With the Conornavirus robbing us of live sport, many outlets have had to speculate about outcomes of dream matches to fill column inches and air time. Arsenal’s invincibles or Manchester United’s treble winners? Prime Ali or prime Mike Tyson? Thirsty Matt Groves or a parched Mark Morris? Well, the first two we can’t help you with (Man Utd 99 and Ali are the correct answers, don’t @ us), but the last one we can reveal the answer to as we welcome you to players choice part 3.
This weeks dose of nostalgia includes cup classics, further derby day delight, DTFC’s master of the overhead kick, a rare double replay, league title glory and the battle of the last beer prior to the M25. We start with the second of the father and son pairings so far as we start back in the 1990’s.
Stuart and Scott Morgan:
After a professional career which saw him play well over 200 games for Torquay, Reading, Colchester and AFC Bournemouth, Stuart Morgan would move into management. Joining the club in 1993 after spells as both a manager and on the back room staff at clubs such as rivals Weymouth, Torquay and AFC Bournemouth, he would guide the club to our highest ever Southern Premier League finish (4th in 1997/98) as well as overseeing some memorable cup runs.
“Several good times and games at Dorchester. One in particular was the marathon FA Trophy v Slough when it went to a double replay and then we played holders Woking in last 16. The replay win at Slough, after extra time, was one of the most tenacious, guttsiest and determined performances I’ve had from any one of the sides I’ve ever managed. There was ice coming down all game and the lads just wouldn’t give up. 2 replays in the cold freezing rain away from home! The Woking game I think hinged on Tommy Killick hitting the post from 6 yds with a header that would have made it 2 nil just a few minutes after taking the lead!”
With well around 150 games for the club over two spells in the 90’s and 00’s, Scott never saw a 50/50 tackle, or indeed any other ratio, that he didn’t fancy. Committed and as tough tackling as they come, he is one of a select few to have played for Dorchester and in the Champions League qualifying rounds.
“It’s a tough one, I’d have to pick two. The first would be the fa cup 4th round qualifying game against Sittingbourne away in 1995 when we won 2-1 to get to the first round proper with goals from Owen Pickard and Tommy Killick. That was a very tense game with so much at stake and as a result we drew Oxford away and we all know what happened there. I was only 20 at the time, I don’t think Dorchester had got that far for a long time so it meant a lot to everyone to get there.
“My second game would have to be the 2006 Boxing Day game against Weymouth where we won 2-0. Special because it was against Weymouth, the Avenue was packed, Weymouth were flying at the time under Garry hill, they had unbeaten for a while and went on to get promoted that season. They were a full time club as well, had a very good side with a lot of big time players, so that was especially sweet to win that game, and I got man of the match so that was nice.”
230+ games and 90+ goals, Justin Keeler was a key player in his many seasons at the club. An obscene shot with his left foot and a habit of scoring stunning goals, he was a huge fan favourite who made many vital contributions to the club’s on pitch success.
“Would have to be beating Weymouth 2-0 at home. It was a huge game, packed ground, so much on the line for us so to win and for me to score, what a day. It meant a lot to the players and the manger, Mark Morris, was a good one. There were so many more games I could have picked, my first start in ages against Eastbourne, beating Weymouth in the Dorset Senior Cup. But smashing them on New Years Day, brilliant.”
Two spells at the club for Danny, with 84 goals in 185 games in his first spell between 1998-2002 and a further 8 in 27 between 2002-03, his importance and popularity can’t be overstated. At the age of 44 and still playing a third spell may yet be on the cards!
“My Dorchester days are along time gone but loved every minute I played for them what a fantastic ground and the manger to the back room staff were amazing. One of my favourite games was a FA cup game away against our rivals Weymouth in 2000 which was always a hard game but not one you had to get motivated for as we all knew how important a game against them was and the atmosphere was always electric.
“I always loved the big games and I always remember this game because we won 1-0 and I scored the winner in the first 5 minutes, but also because my mum and Dad traveled all the way up from Cornwall for the weekend to watch me play but were late to the game and they had just got out of the car outside the ground and heard the crowd cheer (me scoring!). My mum couldn’t believe it. But it was a hard fought game and if I remember rightly David Elm our keeper saved a pen during the game. Other games I really enjoy were our FA cup game away at Wigan which I believe we lost 3-1 but what a great ground to play at and playing home on a Boxing Day against Weymouth in front of 4,000 fans. It doesn’t get much better than that. I will never forget my Dorchester playing days.”
