“We drew 2-2, got the mother of all bollockings, then a few beers later on the bus home, it turns out he’s off on holiday to Spain and misses the next game anyway!”

We’re now only a day away from the return of competitive football to The Avenue, so normal service with blogs covering depressing defeats in the arse end of London and how a sense of optimism can be crushed by 1515 will soon resume. But before that, we have one final lookback (for the time being…) and having done the previous title winning seasons of 1979-80 and 1986-87, we finish this little series with a review of the record breaking 2002-03 campaign that saw us win the Dr Martens Eastern Division title.

In many ways this is a totally different triumph to the previous two that have been mentioned. Firstly, the preseason expectations in this season were to gain promotion and this is very much in contrast to the two other successful seasons. Relegation had preceded the 1979-80 triumph and it should also have preceded the 1986-87 season but we were reprieved due to a substandard ground from one of the would-be promoted sides. This was not the case in this successful campaign though, as we’d finished an agonising third, five points off the promoted Hastings and Grantham sides. So where as consolidation had been the order of the day in other years, promotion and being in the title picture was the minimum expectation this time around. After relegation in the 2001-02 season, manager Mark Morris had totally rebuilt and changed the personnel and ethic of his Dorchester side. The deals players were on had become much more performance related, a lot of the players involved in the relegation had departed, a core of young and hungry players had joined and the spine of the side was very strong.

Matty Holmes was a key part of the side and remembers both this and the previous season well; “It was no bad thing really that we didn’t go up in the previous season. It gave us a chance to build on finishing third and we had a really stong spine to the side. We had quality in depth and were able to go into games knowing we’d score, and with Skunk (Andy Harris) and Michael White at the back we had a quality centre back pairing.”

Building on that near miss of a season wouldn’t require major changes to the squad with Matt Hann and the returning Martyn Shepherd being the key additions to supplement a squad that was close knit and had already shown it was capable to being genuine contenders as well as being very physically fit and well drilled. With players such as Holmes, Hann, Shepherd, Matt Groves, Justin Keeler and Marcus Oldbury in side, goals shouldn’t be a problem. And with a backline marshalled by the excellent Mark Ormerod that included Andy Harris, Michael White, a young Mark Jermyn, Jamie Brown, Simon Radcliffe, Carl Poore and many others who would make vital contributions, we looked set for a season that could match our high expectations.

This would inevitably see us draw our first game of the season away at a Spalding side who would get relegated with a tally of only 18 points. Shep and Keeler penalty getting us off the mark in terms of both goals and points on what was a boiling hot first day. A 1-1 draw at home to Newport IoW with another Keeler penalty helping us take a share of the spoils in front of a crowd of 427 would follow that, and our first three points would come in a 3-1 win at home over Banbury with another Keeler penalty added to single strikes by Shep and Phil Andrews. A 0-0 away at Bashley on August Bank Holiday would precede a 5-0 FA Cup win at Porthleven (Harris, Shep, Keeler, Oldbury, OG), but we would lose two players in and around this time. David Elm would move to Bashley for an alleged £10,000 (it was a different time),and Matt Lonnon would sadly see his season ended as he would injure his knee ligaments in the FA Cup win at Porthleven.

No replacements were signed given the depth in the squad, but the start of the season after five games was DDWDD, which was slow by anyone’s standards, and more was expected in the league. The fifth game was a 2-2 with Rothwell (Holmes/Shepherd) but it was the next game when the first glimpse of what was to come was seen with the 5-1 demolition of promotion contenders Salisbury. Shep, Hann, a Keeler brace and a first strike of the season for Matt Groves would see us brush our visitors aside in emphatic fashion. It was a game Matt Holmes would we “bossed” and gave the team a much needed boost after a slow start, but defeat away at Clevedon in the FA Cup and a 2-2 draw at Tonbridge in the league would see us take a backward step after the forward momentum the Salisbury win gave us.

But the disappointment of the Tonbridge result would result in the first real turning point of the season as Matt Groves (who netted both goals in that game) would recall;

“Tonbridge was a game we really should have won. We drew 2-2 and got the mother of all bollockings from Mark Morris afterwards. Then a few beers later on the bus and it turns out he’s off on holiday to Spain and misses the next game anyway!”

Mark Morris in action before his full time switch to management

And it was that next game that would prove a pivotal moment in the season as we would travel to another promotion contender in Eastbourne on the Tuesday night. With Mark Morris away in warmer weather that the Sunshine Coast of Sussex, he would select Matty Holmes to take charge of the team with Benji assisting. The gaffer for a day remembers it well;

“Mark had asked me to take charge for that night and left his instructions for it and I remember starting really well and being 2-0 up. Once we got the third I subbed myself off quickly but my record as Dorchester manager is played one and one won so I’m happy with that record!”

Ever wondered why Matty is yet to manage us full time? Why risk that 100% record. The Eastbourne task was made difficult by the sending off of Andy Harris after half an hour with is 2-0 up, but we’d see the game through comfortably enough as single strikes from Shep, Groover and a rare Mark Jermyn strike would see us home. Both Matt’s Holmes and Groves would identify this game as key fixture in the season and it’s easy to see why. We’d win nine of the next 10 games in the league (exciting both the trophy and the league cup, but who really cares) in a run that saw us remain right up there, with a 2-0 home defeat on Boxing Day against Bashley bringing our run to a halt. But 28 points from a possible 30 from late September to Christmas was an excellent return.

The Matty Holmes Corinthian figure meets a paintbrush and a man with some artistic talent.

