One of my favourite films is The Rock, that’s the film with Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage and not the WWF wrestler (I was always more of a Raod Dogg fan myself). At one point in the film, Dr Stanley Goodspeed (Cage) and John Mason (Connery) are trapped inside the old cells of Alcatraz and Goodspeed asks the old lag Mason; “How did you do it?” Mason’s response; “Uh, nurtured the hope that there was hope. Modest hope, but, uh, they kept a man alive.” Well it’s the modest hope of maybe seeing us even draw let alone win a fucking game that keeps me coming back as we’re stuck in the life sentence that is the 2019/20 season. No win since October, last point earned on New Years Day in a game we threw away a 2-0 lead, and now the prospect of Weymouth rolling into town to rub salt into the wounds of what has already been a disaster of a season.
The Dorset Senior Cup, as with most county cups around the country, isn’t quite the prestigious competition it once was going way back. It now serves as more of an inconvenience in an already congested fixture pile up after months of bad weather forcing several postponements of league fixtures (don’t get me started about the joys of the trip to Merthyr to find out the ground was now a paddling pool), and given our dire position, it was a game we could do without. Weymouth had the same issue for polar opposite reasons as their season looks towards a push for a second successive promotion, but it’s a cup final and it’s a derby game, so in more hope than expectation, I trotted off to The Avenue to see what the night had to offer.
After mooching into the bar, I was greeted by the sight of Berry doing his best impression of the ‘Stay Puft Marshmallow Man’ in a club coat that seemed to be part life jacket and part balloon. He informed us of the team news and conversation quickly moved to what would be an acceptable margin to lose by given the makeshift nature of the side. Starts for Rowthorn and Batista as well as youngster James Nicholas ,who even Berry hadn’t heard of, were the more surprising choices, and the bench also included three youngsters as well as Hutch and Jason Brookes. Now the somewhat changed nature of the side was partly down to the rules imposed by the Dorset FA that caused issues for both sides. Only at 1100 on the day did sides become aware of a rule that players signed after the semi-final were ineligible as well as well as other eligibility rulings, and this ruled out seven Magpies players as well as some from Weymouth. As a result, both sides were forced to shuffle the deck and no one really got what they wanted from it. Either way, it was decided that a respectable loss and not a thumping would be seen as a small triumph as we assembled behind the goal.
The crowd for the game was reasonable at 700 odd, and the one Weymouth fan who asked online about what parking provisions were in place just in case the away fans filled it up proved to be somewhat over optimistic. Staggeringly, the fucking huge car park that’s always been there was somehow able to manage the motor show that came over the hill without people having to park at Came Down and walk to the ground. All of the squad players who were injured/ineligible were on the pitch warming us as well as if to give us an annoying idea of what our side might have looked like, and Nathan took much delight in scoring a penalty in his warm up reminding anyone in earshot that “I love a penalty against the scum.” We’d have settled for a goal by any means pre-game and as the game got underway, we found ourselves under a bit of pressure without really looking threatened in the first 10 minutes.
The lack of excitement on the pitch meant conversation about the season was more interesting that the game as I chatted with Livvy and Pete Hassell about derby games gone by including the bygone age when fans were able to change ends at half time, looping goals from Justin Keeler and how Harry Carter feels about toilet interiors at the Wessex Stadium. During this conversation Joe Prior also arrived fashionably late so not only did we have the two largest heads by circumference in Dorchester in JP and Berry, we also had the tribe elder and the young buck in Hassell and JP exchanging war stories like two countryside wildebeests on a Dorset Serengeti. There was to be no battle to the death though as things actually became mildly more interesting on the pitch. After a couple of opening in which Weymouth should have done better, firstly (the animal) Batisa forced Weymouth keeper Mark Childs to pay attention for the first time before Childs was made to properly earn his keep with a good stop to push away a curling effort from Tom Blair as the half wore on. After a surprisingly even first half it was 0-0 at the break and there was a mild sense of surprise and optimism that we might actually be able to do something here.