64 goals in 146 appearances for another man who had two spells, Shep’s game comes from his first spell in 1997. Another popular player, his enjoyment of overhead kicks is still remembered by fans to this day.
“The game I have picked is perhaps not an obvious one, Gloucester away in the Dr Martens Premier League on the 18th October 1997. This season saw us finish in fourth after a tremendous season but was special to me as I had left neighbours Weymouth, a league below at the time and I was keen to prove a point and repay Stuart Morgan’s faith in bringing me to the club. As a striker goals are what you live for and the ones you remember the most are the ones you wish to score and hope you have the audacity to try. We had gotten off to a good start to the season and I was enjoying a good scoring run prior to this game so my confidence was high. The game was a tough and ill tempered affair with Gloucester just wanting to fight and battle. We were missing Ryan Cross and Neil Coates at the back and would have been content with a draw.
“My moment came in the 29th minute when Martyn Sullivan whipped in a right wing cross whilst I was hovering on the edge of the area with my back to goal. It was a great cross at the perfect height to try an overhead kick, fortunately I connected and it went straight in the top corner. Gloucester subsequently levelled a minute later but Toby Redwood grabbed the winner for us with a thundering header. That wasn’t it for the overhead kicks though with time ticking away I did another overhead kick that hit the bar and the follow up unbelievably came straight back to me, so I did it again just to watch it go agonisingly just wide. If you played football as a kid you would remember playing headers and volleys and how much fun it was, this goal and moment takes me straight back to those days when having fun and trying things can indeed come off if you try enough times!!”
Matt Hann had two very profitable seasons between 2002-04, before moving to St Albans. A key part of the supply line that kept Groover and others in the goals, he is a other member of the league winning side to feature in this piece.
“The first is Weymouth at home in the 2-2 draw.on New Year Day. After getting a stuffing on Boxing Day at Weymouth (was it 8-1) we had the return fixture less than a week later.There was a large crowd (around 3-4,000 I think) and after the embarrassment of Boxing Day I remember we were pumped up to make sure that didn’t happen again.
“At the time we were clear underdogs, they had a expensively assembled team. I remember it being wet, rainy and the pitch being very heavy. I played up front that day and remember the pace of the game being very frantic and we certainly were pumped up by Mark who let us know in no uncertain words that we needed to perform after the Boxing Day shambles. Jamie Brown and Clarridge were at each other the whole game (There were even rumours of a scuffle in the car pack which I couldn’t comment on!).
“I’ve got a great picture framed at home, after scoring the penalty to make it 2-2 of me celebrating in front of the Weymouth fans with Grovsey in the background. I love the picture as you see what it meant to us to get one back on them after the humiliation and also because we knew what it meant to so many of the amazing people at the club who lived locally.
“The other game was when we played away at Fisher and had to win to secure the title. My memory of the game itself isn’t that great, but I seem to remember it was won at a canter in the end and really comfortable.
“The celebrations after the game really were my favourite memory of that day – and summed up the amazing team spirit we had at the time. We were a team – but more importantly we’re a group of mates with a amazing team spirit. We used to go out every Saturday night together (and a few others nights most week) and even went on holidays.
“I remember that before we got to out of the M25 we had to stop for a refill on beers as we had drank the supply dry as they were already gone! I even remember Mark fighting Grovsey for the last beer at the back of the bus (only one winner there). Great memories, of the football, yes, but of the lads much more.”
Another fan favourite who after more than 550 games was rewarded with a testimonial in 2001. Neil was an almost ever present during much of his time with the club and wore the captains armband for much of that.
“I’ll go for the FA Trophy 3rd round game, Woking at home. We had a great team that year, the game stands out for me as the closest we could of come to a major trophy we played 7 games to get there 4 away and 3 home, a double reply v slough and a local derby v Salisbury. The game v woking was very well supported I think nearly 3,000 attended. Before hand we had heard the goalie was out and they didn’t have a reserve keeper but we found out on the day they actually loaned the ex Wimbledon goalie. Who just happened to play a blinder as well. We got off to a great start with Tom Killick scoring after about 5 mins I think they equalised mid 1st half so 1-1 at half time.