In that run we would really hit our stride going forward. The 8-1 home victory over St Leonards would include four goals from a rampant Shep (would would chose that as one of his favourite games in the recent ‘players choice’ pieces), five goals in a 5-2 mauling at Corby, and a 4-0 win at home versus Chatham. The smallest margin of victory was 2-1 with the only dropped points coming in a 0-0 away at fellow promotion chaser Salisbury. As Groover would remark;

“We played with no fear, knew we were a good side, knew we’d score and we knew we’d get promoted. We just got stronger every week.”

With that said, we’d then go on a most typical of Dorch runs as including the Boxing Day defeat, we’d lose five of the next seven in the league. Defeats against Banbury, Rothwell, Burhman and Stamford would see us fall a bit off the pace, with a 2-2 at Kings Lynn as a 1-0 win over Erith and Belvedere being the only points gained in the run. In the piece on the 1986-87 title win, Pete Morrell would say how there was less pressure on the side in the run in as “we weren’t up there to be shot at” all season, but had the pressure of expectation got to us this time around? If it had, we’d shake it off in quite spectacular style.

Mark Ormerod gets the ball clear of danger as Andy Harris looks on.

It would start with a 5-1 home demolition of Tonbridge with Hann, Jem, Groover and a Keeler brace doing the damage, and although a 0-0 away at Fleet would follow, what was to follow was remarkable. Wins against Fisher, Ashford and Spalding would come by scores of 2-0, 5-1 and 9-0 (N-I-N-E) with goals and confidence now flowing again. Does Groover remember the emphatic wins by margins of 8-1 and 9-0 well? Of course he does, but not for the reasons you may think…

“Of course I remember them, I was only a goal bonus and didn’t score! I tried so hard and it didn’t happen. The harder I tried the worse it got, I must have been the only bloke not to score and Shep must have got about six or seven! I had my mates there watching me and they took the piss all night after that!”

Shep did indeed fill his boots with a hat trick against Spalding to follow his four against St Leonards. Matt Hann would also bag a hat trick in the 9-0 win as his profitable season continued, but it was the next game, a rearranged clash away at Histon in midweek that would prove more memorable in terms of importance for the pair of Matthews;

Groves; “It was a Tuesday night and it was a long trip. The coach would leave at half one in the afternoon and I remember we got back and got dropped off in Bournemouth at two in the morning on Wednesday. But we won 2-0 and it was a big win that really showed the team spirit.”

Holmes; “I remember we were two thirds of the way there on the original date in December when it got called off and it’s a really long journey. It felt even longer midweek but we played really well and got a big win. There was a lot of travelling that season and that was a long trip getting back early in the morning, but it was a great result.”

It was goals from Hann and Keeler that would secure the points and since the Stamford defeat, it was five wins from six. That would become six from seven as another goal glut would come as Erith and Belvedere would become the latest victims, a margin of 6-2 seeing our goal difference increase to a quite ridiculous number. Mark Rawlinson would net his first goal for the club in his third appearance following his arrival from over the Ridgeway, a rare piece of transfer activity in a very settled squad. But this wouldn’t cause issues with team spirit and the mentality of the side being so geared towards team rather than individual success. The work ethic and spirit created came from a huge respect for the manager who was someone who players would run through walls for.

Groves; “Mark made sure everyone understood their jobs. He had high expectations and if you didn’t work hard then you wouldn’t play. He could except mistakes but not a lack of effort, and that’s why we won the league.”

Holmes; “Mark would get right into people if needs be. He was respected and you really didn’t want to let him down. We were well organised and I remember doing shape sessions with him in pre-season which was pretty much unheard of in non-league. You wanted to play for him.”

Wins at home to Corby and a victory overseas on the Isle of Wight versus Newport would precede a disappointing draw at home to Dartford. This would see our midweek fixture at home to league leaders Eastbourne take on extra importance as we sat in third place, points and a place off the promotion slots. A draw would have been of much more value to the visitors who had a healthy points at that time. But despite the fact he cannot remember his performance or anything particular from the game, Matty Holmes would be the driving force behind an absolutely vital win. With Ollie Cherrett and Micheal Walker replacing the injured regulars of Andy Harris and Simon Radcliffe, we’d take an early lead through a Matt Hann header following some excellent work down the left by Holmes. A rare error from the usually faultless Mark Ormerod would see Eastbourne level, but a Holmes strike with six minutes to go would prove to be the winner. His left footed shot from 20 yards would squirm under the keeper and creep over the line and send those stood in the rain behind the goal mad. Three vital points and we were right back in the title and promotion shake up.

Matt’s Hann and Groves celebrate the formers penalty in the derby game the following season.

Things would only get better from there and not always due to our own actions. A 4-0 win at home over Chatham would see us move into the second promotion place as Salisbury, who had occupied that spot, fell to a 3-1 defeat at Kings Lynn, and Salisbury’s misery would be compounded as they were docked three vital points for fielding an ineligible player in an earlier game. Eastbourne would also drop points at home to lowly Corby Town in their game in hand, and all of a sudden we were second place with a gap to third and only three points off Eastbourne in top spot.

Any questions about our ability to handle pressure and sustain our form were rather emphatically answered with wins over Histon, St Leonards and Fleet leaving us needed a victory away at Fisher to secure promotion back to the Dr Martens Premier. An 5-1 trouncing of our hosts would see promotion secured, with goals from Shep, Michael Walker, and own goal and two from a Groover (one after only 15 seconds) seeing us canter home. A more competitive match than the football would see Groover and Mark Morris battle it out for the last beer on the bus home.

Harris, Oldbury and Keeler celebrate.

Matt Hann; “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.”

