|Swindon Supermarine FC beckon drivers to the Webbswood Stadium with this sign on the nearby roundabout.|
Up on the screen, beneath the arch, my photo was showing, advertising the FA Trophy Final! An actual photograph that I'd taken...me, I took that! With my finger...that finger there...on my hand...oh, my goodness (or words to that effect)...
Cola spilling from my lips, sticky drink can hurled towards my son, a fumble in my coat pocket, unzip the camera bag...don't go away, don't disappear, not before I can take a picture! Camera on, point, click...it was still there! My photo, up there, on the screen outside Wembley!
|The jaw-dropping moment when Liphook United appeared outside Wembley.|
Swindon Supermarine FC (1) 3 v 0 (0) Fleet Town FC
Evo-Stik Southern League Division One South & West
Saturday 28th March 2015
Colours: All blue v Gold / black / black
National Grid reference: SU1889
|Swindon Supermarine's oldest structure.|
I'd already bought the programme and found my stamp-sized photo. Nice, but I've seen my photos printed in other programmes and books before, so it was a relatively minor thrill. My main concern was to keep the rain off of the programme so that I could file it away next to my Got, Not Got books in my home football library.
Scoffing our hot cross buns down in the drizzle, I just wasn't expecting the parade of mobile phone operator ads outside the stadium to be interrupted by my photo, which could be seen all the way down Wembley Way by the hundreds, maybe thousands of people making their way up from Wembley Park Station. Liphook United's full-backs, that was you up there! That was you, summing up the camaradarie of non-league football in a picture. That was you, representing the thousands of amateur footballers out there who play the game for enjoyment, win or lose, week after week throughout the season. That was you, where Kane and Rooney had been two nights previously - it was your turn. Famous for thirty seconds!
|And a newer stand next to the older one.|
And then the match started...Wrexham were 2-0 up with fifteen minutes to go. The green-clad Yorkshiremen behind us were urging everyone to stand up for the Ferriby. It worked like a charm, as the underdogs scored twice to take the match in to extra-time...
But I'm not supposed to be writing about that match here. This should have been all about Fleet Town's trip to Swindon Supermarine...and so it shall be from now on in...
Supermarine is one of those places that I've always wanted to visit, purely for their name. I drove past their ground on the way back from Lancashire in the autumn and timed how long it would take me to get there from Southampton - just over an hour - a very reasonable time. So, when Fleet Town were due to play there - and with Fleet not having featured on HAH for four years - I decided it was time to go to north Wiltshire.
|Behind the goal, a homemade standing area.|
To the right of the club shop is the oldest structure in the ground - a small stand with fifty or so red plastic seats without backs. This stand moved with the club from a neighbouring pitch when they were formed in 1992 via a merger between Supermarine and Swindon Athletic (formerly Penhill). I sat in the stand drinking a nice warm cup of tea whilst waiting for kick-off. To my left was a DJ table with a pile of Now That's What I call Music CDs. To my right was a metal table for the local pressman to lean his laptop upon. Dotted around me were other early arrivals, greeting each other and chatting about Swindon Town's promotion prospects. It was all very affable.
At five minutes to three, the rain suddenly stopped and the sun came out! It was one of those little miracles that make you believe in some sort of ancient football/weather god. The announcer read out the teams "very slowly for my Pompey-supporting friend who likes to write down the players' names in his programme" (which made it two Pompey fans in that little stand!). Then he played a familiar ditty as the two teams walked on to the pitch - the Match of the Day theme tune. Supermarine's players had evidently heard this before, but Fleet thought it was hilarious. Football with a smile.
|A shot from distance from Fleet Town.|
Along the opposite side to the stands, it's more hard standing all the way to the far corner, where there is a metal terrace, the same kind as is found at Sholing. Beyond this are three more turnstiles of different types, presumably all bought from different professional clubs as they upgraded to the modern electronic form (which I dislike intensely - modern pro football, pah!). I presume Supermarine utilise these when they play Swindon Town in pre-season friendlies.
Turning left and walking beneath some tall fast-growing conifers, you come to the final spectator structure - a homemade standing shelter made of scaffold poles. The roof, back and sides seem to consist of disused advertising boards painted blue. I see discarded boards piled up at many grounds I visit - what a great way to recycle them!
Changing rooms and a clubhouse complete the grand ground tour.
|Numbers 4 and 10, your time is up!|
The wind dominated the game. At one point during the first half, the referee told Fleet's right-back James Scott that he "had the wind". Cue bemusement at which sort of wind he had, as it certainly wasn't the gale force weather type of wind, which was blowing straight in to his face as he was trying to take a throw-in.
Half-time, and the prize for the draw was a ploughman's with paté (Green 704). I didn't win (and thank goodness for that, say my family and friends, as I would probably talk about nothing else for the next few weeks...).
The second goal was scored by Supermarine's number 9, Connor Waldon, on loan from Swindon Town for work experience. He brought down the ball on the edge of the area, shimmied to the left, shimmied to the right, turned and stroked the ball efficiently low to the keeper's right. You could tell he was a pro.
Supermarine could have scored many more, but their third and final goal was the best of the game, a low hard strike from wide out on the left by Ryan Stanners.
This was the second time I've covered Fleet Town on here, and they've yet to score. Maybe next time...
|They don't make adverts like this any more! I wish they did!|
I was going to write more about Swindon Supermarine - about how they sound a bit like Super Mario, and how there must be a pitch in the Supermarine complex dedicated to Mario and Luigi and Yoshi and Princess Peach where they can play some sort of weird, illogical game of football with turtle shells and giant bananas - but there wasn't space this time...
Match reports can be found on the two clubs' websites here and here. Fleet Town's report is very honest about their performance. One point since New Year says it all. Bashley (with no home wins all season) v Fleet will be interesting in a couple of weeks. Match photos can be found here. More photos from Supermarine may well appear here shortly, but weren't available to view as I wrote this.
I'll be at another game on April 11th, but I haven't decided where yet - somewhere with a club that has promotion or relegation at stake would be my first choice.