“Second half was an epic game. We took the lead midway through and I sure we had a couple of chances to kill it off but the goalie was on top form. I remember they literally scored 2 in the last 8 mins and the winner right on full time. We were gutted as we had gone so far and ran a very experienced Woking side with England non league players and ex pros.
“Woking actually went on and won the trophy that year. We lost in the 3rd round of the FA Trophy only 2 games away from Wembley, what a dream that would of been.”
Long before his move into management, Tommy was a vital part of the Stuart Morgan managed Magpies. Another man who scored some vital goals, he once scored the winner at Rushden and Diamonds but left his bag in the players bar, having to pay to have it couriered back the next day!
“I loved my time at Dorchester, its a part of my football career that i will always cherish. I got the opportunity to play with some exceptional players and under a great manager in Stuart Morgan who had contacts in the game that were second to none and lead to us recruiting some of the best players I have ever played with.
“As an example my strike partner Owen Pickard was in my view far and away the best forward to have played as a permanent player for Dorchester in the last 25 years . You then had the mercurial Darren Garner who was an exceptional talent and others such as Russell Coughlin and Craig Taylor . We also had a great team spirit and had as many (if not more ) memorable moments off the pitch as we did on it. People like Skunk ( Andy Harris, Martin Shepherd, Mark Lisk and Taffy were not just great players but part of the social glue that is so important at non league level.
“In terms of matches l would have to pick out fixtures against Weymouth as always being special because of the atmosphere that used to be generated with real hostility between players and supporters alike. I also particularly remember the FA Trophy game we had against Woking as a great occasion although the frustration of losing a game which should of won still rankles to this day. I remember Hans Segers being in goal who was at the centre of a match fixing scandal and our supporters took delight at showering him in Monopoly money. As l have said my time at Dorchester FC was special to me and a part of my life that l will always remember with great fondness.”
A youth product who went full time with the club in 2008, Regan was a rarity of a young homegrown keeper. Learning as the backup to Gareth Stewart, Regan would establish himself as number 1 following Gareth’s departure.
“So its a toss up between Havant away in 2009 and Braintree at home 5-0 that same season. I remember the Havant game very well as was my first game at that ground and people told me it was intimidating and they weren’t wrong! You can imagine the abuse I got as a 19 year old keeper, but I had one of those games where I just saved everything. We got the classic smash and grab with Glees smashing one in from edge of the box low and hard! I remember Manny Williams shaking my hand at the end and saying “you fucker couldn’t you have let one in?” Think he must have had a nice goal bonus!
“The best Dorchester side I was involved in was under Shaun Brooks when Gaz Stewart was obviously number one and I only played a couple games when he was ill / injured, this side was a bit less gifted but harder working for each other for sure. We’d often out work sides and against Braintree we were under the cosh a lot and somehow managed to win 5-0! I had a collision with their striker George Purcell, through ball, hit nipped it round me marginally of his toe and I took him out as the last man and we collided ankles, which really hurt, and I don’t think they even got a free kick! I saved a penalty from him that day as well and after we had a classic home win night out in weymouth after I remember that very well as my ankle was knackered but the alcohol really helped!”
A decade at the club with over 300 appearances, a league winners medal in his first season, a first round FA Cup appearance and part of the side that played the first season in the new Avenue Stadium, Gary was as hard working and loyal as they come.
“3 games really stick out. Ashford away in 1987, the championship winning day, Chelsea game for opening of the new stadium in 1990, and finally Bromsgrove away semi final game 2nd leg. A game I will remember for the rest of my life for so many reasons.
“I think we won 4-1 at home, but they were right up there in the league and expected to beat us. We lost 2-1 away I believe but we were a bit short that night I think, but believe me they tried everything possible and got away with it but we all dug in and didn’t cave. Really proud of the lads that day and soo happy for the directors and great supporters. They were on the pitch before we left it directors and all. It was a long, late and great journey home.”
161 appearances and 10 goals in his six year spell at the club before moving to Yeovil, Tony was a part of the league winning side of 1979/80 and as well as key part of the side that came so close to beating Bournemouth in the FA Cup second round in 1981/82.
“It’s easy going for the Bournemouth game, although sadly we went from a side that could score to one that couldn’t when Trevor left also the side broke up at the end of the season. There were several games against Wealdstone who were a good side with Alan Cordice up front who was a good player – think Brian Hall who later managed Yeovil was the manager and Stuart Pearce was there at the start of his career. We drew 2-2 midweek on a cold night in March 1982 with Trevor Townsend and myself scoring. I remember significant points like when Dave West got spotted at Welling away and the scout missed Tony Agana and Andy Townsend!
