It's back. It's here. The 2014/15 season rolled into town on Tuesday, and my
attention immediately switched to this Friday night fixture between my beloved
Bashley, and local rivals Christchurch. Don't get me wrong, last season was
good (I visited 50 games), but I have a little inkling about the quality levels going
up a notch this time round.
Having spent the day in Cardiff mooching around the town and the university as I
start to make some crunching life choices, it was good to return to normality in
the stands at Hoburne Field. The quirkiness of the Welsh capital has certainly
captured my imagination, as well as making me feel a little giddy as I excitedly
strolled past the Millennium Stadium. For those that haven't previously visited
Wales, fear not. I too had never previously ventured West until today. I'll try and
sum the whole place up though, with a quick anecdote;
Picture this. I'm mooching my way through Cardiff town centre, when a bloke
begins to approach me. He's quite clearly homeless, but is reasonably smart for
the circumstances he finds himself in.
Homeless Man: bvjbkabvkbafkebkb (Throws a bit of Welsh in my direction)
Me: Sorry mate...?
Homeless Man: Do you have any spare change?
Cardiff summed up by the casual switch from one language to the next. Screw
you England, we'll speak our own language. Unless, of course, you don't speak
Welsh, then we'll speak English...
Having not made it home to New Milton train station until gone 7, it was a case
of a quick journey home, chat with the parents, then the short 28 second walk to
Hoburne Field. When I say 28 seconds, I am of course exaggerating, give or
take 4 seconds. I live not 400 yards from the ground.
Bashley were formed in 1947, before joining the Bournemouth leagues in 1950.
The club progressed well, and by 1983 the club were promoted to Division Three
of the Hampshire leagues, before being promoted to Division Two a year later.
Bashley soon became one of the founder members of the Wessex League in
1986, and even won the title for the first three years of it's existence. 'The Bash'
were accepted into the Southern League in the 1990/91 season, and have
remained there ever since. Following a horrific 2013/14 campaign that almost
saw the club hit the wall entirely, Bash will play the 2014/15 campaign in the
Southern South and West Division. The most notable names to come out of my
second home are Wade Elliot, formerly of AFC Bournemouth and Birmingham
City, as well as Liverpool legend Jimmy Case.
Hoburne Field (or Bashley Road to give it its non-corporate tag) consists of
seating across the majority of the nearest half on the far side, accompanied by
standing terraces stretching along the rest of the touchline. The rest of the
ground remains open without any terracing of note. Some quick research tells
me the official capacity is 4,250, but I personally can't recall a game that's come
anywhere near that figure.
Unfortunately, the Welsh weather decided to follow me home, and it chucked it
down for a full 90 minutes. Being the die-hard Bashley fan I am, the next
sentence is difficult. I did not recognise a single Bashley player. (Allows quick
pause whilst we all recover). I trained with the squad myself last week, but
sitting in the stands, I could not name a single man out there. No matter, I
perched myself in the stands with a few familiar faces and the conversation was
quickly all things Bash. I must mention, the majority of the chat turned out to be
cheap jokes about our horrific 2013/14 campaign, but I don't need to remind you
of those. A quick look at the league table and I'm sure you can make your own.
Bashley started the brightest in the driving rain, as they got things moving with
some neat passing football that has been somewhat missing in recent seasons.
Even in the conditions, both sides created half chances before Bash broke the
deadlock midway through the first half. Some good work down the left from the
winger (you'll have to bear without the names I'm afraid, neither a team sheet nor
a programme was available tonight) saw him find space to drill a low cross into
the Christchurch box, before one of the Bashley defensive pairing managed to
poke out a toe to direct it home.
5 minutes or so from the interval, the game's quirky moment arrived. Following
some ping ball in the centre of midfield, Christchurch hopefully played the ball
forward in an attempt to pick out a run from the striker in behind the Bash
defence. The pass went astray, and it was bread and butter for the 'keeper.
However, this is non-league, this is pre-season, and it was pissing down with
rain. So, almost inevitably, the Bashley no.1 got his bearings all wrong and the
ball bounced over his head and into the bottom corner.
Bash secured the win midway through the second half though, as some more
neat work down the left hand side teed up the substitute 12 yards out, and after
a composed touch and swivel, he fired the ball past the Christchurch 'keeper
and into the bottom corner.
Full-time: Bashley 2-1 Christchurch (Attendance: 60 ish (Headcount)).
Personally, I love Hoburne Field. I've been going for 10 years, and I love
everything about the football club. Thankfully I still have a football club to support
following the calamities of last year, but that's football I suppose. Roll on the
rest of the season!