FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round
Nyewood Lane, Bognor Regis
If these last weeks, the first under new manager Lee Bradbury, have felt like a few awkward first dates, with minimal hand holding and a botched attempt to yawn his arm around our shoulders at the cinema, then here at Bognor, we finally felt the electricity of his first kiss. Swoon? I had to be peeled off the Bognor terraces!
This is not to say that it won’t go awry, it would be wrong to insinuate that our ovaries are clanging like tubular bells in a typhoon just yet but now, having been dragged into a shop doorway with such confidence and brio, we’ll certainly be a little giggly for a bit.
Like I say though, these are early days, and this was, after all, an FA Trophy tie against a side from the division below. However ask any of our fans who were the favourites going into it, Bognor riding high in the Isthmian League, or us berthed near the bottom of the Conference South, and the answer would be, “dunno, mush, them probably”.
Given how easily we slipped out of the FA Cup away from home to a side from a further division lower, this could certainly have gone down a similar route. So short was our Road to Wembley in the FA Cup it was like just after setting out we’d stopped off at a garage for a Sunkist and a Topic, realised that not only had we forgotten our wallet but that we weren’t wearing any trousers, and decided to just go home there and then so as to avoid embarrassing ourselves further.
No humiliation here today I’m happy to report. Not even while wearing pink shirts. Now for a lot of football fans, for a lot of men generally, the idea of wearing bright pink taps into a kind of 70’s-Dick-Emery-ooooooh-oo-got-‘im-ready idea of effeminacy. However, while a third kit is rather extraneous for a club of our size, you can’t argue with the facts. Frankly it appears to be the most effective performance enhancer since Lance Armstrong began the EPO-and-fresh-blood diet.
We have worn pink in two fixtures and scored fifteen goals. Yes. That’s right. In this luminous get-up, this neonsemble if you will, we average seven and a half goals a game. No one has been this pretty in pink since Molly Ringwald’s name was last seen at the top of a film poster. Alright so we scored eleven in the Hampshire Senior Cup against a side that were as amateur as my attempts to make a clay paperweight in primary school but it’s very easy to take these games too lightly and come unstuck. Then, as here at Bognor, we remained committed from first to last, not being satisfied with ‘just winning’, and taking apart our opposition to the point of cruelty.
When you consider the performance during that FA Cup game at North Leigh was so spineless our first XI were subsequently reclassified by a team of botanists as being molluscs, this new start on the Road to Wembley has seen the reset button pressed. We could not have asked for more dedication to the cause, and you could feel the self-esteem levels rise like a prize-winning loaf as we went on. Sure there were moments when Bognor pressed, crashing a shot against the post when 2-1 down for example, but by and large the Hawks dealt well with Bognor’s eager contributions to what was an excellent local derby cup tie.
Our one big ‘oops’ moment was when Jake Newton looped a ball off his in-step back to Clark Masters who had little time to do anything but catch it. Thus an indirect free-kick in the area was summarily thrashed into the net by James Crane after 19 minutes. Happily, we were already a goal to the good by then, Steve Ramsay having calmly poked a penalty away in the third minute following a handball.
Bognor did not keep parity for long though, as we re-took the lead just four minutes after their gifted equaliser. The Rocks had stoutly defended a couple of teasing crosses, but eventually our captain Ryan Woodford scooped the ball back in where it was a met by a Tony Taggart header so sturdy you could have shelved a twenty-six volume set of the Oxford English Dictionary on it. Leather bound n'all. Bognor keeper Craig Stoner could do little to stop it bulleting past him.
For the remainder of the half it was end-to-end stuff, and while in the second half the pace dipped a bit, the Hawks rode their good fortune, and remained steadfast, eventually putting the tie out of reach in the 81st minute when Taggs scored his second, following up an Ollie Palmer shot that had been parried by Stoner.
After this the terrace Hawks bopped and jived in a way we’ve not seen much lately. Under The Moon Of Love got a rare run-out and in the midst of all the bonhomie, substitute Scott Jones added a cherry to the cake, hammering home a fourth in injury time.
One can easily get carried away after results like these and the work is not yet done, but what has impressed me most since Bradbury’s arrival is that we seem to have a midfield again, one that doesn’t seem to disappear for lengthy periods. In the same way as they say money comes to money, one hopes that further increased confidence comes to those who are puffing out their chests once more, progressively believing more and more in their abilities and in the Hawk cause.
Make us proud is all we ask and the Hawks did just that here in Sussex.
Road To Wembley
F: Grimsby Town 1 Wrexham 1 (1-4 pens) [att. 35,266]
SF2: Dartford 0 Grimsby Town 0 [att. 2,153]
SF1: Grimsby Town 3 Dartford 0 [att. 3,573]
QF: Grimsby Town 3 Luton Town 0 [att. 2,791]
3R: Welling United 1 Grimsby Town 2 [att. 1,037]
2R: Grimsby Town 4 Havant & Waterlooville 0 [att. 1,215]
1R: Braintree Town 1 Havant & Waterlooville 2 [att. 192]
3QR: Bognor Regis Town 1 Havant & Waterlooville 4
2QR: Bognor Regis Town 3 Bridgwater Town 0 [att.313]
1QR: Bognor Regis Town 4 Ilford 1 [att. 321]
Previously, on DHVDW
01jan09: Havant & Waterlooville 2 Bognor Regis Town 2
26dec08: Bognor Regis Town 1 Havant & Waterlooville 5
29sep07: Bognor Regis Town 1 Havant & Waterlooville 2
26dec05: Bognor Regis Town 0 Havant & Waterlooville 1