Matt Groves; “I do remember that! It was a great journey home and we needed to restock on beer pretty quickly. I gave as good as I got but I don’t think I was winning that one! It just shows the teams spirit, Mark would always be good for a few words on the bus and that was a great trip. We played like a promoted side.”

Sadly for Groover, he’d injure his ankle in the game (not in the beer battle) and would miss the final game of the season against Kings Lynn. And with promotion secured, a win would see us win the league regardless of Eastbourne’s result as even though we were level on points, our goal difference was so far superior. A lone Justin Keeler strike from a free kick would bring us the three points and the title as the celebrations would carry on long into the night with the fans and players. Keeler’s goal would be our 114th league strike of the campaign, a record only bettered by the Dinky Curtis inspired Magpies of 1960-61. We’d also win the Dorset Senior Cup courtesy of a 2-0 win over Weymouth making this our most successful season in recent years, as well as setting a record that still stands of a season high points tally with 93.

Rarely has a Dorchester side played with such confidence and it really was a team effort with everyone in the squad playing their part. We’d have three players with 20 goals or more as Groover (20), Shep (24) and Keeler (26) would all enjoy excellent seasons, and the supply line of Holmes (seven) and Hann (16) would add a combined 21 goals as well as countless assists. Jamie Brown and Mark Rawlinson would share the midfield duties with Marcus Oldbury often being used as Matty Holmes replacement, and the backline that usually comprised of the excellent Ormerod marshalling a back four of Jermyn, Radcliffe, Harris and White that was ably assisted by vital squad members such as Carl Poore, Ollie Cherrett, Michael Walker. In truth, everyone that wore the shirt played their part in the season, the close nit nature of the squad being proved by the fact that many of those who played are still in touch to this day. With a core of ten or so players living in Bournemouth, the social side was as successful as the on field side with a very much work hard and play hard feel to it. Matty Holmes would say it was the best Dorchester side he played in and many fans will likely say its the best Dorchester side they’ve seen. Looking back, it’s not difficult to see why.

So there you have it, the final historical piece of (this) lockdown done. If you’ve enjoyed looking back and reliving some of the memories then don’t forget, the season starts again so why not get down The Avenue and support club. We can’t promise a romp to the title like this, but it has to be better than the months of endless zoom quizzes and efforts to master the art of baking that many seem to have endured over the past few months. Up the ale house cloggers, here’s hoping I might end up writing a blog on this coming campaign in a positive sense in the not too distant future. SV.

Thanks to Matty Holmes and Matt Groves for their memories, Idris Martin for his excellent photos, and Sam Welch for having the time to dig out the stats from the programmes.

“Are you kidding? He won’t fetch the curse out mumbling a few prayers.”

30 years. Three whole decades. 10,950 days. No, that’s not how long the last few seasons in the Southern League have felt, that is how long the Avenue Stadium has been the club’s home. Built at a cost of over £2 million with Prince Charles involved in the design process, we switched from the old Avenue Ground in 1990 (now the site of Tesco) to the brand-new Avenue Stadium. It is in fact 30 years to the day since we played our first league game at the ground (more on that to come) and in the seasons that have followed we’ve been treated to some great highs, a curse placed on the stadium by a “Dorset wizard”, a scheme to put flats around the ground, a televised FA Cup game, an away keeper trying to jump into the home fans for a scrap, some stunning goals and gaffes, memorable testimonials, as well as being subjected to some staggering lows. Of course, listing all off these highs and lows isn’t possible as quite frankly, I don’t want to depress myself with having to spend too much time looking at crushing defeats. But a condensed version with 5 of the best, and on the flip side, 5 of the worst, seems much more manageable. So along with some honourable mentions that didn’t quite make the top slots, here are some of the best and worst games that have taken place on the hallowed turf/3G at The Avenue Stadium.

Honourable mentions;

A most honourable of mentions has to go to the official opening of the stadium with a friendly against Chelsea. Monday the 15th of October 1990 was the date and in front of a bumper crowd of 4,000 plus fans, a strong Chelsea side would run out 1-4 winners thanks to two goals from Kerry Dixon, a Kevin McAllister effort and bizarrely, a penalty from England goalkeeper Dave Beasant. The Chelsea side also included Graeme Le Saux, Dennis Wise, Steve Clark, Frank SInclair and ex-Magpie Graham Roberts in their number, but Dorchester put in a performance of their own and were rewarded with a strike from Colin ‘Harry’ Sayers as a consolation. With a ‘grand penalty shootout’ of DTFC youngsters as well as a performance from The Massed Band of the Devon and Dorset Regiment, entry priced at £4 for adults and £3 for OAPs/children in the main stand and £3 & £2 respectively on the terrace, it was a bargain as well as a memorable night for the club.

Jeremy Judd saves from Kerry Dixon in the official opening match.

In the middle of an awful run of form and on a horrible night in March, a 4-1 win over soon to be promoted Bromsgrove in the league cup would be the standout result from 1992. The Midlands side would win promotion to the GM Vauxhall Conference that season (no idea if they sponsored it but I just like the name) but they would be undone by a tremendous team performance at The Avenue. Two goals for Tony Diaz and one each from Paul Masters and Gary Green would see us take a 4-1 lead into the second leg, but that’s only part of the story. We had to use both of our subs inside 30 minutes (yep, only 2 subs then), and when Pete Morrell was stretched off after 64 minutes with no feeling in his previously broken leg, we were down to 10 men. Staggeringly, Pete would return to the pitch for the final 10 minutes as we held off late pressure to take a big win that would give the club and the dressing room a boost.

