Wembley, Wembley, We’re the famous Badshot Lea and we’re going to Wembley. Well, maybe next year, because after this narrow defeat to Chertsey Town – courtesy of an individual piece of brilliance from dynamic Curfews midfielder Oliver Burgess – The Baggies won’t be gracing the home of football come the FA Cup final in May. So cruel when you consider they were a mere twelve games from the showpiece occasion of the English season.
To save you the bother of punching Badshot Lea FC into your search engine, the Surrey club groundshare with Godalming Football Club which they’ve been doing for two seasons having previously had the same arrangement with Farnborough. To get to Goldalming’s Wey Court ground, you have to alight at Farncombe. Confused? You will be. Shall we move on…
The “home” club had been kicking their heels around the Hellenic League for much of their 107 year existence until a tidy little agreement with the leagues saw them swap places with Reading Town and rise to the dizzying heights of the Combined Counties League Premier Division. For their part, Chertsey Town of the – deep breath – Southern League Division One Central, are currently the most fun-packed team on this fair isle. Why pay £40.80p to go to Thorpe Park when, for a fraction of the cost, just around the corner at Alwyns Lane you’re pretty much guaranteed goals, goals, goals…..29 (twenty nine) of the beauties in their last four matches. Wowzers.
As per usual, Team EFW arrived in town in good time to hail the pre-match ale. Cynical Dave, Big Deaks and I dragged our one and half inch Cuban heels over to the Leathern Bottle pub, next door to the stadium, where we were met by Twitter legend Jamie Cutteridge who, pleasingly, was also rocking the old Cuban heel as well as sporting a freshly ironed Football Ramble T-shirt. You won’t find us chaps wearing those new fangled elasticated bottomed trousers. What on earth is going on there? Take a look at yourselves, kids.
The food menu in the pub had been priced up as per 1986, so we filled our boots and helped ourselves to TEA, Hogs Back Brewery Traditional English Ale TEA. As the ale sailed freely down the hatch, we giggled at the fact Badshot Lea FC ranks third on the list of Badshot Lea entries in Google; taking a bronze behind a van hire company (silver) and the garden centre (gold). It was also suggested that Chertsey sounds like it should really be a suburb of Liverpool. Say it out loud in your best Scouse accent. Exactly.
Fan through any Non-League guide and I’m pretty positive you’ll find the phrase “good little set up” inked in next to Godalming Football Club. Man alive, they even sell pasta (pasta) in their fairly spacious clubhouse. Said clubhouse is also decked out in footy pennants, which will always receive a large tick in my book. The club are after £40,000 in ground development funds. They need more covered seating to meet league requirements should they make it to the Ryman Premier League. They’ve raised £2677.97p thus far so, feeling a bit merry generous, we chipped in a few quid.
As the two teams emerged we afforded ourselves a huge cheer – the biggest of the day. Magnificently, the players had entered the field from either side of the main stand. Split. Tunnels. I know we are, at times, accused of being easily pleased – but really, what’s not to like about a bit duel tunnelage? Those involved then gathered themselves on the touchline and marched to the playing field as one. I’m not sure how long that took to plan but it looked tremendous. Marvellous scenes and all that.
Badshot Lea punched above their weight for much of the game but, ultimately, they struggled to contain easily the two best players on the pitch in Navy blue tops; Oliver Burgess and the – already prolific this season – Danny Bennett.
We’d taken up a position in between both dug outs. For comedy value alone, it’s often the best place to stand during a Non-League match. “Make the run, if it doesn’t come to you, so what, don’t do a standing jump,” came the orders from the bench. “Shoot, fucking shoot, will somebody please fucking shoot,” barked Chertsey gaffer Spencer Day. Hmmm….Spencer Day. He looked the part in a very dashing suit, and seemed vaguely familiar, but the name didn’t ring a bell. So we looked him up on t’internet. Of course, that’s him: the artist formerly known as Spencer Trethewy – the chap who, over twenty years ago mind, was for a brief period the most infamous man in football having stood accused of bringing Aldershot Town to their knees. Didn’t he appear on the Terry Wogan show as well? He did. We all blew out our cheeks.
After quite a bit of faffing, and not too much penetration, the match sprung into life in the 68th minute when a totally innocuous off-the-ball incident involving both teams centre backs was deemed sufficient enough for Ben Wright, the match referee, to send the pair of them off. Cue a verbal volley of abuse from a bumper Non-League Day crowd and players alike. “You’ve ruined the game, ref,” said the players. “Any pasta left in the clubhouse? That really hit the spot,” shouted the hungrier elements of those gathered on the terraces.
In truth, the game opened up after that. Darren Blake spooned a shot wide for Bagshot Lea when he really should, and could, have done better after being sent clean through on goal. He and The Baggies were left to rue that miss as minutes later, Oliver Burgess produced that bit of magic which – dare I say – was worthy of winning any cup tie; a swashbucking run weaving in and out of the home defence, and a shot and the end of it, drilled low into the right hand corner of the net. 0-1.
Back in the clubhouse afterwards I conducted an exclusive in-depth interview with Spencer Day regarding the obvious talking point of the match, the double sending off. “I didn’t see it, mate,”. And with that he said his goodbyes, wished us all well, and sped off in a fancy Range Rover. Broom.
That was our Non-League Day. A hugely enjoyable experience despite it not being the most pulsating of actual matches. The icing on the cake would of course have been a dog with a football scarf around its neck running across the pitch with a string of sausages. Fingers crossed this will occur in the next round of the cup when Chertsey Town entertain community club, Lewes FC, see you there? Woof.
Huge thanks to Danny Last. Again, as if you didn’t already know, Danny’s European Football Weekends website can be found at this place on the interweb.