the real fa cup

Poppies 0-3 Portchester

Bournemouth FC 0-3 AFC Portchester
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round, 15th August 2015.

I don’t often travel to football on an open top bus. Across the sea. But this was FA Cup day. From my Swanage holiday apartment I could see Bournemouth, so it seemed only proper to plan a trip to watch Bournemouth Poppies extra preliminary round tie against AFC Portchester.

I’d done my research, using the power of Twitter to find out the best way to get their from a very helpful official. The Poppies best run in the cup was a couple of years back when they lost a second qualifying round replay to Truro City, the same season they reached the quarter finals of the Vase.

Bournemouth Rovers were founded by eight enthusiastic gentlemen in 1875, one who ended up as Mayor of Bournemouth. Portchester didn’t arrive on the scene until 101 years later. They are known as the Poppies so as not to confuse them with their illustrious town neighbours and moved to their ground, a former farmers field surrounded by houses and still plenty of space to develop, in 1908.

The clubhouse was opened in 1985 and has an impressive 205 seater stand and glass fronted bar where you can sup your ales and watch the football in the cold winter months ahead. It still has those old fashioned speakers that managed to crackle into life to tell us about goal scorers and subs, and a couple of nesting pigeons which they have no doubt trained to shit on opposition fans.

And in today’s crowd of 77 there were quite a few from the suburbs of Fareham. An open top bus across a chain-linked ferry sounds almost as romantic as the early rounds of the FA Cup until bits of tree hit you in the face while snot dribbles down your cheeks and old people hold onto their hats shivering. Eventually I made it to the bus station and allchange on to the yellow bus, where a combination of day dreaming and the hotel near the ground being refurbished meant I disappeared hopelessly lost into the suburbs.

So I arrived late in a cab greeted by a turnstile operator so far away from the action with building works in front of him that he didn’t know the score. I hadn’t missed any goals but it soon became apparent that  despite both playing in the Wessex League, Portchester were bossing this.

Managed by former Arsenal and England international Graham Rix they seemed to to be so much more assured on the ball, passing it around and winning most challenges. But it took just before half time to get their break through with a Mr.Baldacchino scoring the first goal (I arrived too late for a programme).

The second half started the same with the Poppies keeper pulling off an excellent save, posts being hit until two quick goals ended their cup dream. On this showing you quite fancy Portchester to go a bit further and they play AFC Totton in the next round.

The game had everything you’d expect from this level of football.  A second half pep talk from one of the players’ dads, goalkeepers having to hop over fences to get wayward balls, obligatory old man with a crazy beard.

With neighbours Bournemouth now in the Premier League the gulf between the clubs has become a chasm,
it’s almost a different sport. That’s not to say it isn’t run professionally or that people behind the scenes don’t work bloody hard to make their clubs tick. Its just so different from the ‘best league in the world’ crap Sky never tire of telling us. And that’s why I love it.

Words & Pictures by Warren Carter.
Warren is author of the Slough Town Soapbox also known as @BrightonRebel.

1 Comment
  1. Brighton Rebel is one of Sloughs most travelled supporters, unfortunately not to Slough games (going on holiday during the football season!).

    Please read more of his soapbox rants as eventually there is a point to his ramblings, usually singing the praises of non-league football and those mad enough to follow it.

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