Big spending Crawley came to town in 1995 and had David Speedie amongst others in their side, but we had a few handy players of our own. Taffy Richardson, Owen Pickard and Tommy Killick goals would see us emerge as 3-1 winners over the money side in the league and the game would be excellently summed up as; “one of those glorious ‘we’re quite good actually’ moments of pride that come around all so rarely come around as a Magpies fan.” A high scoring classic would see us overcome Salisbury 4-3 in the qualifying rounds of the FA Cup in the year that would eventually see us face Wigan in the first-round proper. Two Matt Lonnon strikes and single efforts from Andy Harris and Owen Pickard were enough to get the job done in a real end to end game.

We’re not sure there are any greater winning margins in the league than a Martin Shepherd inspired 8-1 thumping of St Leonards on our way to the title in 2003 [edit-we won a game 9-0 that season at home against Spalding]. Shep would net 4 that day and he also kindly allowed Justin Keeler, Matty Holmes, Stuart Cooper and Mark Jermyn to score as well as we would utterly rout the lowly opposition. There was another nine-goal game in and around this time as we would defeat Stamford 5-4 having been 4-1 down. Frustratingly, I can’t find any information on this one other than the result, so that will remain a mystery for the time being. A 5-4 injury time win over Sutton in 2006 with a last gasp Groover winner adding to two Dave Town strikes and goals from Mark Robinson and Justin Keeler in a game that had a red card and a penalty was a real thriller, a late 3-2 win over Welling in 2005 would keep faint promotion hopes alive as Warren Byerley would score a late clincher, and we couldn’t look at memorable games without looking at local derby matches.

Justin Keeler and Glenn Howes would secure a 2-0 win over our rivals in January of 2006, the battle that was the 2-2 draw on New Years Day in 2004 saw Browner and Steve Claridge clash in between Alex Browne and a Matt Hann goals, and the game when player/manager Mark Jermyn would fire in the only goal in a 1-0 win on August bank holiday in 2015 are all memorable for many reasons. Two Justin Keeler goals and a Matt Lonnon injury time winner would be the difference in a 3-2 victory in the Dorset Senior Cup in the early part of the millennium, and Mark Jermyn and Nick Crittenden’s final game on Boxing Day in 2016, a hard fought 1-1 draw was an notable day on many levels. I could go on for a while talking about wins that meant something, but that’s not the point.

Dishonourable mentions.

Where to begin with this… A strong side was dumped out of the Dorset Senior Cup by the mighty Swanage in 1991 in one of the first real stinkers at the new ground. An XI that included terrace heroes such as Paul Thorpe, Pete Morrell, Tony Diaz, Gary Borthwick, Neil Coates, Tony White were soundly beaten 2-0 by the Wessex League outfit but sadly that wasn’t the only disappointment the club would have to deal with. Owen Pickard has less than fond memories of Gravesend at home in the mid 1990’s as he missed two penalties and then proceeded to give the ball away which resulted in their equaliser. Thankfully for Owen this was a draw and not a defeat. Our form was so bad at home in 1994 (8L, 4D, 2W) that we took the unusual step of having the club chaplain come in to help lift a curse that had been placed on the ground by a local wizard. And no, I am not making this up. A curse was placed on the ground by the Wizard of the Wessex due to a dispute with the Dutchy, who own the land the stadium is built on. Please see the article below as the quotes genuinely have to be seen to be believed.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/football-curse-lifted-1428943.htm

Other notable defeats were to follow and to be honest, having lost 24 games in the league in 2000-01 on our way to relegation, you can take your pick from that lot. After returning to the Dr Martens Premier Division and then into the newly formed Conference South we would suffer a 0-7 defeat to champions elect, Grays Athletic, who were full time and powered to the league title. Mark Morris’ final home game, a 3-0 loss against Histon was a depressing day all around, and our eventual relegation from the Conference South was every bit as sombre as you’d imagine it to be. Sadly, we then come to the Southern League seasons of recent time which has been an utter abomination on the whole. A real low point was the tragic death of Alex ‘gangster’ Legge, popular figure and kitman, in September of 2014. He sudden death shocked the whole club, but Truro’s alleged insistence of playing the fixture on the day of his death left a sour taste. The 1-2 defeat that followed did little to ease the pain of a horrific week for all involved at the club. Both Alex and his late father, Stacey Legge, have had seats purchased in their honour in the main stand as part of the club’s ‘sponsor a seat’ project.

Last season was abysmal and we were reprieved by a deadly pandemic which tell you all you need to know. That said, a 0-5 loss at home to Salisbury, a 1-5 score line vs Tiverton were soul destroying, but the biscuit is taken by grinding out a 2-2 draw with Walton Casuals. On the face of it, a point is no bad thing. But having been 1-0 up when Walton has thier keeper sent off, put an outfield player in goal and then proceeding to go 2-1 down to said 10 men with a midfielder in goal, a point earned deep into injury time really is a disaster. Other Southern League . shockers include nearly all of Graham Kemp and Craig Laird’s games with Mick Jenkins and Shaun Brooks having their fair share of stinkers in there as well. But, enough of this. Here is the best and indeed the worst 5 games as picked by TSOF Think Tankto commemorate the last three decades of DTFC at The Avenue Stadium.

Best; Dorchester 3-2 Worcester, 18/08/1990.

30 years to the day since this match which is by more luck than judgement, but a very fitting tribute to what was the first league match at the new ground. At first glance, a 3-2 win was likely to be an exciting game regardless of the ins and outs of it. But the result only really tells a fraction of the story. The crowd of 1,250 were witness to a remarkable game that saw Dorchester goalkeeper, Jeremy Judd, sent off inside the first 20 minutes for a professional foul with the score at 2-1 to The Magpies. This saw full-back, Pete Morrell take the gloves for well over an hour, and despite playing the pre-season promotion favourites, two Robbie Taylor goals and a strike from Harry Sayers alongside a heroic rear-guard action would see the first league game at the ground yield 3 points for Keith Miller’s side. As Jeremy Judd recalls, it was an expensive night for him in the players bar, but five goals, three points, a 1,000+ crowd, incident and a gutsy performance would set a high bar of what to expect from games at our new home.