“I once had my nose smashed at Slough away, had six stitches after a clash of heads Leytonstone. Playing for Dorchester meant a lot, after leaving the club I returned with Yeovil in a pre season friendly and won 3-0 , I scored got a lot of stick from Chairman Peter Aitken! I returned the following season with Poole and got beat 2-0. I always enjoyed local derbies with the competitive nature and nasty verbal side, I was always ready for them.”
250+ games over two spells at the club between 1996-2003, Sully was a popular with fans and players alike. Ever wondered what the deal was with the celebration in the the empty stand at Wigan in the FA Cup? Sully has the answer…
“Thinking back to my time at Dorchester, what a great period of my life that was. I loved every minute of it! I have so many fond memories and made so many good friends thinking back to my time playing for Dorchester. There are so many games that stick out in my head; on a personal level, the first being my debut playing against Gresley Rovers on my 21st birthday, I had to go into the press box for an interview after the match along with Gary Birtles who was their manager at the time. Being a life-long Manchester United fan I was so chuffed, Stuart Morgan signed me up on the coach home! The second personal memory was scoring a 25 yarder in off the crossbar and setting up the other goal against Weymouth in a 2-1 win (I think it was a Dr Martens Cup Semi Final?!?).
“However, the obvious one from a team point of view was playing in the first round of the FA cup against Wigan at the JJB stadium, Wigan were two seasons from reaching the Premier League and flying high in League One, Roy Carroll was watching in the stands as he was about to sign for Man United and the whole experience was really memorable. I remember travelling up on the coach on the Friday; the banter and excitement was quality. A few of us went for a walk on the morning of the game, bought the local newspapers that were reviewing the game and picking out a few of our team members that they felt presented a threat (it wasn’t a long read).
“Then, when we arrived at the stadium which was immense compared to what we were used to playing at; there were chandeliers in the entrance area, and when Mark Morris did his team talk he had to gather us all at one end of the changing room as they were really big and we were all too spread out. The game began and they started slightly better but we grew in confidence and in first half Matty Holmes’s free kick sailed straight in.
“We had pre-planned a goal celebration to dive into the stand whilst Holmesy pretended to take a picture of us all. I think we thought that was our best chance of getting on ‘Match of The Day’ but only a few followed through with it and the rest of us (myself included) decided against it. The scoreboard read 1-0 to us and was a great feeling for all of about 2 minutes until they equalised; and not long after we were 2-1 down. We went in at half time still in the game and Wigan were only marginally the better side in the first half.
“However, the second half was a different story; we were pushing on, asking most of the questions and with about 15 or so minutes left threw on another forward at the expense of a defender (we had to go for it!). It was after one of our many second half attacks that Wigan then broke away and, as we were now lighter at the back, they got their 3rd and the game was over. A great memory even though the result was not!”
Joining the club after a successful loan spell from Portsmouth, Craig would establish himself as number 1 under Mark Morris and be a part of the side that would come so close to making the Conference South playoffs.
“I absolutely loved my time at the club, some of the friendliest people I’ve met in football. Mark Morris commanded respect and got it, Benji was a top man always gave me little chats to motivate me before the games, Eddie belt could never do enough for me and my family. The games that stick out are a FA Trophy game against higher league Cambridge that we won 3-2 (goals from Justin Keeler,Jamie Brown and Mark Robinson) in 2005. I was just buzzing, the lads were outstanding, we dug in massively that day and the fans were chanting my name all game “Craig Bradshaw my lord Craig Bradshaw”. That will always stay with me.
“The other memorable one was a 0-0 draw at home to Stafford Rangers. They had Ben Foster in goal for them on loan from Stoke and we both had great games. I got man of the match but he got a £1 million move to Manchester United!”
So there you have it, part 3 done and there are plans for a fourth instalment to come at some point. You never know, there might be some current football to write about again someday. SV.
Thanks once more to all the players who have contributed thus far.
Photo credit: Idris Martin and his superb galleries of bygone years. https://idrismartin.wordpress.com/2015/05/29/last-historic-images-for-a-while/thesameoldfewUncategorized1 Comment