3415)
Subbuteo colours: 155 v 52

Midfield action.
AFC Totton came into being in 1975, when Totton FC and Totton Athletic merged to form a new club. They could have called themselves anything - Totton Albion, Totton United, Totton Hotspur - anything at all. But they had to choose the prefix AFC. Oh dear. I can feel a bugbear coming on. The first AFC (or at least, the most well-known) were AFC Bournemouth. As they were the first, I can accept that (although I much prefer their previous name of Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic). However, so many clubs have copied them since, such that there are now three columns-worth of AFCs in the small-type index of the Non-League Club Directory 2011. From AFC Aldermaston to AFC Wymington, they're all there. If they wanted to be first alphabetically, they should have called themselves AAA Man & Van Totton, surely?

I digress.

As for Sholing - well, I'll give their potted history when I visit their ground in due course. Suffice to say that they were VT FC last season.

So, this was AFC Totton's third-to-last-ever home game at Testwood Park. Next month, they move to a new ground, half a mile upriver (if you want to know what Testwood Park looks like in more detail, then head over to this blog pronto! Highly recommended). I had been here before, and it had been bloomin' freezing that time - the wind can whip in straight off the adjacent marshes something rotten. Brrrr! This time, I wrapped up warm, the imaginary voice of my nan ringing in my ears as I put my third hand-knitted woolly jumper on. Not so brrr-ing this time! However, if it had have been, the snack hut sold a fine selection of hot drinks, just in case.

I was looking forward to seeing AFC Totton's mascot, whom I shall christen Startled Stag, and if he had turned up, I can assure you I would have taken a photo of him and posted it. This is what he looks like:

Startled Stag

Startled Stag, where were you? Had they locked you up in a cage? Are they feeding you properly? Poor thing. (As an aside, I had a dream before attending this match that not only would Startled Stag turn up, but that the Sholing team would bring their mascots with them - their mascots being a shoal of disco-dancing miniature fish. It didn't happen. Dreams never come true, you know).

The match? Oh yes, the match...played between two close-knit teams, like watching two bands of brothers who would do anything for each other. These two have been neck-and-neck in whichever league they've been in over the last five years, and it showed. There was nothing in it - it was one of those matches that could have gone either way. It just happened to be Totton's day today.

The temporary stand at AFC Totton

The goals? Oh yes, the goals...concertinaed into a small box either side of half-time. Think of the goals as a clown-faced jack-in-the-box springing up suddenly, uncomfortably close to your nose, slapping a custard pie in your face and screaming "Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!" three times in quick succession. Quite a surprise, as the rest of the match was mostly forgettable. Lots of crash bang wallop in the middle of the park. Loads of commitment, lots of effort. I can see why both teams are pushing for promotion - either would steamroller most other teams in this league, but they cancelled each other out on this occasion.

Behind the goal at the Marsh End
So, West was indeed best and East was least in this local derby - the last ever to be played at Testwood Park. AFC Totton start their new life at their new ground on February 19th 2011. Good luck to them.

Next: Fareham Town.

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