The first ever Dorchester Town FC squad to play at the new ground, 1990-91.

Worst; Dorchester 1-3 Weymouth, 26/12/1990.

Fast forward a few months and the first local derby at the stadium would be an absolute disaster. A 1-3 home loss to your local rivals is bad enough. But with a 3,000+ crowd there to witness it against a Weymouth side who would get relegated, finish rock bottom and only win 4 games all season was a really difficult result to take. Add to that the fact that manager Keith Miller, who had been in charge when we won the league in 1986-87, was sacked after the game, it was a shocker in every way possible. Gary Green would score our solitary goal and we would only win 1 game in 7 between Boxing Day and February 2nd, including a four-game stretch without a goal as we’d finish our first season at the new ground in 11th place. Weymouth would finish bottom with only 24 points, but four of those would come against the Magpies.

Best; Dorchester 7-1 Merthyr Tydfil, 05/09/1995.

The 1995-96 season would be more notable for our run to the FA Cup first round against Oxford (sadly a 9-1 loss…) than our 13th placed finish in a season which we struggled with injuries. But that’s not to say the season wasn’t without success. Not only was this the month where we beat big spending Crawley 3-1, as was mentioned earlier, we would also pummel a hapless Merthyr Tydfil on an early season Tuesday night in September. Solitary efforts from Paul Wilkinson, Andy Gater, Taffy Richardson, Tommy Killick along with a hat trick from the prolific Owen Pickard. It hadn’t been a great start to the season, but this result would help us kick on with the cup run and the Crawley win all coming in this timeframe. With Stuart Morgan at the helm, this was a Magpies side which included fan favourites Neil Coates, Tony White, Pickard, Killick, Richardson, Ken Veysey and many more. One of the first real hammerings dished out by us at The Avenue, there won’t be many times we’ve scored 7 or more over the years

Worst; Dorchester 2-3 Woking, 01/03/1997.

Now despite being a defeat, this almost made the best 5. But having a loss in the best 5 of the last 30 years was a bit too much, even for us. A crowd of almost 3,000 were in attendance for the FA Trophy third round tie, and there was plenty of intrigue as Hans Segers signed on loan for Woking, despite being embroiled in a match fixing scandal at the time. Segers was duly showered with Monopoly money by the home fans and subjected to what would have been an uncomfortable afternoon for a man who was used to playing in the FA Carling Premiership until recently. This was no bad Dorchester side though. Killick, Richardson, Pickard, Criag Taylor, Russell Coughlin, Neil Coates, Martyn Sullivan, Toby Redwood and many more were all in this side who has overcome Slough after 2 replays, and both sides would put on a show. We would take an early lead thorough Tommy Killick, but would be pegged back to 1-1 before halftime. Then would come the drama. Kicking towards our fans at the bypass end, Segers would bring down Tommy Killick and give away a penalty, and despite saving Craig Taylor’s initial effort, Owen Pickard was first to the rebound to put us 2-1 up after 65 minutes. Segers was well and truly in the fans cross hairs, but two Woking goals in the last eight minutes would see us fall to a narrow 3-2 defeat. This wasn’t the last incident of note as after Woking’s third goals, Segers had decided to return to the favour to the home fans as he celebrated in front of them. This would draw the ire of the local policeman who would go onto the pitch to reprimand Segers in front of 3,000 people. Segers would have the last laugh as the final whistle blew and despite it being a spirited performance and an excellent game, this make the worst 5 due to the sickening nature of the defeat.

 Best; Dorchester 2-1 Eastbourne Borough, 01/04/2003.

This may have taken place on April Fool’s Day, but it is a notable highpoint and a game that really started our kick towards promotion and eventually, the league title. Eastbourne Borough were the league leaders coming into the game, and a win was key to our hopes of overturning the deficit at the top of the table. A draw was a much better result for the visitors than us, and that was the way it was heading as the game went into the last 10 minutes. An early Matt Hann header with 12 minutes played, following work by man of the match Matty Holmes, was cancelled out after 63 minutes following an error from the usually reliable Mark Ormerod. However, Holmes wasn’t finished. Having been a menace to the Borough defence all night, Holmes would embark on a run with 84 minutes on the clock, skipping away from a defender and letting loose a left footed shot from 20 yards. It wasn’t sweetly struck by any means, but the wet ball squirmed through the away keepers grasp and rolled into the back of the net. Cue pandemonium from the fans assembled at the Tesco end who had been getting a soaking on what was a miserable night weather wise. We’d hold on for a vital win and this would be part of a remarkable run of 16 wins in our last 17 matches, culminating in a 1-0 home win over Kings Lynn in the final game of the season that would see us pip Eastbourne to the title on goal difference. The importance of this win on a wet Tuesday cannot be underestimated as we would score 114 goals in 42 games en route to the title.

Worst; Dorchester 1-4 St Albans, 17/09/2005.