Kicking towards our fans second half, we started brightly with fans even creating something resembling an atmosphere as the usual chants got a louder than normal airing. In truth, both sets of fans were in good voice and it made for a much more interesting atmosphere in what turned out to be a decent watch in the second half. With 53 minutes on the clock, a free kick from the right wasn’t properly cleared and the loose ball broke kindly to Tom Bath who calmly slotted past Childs. 1-0 up and in the very rare position of leading, it felt nice to be able to celebrate a goal. One could and maybe should have been two shortly after as Bath looked to be in the clear, but his run was cut off by some good defending from Ashley Wells and the chance slipped away. Of course, the predictable then happened as some slack defending down our right hand side saw the ball pulled back for Harry Burns to side foot the ball in and it all seemed a touch too easy. Three minutes later and it got worse as an at best tame Brett Williams shot slipped through Shane and from 1-0 up we were now 2-1 down inside 180 seconds. Great.
Pleasingly, we didn’t capitulate as we could have done, and have done so often, and were once again level soon after. good work from Bath released Torniainen down the right, his ball resulted in a badly mistimed shot which Tom Blair turned into a great assist taking a touch on his chest before lofting the ball across goal and into the top corner. It was an excellent finish matched by its celebration behind the goal. “Blairo’s down The Buzz, down The Buzz, Blairo’s down The Buzz” was the chant referencing the newly reopened club in town. The Buzz was subject to a strong turnout from the police and the ambulance service recently as someone was assaulted, and JP was able to fill Livvy in with some of the details:
JP; “Apparently the blokes that did it were Polish”
Livvy; “Where had they come from?”
And there ended the conversation.
Back to the game and shortly after his goal, Tommy was taken off which caused us to lose much of our threat, whether this was done with an eye on the weekends game or not I’m not sure but we didn’t look the same without him and the game soon changed once again. A cross from the right and a free header saw Weymouth retake the lead at 2-3, and a quick goal on the breakaway from one of our corners put the game beyond doubt at 2-4. Weymouth add their name once more to the illustrious winners of the competition alongside teams such as St Paul’s and Trinidad Bluebird. The fourth goal felt a touch harsh, but in truth the better team won and although our heads seemed to drop a bit after the third goal, it was hard to criticise the players too much as to a man they’d put in a good shift but come up against a good side with a bit more depth and quality than ours. No shame in the result and no qualms in applauding them off at the end.
This was a one off free hit of a game though, and there and more bigger problems at the club than the DSC performance. We’re rock bottom and looking almost certain to be relegated (Beaconsfield won on Tuesday casting us further adrift) and despite a change of manager and several new faces, we still are yet to pick up a point under the new man. Wimborne at home on Saturday provides as good a chance as any to pick up points but we need to pick up something soon just to snap this awful run and try and build some sort of confidence for when this season does eventually end the new one in the South & South-West comes around. Leigh Robinson has a good record in that league and we’ll need it if we’re not to get bogged down in that league as we have this one. That said, the Southern Premier was always regarded as a hard league to get out of, but we found a way eventually… One slight annoyance is the way some fans choose to abuse the opposition keeper by shouting about his mother/sister/girlfriend having various STI’s etc. I know most teams have one idiot at least that does so but I’ve never known it gain us any advantage, and I’m sure Mrs Childs is a delightful woman.
Lastly and on a much more personal note, for those of you that know me, you’ll be aware that it is the 10 year anniversary of my Father’s suicide. Adey Voss was in his younger days a player for Dorchester reserves with a strong moustache and the ability to kick attackers as well as miss the odd penalty, and in his memory, this year I’ll be running the Hampton Court Palace half marathon in aid of CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), a suicide prevention charity who do some amazing work in helping to prevent stories like that of my father. Should you wish to donate at all, the link is; https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stuart-voss
Anyway, Up The Magpies, hopefully we’ll get a point at least before the season is out. By the way, does anyone know why those 2 fucking manaquen heads are in the window above the club shop? Someone could at least turn them around, they’ve seen enough over the years. SV