Posted by sean on December 11, 2011 at 11:04 am in Non League with No Comments

Longwell Green Sports 0-3 Bishop Sutton
Western League Premier Division
Saturday 10th December 2011 – 15:00 

With no coach running to Bath City’s FA Trophy tie in Chelmsford, I made the short trip to local Western League side, Longwell Green Sports for their game against Bishop Sutton.

The afternoon was freezing. As I walked through the Tesco car park towards the football ground, I expected to see David Attenborough filming a penguin for Frozen Planet.

I managed to avoid any polar bears and make my way to the ground, which is at the rear of the Longwell Green Community Centre. There, I approached the pay box (a common sight at Western League football), handing over a crisp £20 note for my entry fee. £4 was received in change. Questions were asked, before two shiny fivers were passed my way along with an apology. A genuine mistake. No apology necessary.

Toolstation. Other DIY catalogues are available

Don't say they didn't warn you

I sought warmth from the cold Bristol weather in the clubhouse. A foreign TV station was broadcasting a European game. The commentator was speaking another language, so I could not work out what was going on. I am sure the foreign voice I heard was in fact that of Martin Tyler, who had learnt another language after receiving a Rosetta Stone CD for his birthday.

Paul Weller. The most famous name to visit the Longwell Green Community Centre since local weatherman, Richard Angwin, opened the bingo hall

Livin' the dream. Celebrating floodlit football against Shepton Mallet.

It was a proper non-league clubhouse though, which I liked. Cheese and ham rolls were on sale, with hot drinks being served in china mugs. Best of all, a piano was sat in the corner of the room. I know I have been moaning about drums at football games in recent weeks, but a piano is something else. If I was to ever see a piano on a football terrace, my life would be complete.

I visited the café. Spoilt for choice, I bought a can of coke and a cheese roll. The cold drink would lead to be a big mistake, considering the sub-zero temperatures. Food in hand and smile on face, I made my to the other end of the ground, along a very muddy path, behind the dug outs where I would watch the first part of the match.

The humble cheese roll. Western League football at its best.

The free match day programme included your typical list of players and coaching staff for each team. Various names jumped out at me. Ex-Chippenham Town midfielder, Kye Holly, who is the only player I have seen sent off during a preseason friendly, is now playing for Bishop Sutton. Probably as punishment for being stupid enough for his red card. The other recognisable name was that of the Longwell Green Sports physio, Steve Evans. I am sure this is not the same Steve Evans who was convicted of fraud and now manages Crawley Town, although for the purpose of this blog and my own amusement, I’ll assume it is.

A light sabre at the Longwell Green Community Centre. Luke Skywalker is just off camera to the right.

It wasn’t long after kick off when Bishop Sutton took the lead. A great strike from a Sutton forward into the bottom right corner of the net. It was nearly 2-0 moments later, when the Longwell Green defence forgot they were involved in a football match. The goalkeeper exploded with rage “That’s fucking twice” he yelled, leaving mothers to cover their children’s ears. It was nearly three “fucking times” when Bish’ continued their attack, this time hitting the post. This time the goalkeeper didn’t swear.

Argentina v Brazil. Classic.

With the score at 1-0 and the home side under pressure, my time to shine as an amateur-footballer finally arrived, when a misplaced ball went flying towards me. With an instinctive first touch I passed the match ball to a Longwell Green player for the throw in. After waiting years for the chance to break into football (OK, that’s a lie), I finally found by chance and indeed level (ball boy).

I then made my way round to the other side of the ground, away from the dugouts, to stand with the fans. With the score at 1-0, the home faithful were getting restless “No, no, no, no”, shouted one fan, while another, presumably reporting for Talk Sport began stating the bleeding obvious, providing a running commentary out load for all to hear “He won’t be able to reach that”, “Nobodies after it!”

My chance as a footballer-cum-ball boy was given a second test when another wayward ball came flying my way. As I had my iPhone out at the time to check on the Bath City score, I was unprepared for this one. I miskicked the ball, probably annoyed a Longwell Green player and my career as a professional footballer was over.

As the game slowed down, I couldn’t help but notice a substitute running up and down the touchline. At closer looked, I realised the players was in fact Robbie Savage, arriving on a free transfer from Strictly Come Dancing. I tried to get a decent photo, but thought he would hit me.

Fancy modern day footballers with fancy modern day haircuts

As the sun set, the temperature continued to drop. The players, no doubt feeling the cold, resorted to hoofing the ball 20 feet into the air. One particularly impressive “hoof” ended up in a nearby car park. Players looked longingly into the crowd, hoping one of the fans would retrieve the ball for them. Nobody looked interested and after my earlier exploits, my days as a ball boy were over. Just as it looked like the referee was about to abandon the match due to “Missing ball” (in accordance with rule 8.17 in Howard Webb’s Rules of Officiating), some local supporter, clutching a portable radio and listening to his fellow-fan on Talk Sport, recovered the ball and the game was able to restart.

"Addmission" includes a programme but not a spelling lesson. On the plus side, Jagerbombs are offer. Chavtastic.

With half time approaching and my feet almost frozen to the floor, I started to regret buying that can of ice cold Coke. I made my way into the club house to buy a coffee. What china cup would be beverage be served in? Given the fact it was December, exactly two weeks away from Christmas Eve, I found it very fitting for my drink to be handed to me in a Halloween mug.

Merry Halloween everyone!

I watched the second half of the game from the stand, clutching onto my coffee for warmth. Bish’ made the scoreline 2-0, shortly into the second half. The ever optimistic Talk Sport reporter sat near me woke up, declaring “No way back now”.

Going corporate

A dog, having run away from its owner on a nearby public footpath, walked into the ground. I prayed for it to run onto the pitch. You can forget promotion and cup wins – dog invading a pitch is easily the best thing to ever happen in football. Sadly the dog didn’t run on the pitch. Such a shame.

Watching for free

Bish’ made it 3-0 with a well worked goal. Lots of passing play and minimal hoofing. Their captain repeatedly bellowed at his team mates “Time! Squeeze! Pressure!” This no doubt played a massive part in the goal.

There was a break in play when a Longwell Green player hurt himself. Cue physio, Steve Evans, running from the dugouts to the injured footballer. Steve Evans managed to fix the injured player and nick a fiver from the pocket of his shorts.

Things were getting colder and the pitch muddier. One Bishop Sutton player was almost completely covered in mud. I felt for his mum who would have to wash his kit.

Bish’ completed the rout with the final kick of the game. 4-0 after a scramble in the box. “This can’t be happening” shouted out the nearby Longwell Green supporter. At fulltime the linesman turned to a fan, commenting “They’ve played some good stuff”. Lino-cum-football pundit.

Steve Evans the physio-cum-manager-cum-crook.

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