When high flying St Albans came to town in a season that would see our visitors win promotion to the Conference National, manager Mark Morris had a plan. The pitch was narrowed by a few yards on either side to stop St Albans getting behind us as easily as they had other sides and make it easier to keep our backline tight. When we went 1-0 up inside 30 seconds though a Justin Keeler thunderbolt, it seemed like this plan might work. How wrong we were. Inspired by ex-Magpie, Matt Hann, the free-flowing visitors would tear us apart. The prolific Simon Martin and Lee Clarke would have a field day, including one goal that came from one our own corners as St Albans countered and scored within 10 seconds of us taking the set piece. It was abysmal and was part of a run of 17 goals conceded at home in only four games. It left Morris furious and telling players to show more passion or look for a different club, saying eight of the eleven on the pitch hadn’t been good enough. We would eventually finish 11th as things improved, but this was a lesson taught in the harshest of ways.

Best; Dorchester 4-1 Weymouth, 26/12/2004.

When we decided to limit this to one Weymouth game in the ‘best’ category, this was the one that stood out above all others. Weymouth manager Steve Johnson had boldly proclaimed that Matt Groves and the rest of the Dorchester side weren’t good enough to play for Weymouth. The best way to respond? Thrashing them 4-1 with Matt Groves ramming Johnson’s words down his throat with a hat trick as Mark Jermyn netted the other goal in this absolute mauling. It was another bumper festive crowd of 3,000+ that witnessed this one sided thumping as Mark Morris’ side were the better team from start to finish. It was as good a Dorchester side as we’ve had in years with quality all the way through the side. From Craig Bradshaw in goal, Radders, Jem, Keeler, Browner, Jose Barandiarain and more, it was a side that would fall agonisingly short of the playoffs. But this fixture provided much festive cheer, and of all the derby games played at the new ground, this one nudges out the competition to take top spot.

Worst; Dorchester 0-3 Weymouth, 26/12/2014.

This was as bleak as it sounds. To say the bloom was off the rose for manager Graham Kemp would be an understatement. We were in freefall, on a four-game losing streak which had seen an agonising late 3-4 defeat at home to Paulton and the quite ridiculous spectacle of a 6-5 defeat at St Neots. Dissention amongst the fans, poor performances on the pitch, AWH and Nathan Walker both being dropped for discipline-based issues, and a relegation battle staring us in the face. Just the time you want your local rivals who are on an upward curve coming to town. We were second best everywhere and despite going in level at halftime, it wasn’t to last as two penalties and a late third goal to add further salt to a somewhat gaping wound would see our descent into a relegation battle continue. Thankfully, Kemp’s time was soon to come to an end. Three more games were all he would last before Mark Jermyn would return to the club as player/manager, steer us away from trouble and provide us with the hope things would improve as we moved into next season. This wasn’t to last but at least it was better than this Boxing Day embarrassment which was the lowest ebb of several lows we’d encounter in this period.

Best; Dorchester 1-0 Plymouth, 04/12/2012. 

The obvious choice for this piece, this is the undoubted peak of life at The Avenue Stadium. FA Cup First Round, live on ESPN, a strong Magpies side, league opposition, a big crowd and the feeling that anything could happen. The Vic was drunk dry of cider in the pre-match festivities, and as the game began, we were given a helping hand as future Premier League player Conor Hourihane would be sent off early in the first half. A Charlie Clough header would strike the post and it would be a tough slog on a cold wet November afternoon. But early in the second half a deep Jake Smeeton cross was turned back into the danger area by Mark Jermyn. Loanee Jake Gosling was on hand to turn the ball into the roof of the net and secure us a famous, historic win. It is one of the high points of the club’s entire history, let alone at the new ground and one that will live long in the memories of fans for years to come.

Worst; Dorchester 0-6 Farnborough, 15/01/2019.

Our final match is one that is once again, as bad as it sounds. Three days after the narrow 2-1 defeat away at Barnet in the FA Trophy, our league form was patchy at best as we were descending into a possible relegation battle. A cold February Tuesday night would leave fans in no doubt as to how dire things were as we were battered on our own patch by an inconsistent Farnborough side. The signs were there early that it would be a long night with the visitors being afforded the space to shoot twice inside the opening minute. We would be 2-0 down by half-time and that would be a slightly flattering score as far as our performance was concerned. After the break, we’d fall apart as four more goals would compound our misery as our reliance on loanees Harry Kite, Brennan Camp and Ben Seymour would be evident for all to see. The three loanees who had been so impressive three days earlier at The Hive were unavailable due to commitments with their parent clubs, and their absence and the score showed just how important they were. Manager Steve Thompson would only last a handful of further games before the axe fell, and Callum Brooks would guide us to safety. What happened following that is a blur of coronavirus and embarrassing defeats…

With the pre-season program starting tonight as we face Winchester at home in a ‘behind closed doors’ friendly, we can only hope things improve and we can add games into the best rather than the worst category in coming months. We have no doubt missed several games, so do let us know which ones. Up the Magpies, don’t forget to buy your 505/50 tickets online for tonight’s friendly! We’ll have Cherry Magpie providing us updates from the safety of Guyer’s cherry picker in the railway side carpark. SV.

“Crawley’s need is far greater than that of Barbados.”

In amongst half arsed games, in empty stadiums, with a VAR system that makes the standard of officiating in the Southern League look borderline competent, one thing has become abundantly clear; Danny Ings is quite good. Now this is something that will not come as any great surprise to Dorchester fans. We saw his potential and all realised that his performances against a team of tradesmen in the Dorset Senior Cup would one day see him playing at the highest level and internationally. That is of course a slight (massive) exaggeration, but his performances were that of a player who would move onto better things. His ability to cut through teams and dictate games was evident in outings against Weston-super-Mare and Dartford, but his rise to one of the top English stars in the Premier League was not on the cards back in 2010. When he was capped by England in 2015 in a Euro 2016 qualifier against Lithuania in Vilnius he would become the second (we think) player to play for Dorchester to go on to represent England. So this got us thinking, who else has played internationally and for Dorch, and can we make an 11 from them?

