Just fresh back from three days in Stratford, with barely time to run the line as my lad’s under 11’s Sunday team win 10-0 (tssk! should have been stopped at 9!), and I’m playing the “Honest, It’s all work, luv” card again as I set off for a two-day business trip to the South West. What a coincidence that there’s a couple of difficult-to-get-to-by-public-transport matches that I can take in whilst down there…..
The first of these is at Paulton Rovers. You can draw comparisons with other senior sides playing out of barely more than a village… I’m thinking of teams like Forest Green Rovers and Direby County for instance…
I arrive at the stadium and find a spot in the cramped car park. I’m immediately impressed by the back of what looks like a substantial covered terrace behind one goal. There’s time to buy a prog from the turnstile and then off to the clubhouse which is not accessible from inside the ground.
The prog is £2, quite steep for a Southern League South & West club, but there’s quite a bit in it, including a page of jokes about wives. I think of mine slaving over a hot stove whilst I’m sitting in the bar with a beer in front of me. Sentimental to the last. The beer is in fact a cracking pint of Bath Spa, served from the bar’s single handpump. The clubhouse is something else. Apparently it serves as a community centre for the village and pumps a lot of cash into the club. One of the features is two full-size snooker tables, with the action viewable through a glass screen.
Into the ground and the covered terrace I observed earlier from outside is quite striking, being raised up behind one goal. Down two-thirds of one side is another, narrower covered terrace, whilst opposite is a small upright main stand, with a couple of kit stands adjacent. These look out of place and aren’t being used – a folly of the ground grading system. I’m a bit peckish and having noted that the veggie option doesn’t exist once again, I ask for a chip bun and get two of them for just a quid. Fair enough!
The teams trot out and it’s a battle on this sloping pudding of a pitch between two of the season’s under-achievers. Bishop’s Cleeve annoy their hosts by taking an early lead and it’s 100 mph stuff for much of the first half. The visitors have former Football League veteran Julian Allsop leading the line and he gets on the scoresheet before halftime, though sadly at the wrong end, an innocuous looking free kick being bulleted past his own bemused keeper. Cue a few titters.
By the break Paulton are in front and proceed to throw away several gilt-edged chances before conceding an equaliser late in the second half. It looks destined to be a draw before Paulton manage to sneak a winner with just minutes to go. A disgruntled Mr Allsop, having been subbed earlier, then suffers the ignomy of being sent off for sound advice given to the lino. His day is thus complete and I declare him to be my man of the match!
Floodlight pylons: 6
Parakeets: Too dark to see!
Club shop: Conspicuous by its absence
Tannoy Music: The Sound Of Silence
Toilets: Signposted behind the main stand, a mile from the action
Quirkiest player name: Luke ‘Utterly’ Buttery. Mike ‘Deep’ Throught was listed in the prog but couldn’t come….