Well, after making my Google search history even more bizarre than it already is, here is an exceptionally attacking 4-3-3 of players to have represented their county and The Magpies. These are full internationals, not under 21 or C caps, so some players here may have had shorter spells, with some players playing at a higher level than others. It is a very eclectic mix with some names that you may have never heard of or not remember, but if it was a brilliant squad then that would be no fun at all…

Goalkeeper; Benjamin Büchel.

Signing in February of 2013 by then manager Phil Simkin, Benji was acquired on loan to provide competition for Jason Matthews. In the three games he would play he would look every bit the international keeper he was. That was until he snapped his anterior cruciate ligament in a 2-1 loss away at Bromley which would see his loan end. Benji would go on to play for more clubs on loan following his recovery before having a more settled couple of seasons at Oxford between 2015-17, but he had been involved in the international setup for his native Liechtenstein for large parts this period with 29 caps to his name following his debut vs Slovakia in 2008, with his last cap coming in a 3-0 loss against Bosnia in the Euro 2020 qualifiers in November of 2019. Benji takes the number 1 jersey for his short tenure with us and will be marshalling this defence…

Fullback; Ludovic Quistin.

The cousin of former French international William Gallas, fullback Ludovic Quistin was at Dorch for a cup of coffee in 2006 under manager Mick Jenkins. Three games would be all the Guadeloupe international fullback would manage at the club before he moved on for trials with Luton, Leyton Orient and Brentford. These trials would come to nothing and Ludo would join another small Southern based non-league team in his seemingly obscure quest to play for as many random sides as possible. Well done if you have any memory of Quistin or his three appearances. His club history reads like a staggeringly depressing non-league train journey, but in this time, he did make nine appearances for Guadeloupe, the first coming in 2007 in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which is a football tournament and not a horse race. Sadly, Ludovic was killed in a traffic accident in his home country in 2012. 


Fullback; Ronayne Marsh-Brown.

Another fullback with a lengthy club history that reads like a list of places worth avoiding, the Chiswick born left-back would join the club under Shaun Brooks and play the bulk of that season, including both games in the memorable FA Cup first round tie against Oxford United, before moving to Bath. Ronayne would earn the first of his five caps for Guyana in 2018, once again in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, in a 3-0 win against Barbados and played internationally as recently as June of 2019. These caps mean that he takes the left back slot with Ludovic Quistin at right back in this obscure team.

Centre back; Patrece Liburd.

Patrece Liburd, or as he is better known to some Magpies fans; ‘FIVE PATRECE LIBUUUURD’, following his appearance as number 5 on the team sheet on the night that Deadly Derrien decided that it would be the 12 Magpies of Christmas rather than a match day squad. Another Shaun Brooks signing, Patrece would be club captain after signing a 12-month contract in 2008. The clubs perilous financial state would see Patrece and a number of other players leave midway through that season, but he is a rarity in that he represented his country whilst at Dorch. Notable for his last minute winner at home to Maidenhead in a game that was watched by a record low for a league game of 144, fans Patrece would make four appearances for St Kitts and Nevis with his first cap coming in 2008. He forms one half of the central defensive pairing with…

Centre back; Graham Roberts.

The first man to feature in this side with a genuine club and international record, Graham Roberts would start his career at Dorch before moving onto much bigger and better things. After failing to make the grade at youth level with both Southampton and Portsmouth, Graham would be signed for Dorch by manager David Best in 1977. Played in a more advanced position for us before his move to the back as he progressed in the game, Graham would score an impressive 33 goals in 79 games between 1977-79 before his £6,000 move over hill at the start of the title winning 1979-80 campaign. A genuine hardman as well as an excellent player, Graham would win six England caps between 1983-84, which make him the first man to ever play for Dorchester before going onto to gain full a full international cap for England. He would also win both domestic and European silverware with Spurs before further success with Rangers and Chelsea. Suffice to say, he’ll be doing a lot of the heavy lifting in this defensive unit. 

Defensive midfielder; Gus Hurdle.

Gus Hurdle is a man who also went on to better things after a season in the black and white stripes that included guesting on ‘Fantasy Football’ with Baddiel and Skinner. 1993-94 saw Gus play in defence under Stuart Morgan, and his season with us would see him move to Brentford where he would make a decent league career for himself with 71 appearances for the London club. Stats about Gus’ time at Dorch are hard to come by, but given we know he played for us and this side needs defensive cover, he’s in. Gus would eventually make seven appearances for Barbados with his first cap coming in 1996. Gus knew what was important though, as this interview from 2000 shows; 

In March 2000, he turned down a chance to play internationally to help Crawley Town in their Southern Football League Premier Division relegation battle, stating he would prefer to play against Dorchester Town saying it was the “bigger game”. He said: “Crawley’s need is far greater than that of Barbados. They’ll be able to get a result without me, but it’s big match for Crawley and a game we can’t afford to lose”.

Crawley duly beat us 2-0 and Gus scored. Asshole. 


Attacking Midfield; Gavin McCallum.

Signed on loan from Yeovil by manager Mick Jenkins, Gavin would score five goals in 15 games proving a successful signing. Two goals in a 3-2 win at Thurrock would endear him to the fans and his spell would be a profitable one before multiple moves after that would follow, with Weymouth, Sutton, Havant and Eastbourne all being clubs he would represent. But for the purpose of this piece, it is his one cap for Canada against Venezuela that sees him make this particular XI. He would score a 92nd minute equaliser in the 1-1 draw. That was his only appearance, making him the David Nugent of Ontario.


Attacking Midfield; Jake Gosling.

Scorer of one of the most famous DTFC goals ever with his winner against Plymouth in the FA Cup, Jake also holds the distinction of being second top international scorer for Gibraltar with two goals. Signed on loan by Phil Simkin from Exeter in 2012, he’d be the man to turn in Mark Jermyn’s pass as we knocked Plymouth out of the FA Cup in 2012, a game seen around the world on live TV (I say around the world, I watched it in Brussels so that will do). He was a key part of the Dorch side that finished with a joint record points tally for that level, and he would score on his Gibraltar debut in a 2014 friendly during a 1-1 in Estonia, before scoring the nation’s second ever competitive goal in an 8-1 loss to Poland in 2015. 


Foward; Jackie Henderson.

This is where the pedigree of the side improves somewhat. 350+ football league appearances between 1947-64 with seven Scotland caps and one goal, Jackie would make 217 appearances and score 70 goals for Portsmouth, making his debut for the recent champions of England in 1951. Jackie would play in the same Portsmouth side as future Dorch manager, the Belgian Marcel Gaillard, although the two would never be at Dorchester at the same time. Jackie would go for combined transfer fees of over £50,000 in his career, the conversion to today’s rates would no doubt be in the millions. In that time, he’d score over 100 goals for Portsmouth, Wolves, Arsenal and Fulham, before a broken leg would end his professional career. He’d move to Poole in 1964 where he would help them win promotion to the Southern Premier League, before Bob Forrest would recruit him for Dorchester in 1967, where he would remain until 1971. He would make 134 Magpies appearances, scoring 44 goals in that time before his retirement. He would spend 30 years working as a store man in a builder’s merchant in Poole after settling in the area before he sadly passed away aged 73 in 2005.

Forward; Ron Davies.

Another man with a club history that has to be seen to be believed, Ron Davies’ journey was one that includes many recognisable names rather than some of the non-league travels mentioned previously. A legend at Southampton, Davies also played at Portsmouth, Norwich, Manchester United, Luton, before finishing off at the fantastically named Tulsa Roughnecks and Seattle Sounders. His record of 29 games with nine goals for Wales included a double against Scotland and spectacular goal against England at Wembley in the British Home Championship. Davis, who used to leap over hurdles in army boots to help his jumping, would score seven goals in 17 games for The Magpies in the 1976-77 season under manager David Best as we’d finish fourth that season before heading for the USA. Ron would sadly pass away aged 70 in 2013.


Forward; Danny Ings.

Ah, Danny Ings. When Ings was signed on loan by manager Ashley Vickers at the same time as Guiseppe Sole also joined on loan, Ings was seen as the less interesting of the two. How wrong we were. Nine games and four goals isn’t a long spell but his performances and work ethic were enough to endear himself to fans. There was talk of a permanent transfer to the club, but a striker crisis at Bournemouth would see him return to his parent club and by the season’s end he was scoring in a losing effort in the League One play off semi. Bournemouth to Burnley, to Liverpool to Southampton would be the route his career would take, with full England representation coming away in Lithuania in October of 2015. That remains his sole full cap at the moment (13 games and four goals for the under 21’s) but that will surely change given his fantastic return this season. Given my Portsmouth allegiance, I won’t be too effusive in my praise. 

Substitutes/coaching team;

Player/Manager; Martin Chivers.

A half season spell as manager in the 1980-81 campaign for ex-Spurs and England Forward sees him take the honour of trying to get something from this team of oddities. 24 England caps and 13 goals, with 19 of those appearances coming in competitive games as well as 10 goals, he is probably the most decorated international on the list. Multiple domestic honours and a very good international strike rate, his seven goals in 19 games for Dorch was impressive and hopefully he sticks around for longer with this side than he did in his actual real-life reign at the club.


Player/coach; Don O’Riordan.

Midfielder Don has a loan spell at Dorch in 1997 which we can’t find anything about. But we do know he has had spell on the coaching teams with both China’s female team and South Africa’s women’s set up. So we gain an much needed midfield option as well as a coach, quite the two for one. 


Player/physio; Paul Maxwell.

We think Paul is a defender, but he is definitely a physio and an international physio at that. He was the Ghana physio at the 2019 African Cup of Nations. A short spell with us in the 1990’s and an African Cup of Nations makes him the ideal bench material for this eclectic mix.


Forward; Kieffer Moore.

13 games and seven goals for Dorch and five games with two goals so far for Wales are worthy of inclusion here. With the somewhat lightweight defence we have here, we’ll need goals on the bench so a man with these kinds of ratios will be more than handy as well as being able to fill in at centre back.


Forward; Rory Fallon.

Even by our standards, this was a particularly unusual signing. Two starts and no goals under Thommo, Rory was with us mainly to get fit for the part he could potentially play in a vital World Cup qualification playoff for New Zealand. He would not add to his 24 games and six goals for NZ in their two legged playoff loss and would promptly retire afterwards, never playing for us again. He did play in the 2010 World Cup for NZ, making him the only player to have ever played for us and in the World Cup finals. We think.


Goalkeeper; Matt Cafer.

Matt was with the club for a while in the 2017 season but never played. But he was our player and he has played twice for Gibraltar, so by that virtue he will be the final man on the bench just so we can say we have a starting XI and a full subs bench, reserve keeper and all.

And there you have it, an internationally capped Dorchester XI, complete with an almost full bench and coaching side. 165 international caps and 32 international goals. Have we missed anyone? The more obscure the better… We might have some actual football to write about soon, but in the meantime, enjoy this most bizarre trip down memory lane. Hopefully the season does start soon, even we’re running a bit low on obscure topics to keep us going. SV