“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

“He had a yard and a half arse, not many defenders were getting round him.”

After a few months of inactivity, football is most definitely back as the Twitter timeline is full of complaints about VAR and tweets from non league players running around cones in their back gardens and in parks to show others just how “buzzing” they are for the new season. We’ve even signed a few players with some retained, some returning and some new, so welcome to those if any of them happen to find themselves reading this. We’ll fully believe that the season is approaching when rumours of Nathan Peprah-Anan turning up for pre-season on Hardye’s field start to circulate.

As I’m sure you’ll remember all too well, last season was not a classic in the DTFC historical annals as we were rock bottom prior to getting a lucky coronavirus based reprieve from relegation. But this is not the first time we’ve received a reprieve after having an awful season. Victory in the AGM Cup in 2007-08 saw us fortuitously saved from relegation due to Nuneaton Borough’s liquidation and the Conference’s decision to expel Boston United after we’d finished second bottom, but this wasn’t the first time either. So despite the fact that this is a piece about a successful title winning campaign, to understand the 1986-87 triumph, we’ll start with the disaster of 1985-86.

The 1980’s was a strange time to support Dorch. A league title win in 1979-80 under caretaker manager Stuart Bell would start the decade in style, but the Martin Chivers experiment the following season would only last six months before Bell would return in full charge as our title defence resulted in a 6th place finish. A 3rd place finish would follow as we’d also come agonisingly close to the FA Cup Third Round in 1981-82, before a respectable 9th place would be the result back in our first season in the newly reformed Southern Premier League in 1982-83. This is where the problems would start. Relegated back into the Southern League South in 1983-84 with what is as far as I can tell is our record low points tally of 20 (for a completed season) amidst an on going financial crisis, Keith ‘Dusty’ Miller would take over for the 1984-85 season as player-manager. A bit of stability would follow with a 14th spot in this season, but disaster would follow as 1985-86 would see us finish bottom by 15 points. our tally of 23 points is the second lowest in the clubs history since 3 points for a win was introduced as a rule (we finished with 21 points in 1951-52 in the days of 2 points for a win).

In that season we wouldn’t win in the league until December 21st, drawing only three games before that victory, a 2-1 win vs Andover who would finish second bottom. We would also go seven games without scoring prior to that victory, with our tallies of 35 scored and 94 conceded making us the worst side in the league both in terms of attack and defence. We’d use 33 players over the course of the season, which is very high considering there was only one substitute allowed in those days. 21 of those players playing 10 games or less. In dire straits financially with relegation to come, things looked bleak to say the least. However, this is where thing started to change. The financial crisis the club were in was eased and allowed the club to operate normally rather than relying on the manager calling in favours to name an 11, and in a stroke of luck, no clubs were relegated from the Southern League South. We’re not 100% sure as to why, but it’s quite possible that a promoted side from the tier below did not have their ground up to standard among many clubs folding or withdrawing from surrounding league. Either way, we stayed up despite being relegated and were presented with a chance to re-build.

Fortress Avenue.

The club were able to retain something of the core of a side going into the 1986-87 campaign with defenders Trevor Townsend, Peter Loveridge, Peter Morrell, Tony White all still remaining, forward Craig Morrison and midfielder Mark Baber all stayed having played at least some part in the previous campaign. Goalkeeper Martyn Jones joined from Poole along with Robbie Russell, Brian Chambers came in from Swanage, Steve Crabb arrived from Bridport and Gary Borthwick signed from rivals Weymouth. This would be the bulk of the squad that would play the majority of the season out, although there was a second arrival from over the hill that’ll we’ll come to later. Defender Pete Morrell would recall that the aims at the start of the season were simple;

” We were just looking to re-build and consolidate. It was pretty much a brand new side that would take time to gel after a really bad season the year before and we’d only stayed up due the team from the feeder leagues having a ground that wasn’t up to standard. We never really thought we’d win it.”

Steve Crabb goes up for a header.

After the pre-season re-boot, we would start in true Dorchester fashion with a 0-2 loss at home to Dunstable. This would be followed up the next week with the first points of the season as a win by the same scoreline over Erith and Belvedere, Gary Borthwick and Craig Morrison with the goals. The first month would be rounded off with a 2-2 draw at Hastings (Baber and Morrison on target) and a 1-0 home win over Corinthian courtesy of a Trevor Townsend goal. September would see only two league games played due to the weather that would yield a draw a a loss, so with six games played, it was two of each in terms of draws, victories and defeats. Pete Morrell would miss some of the early games as he struggled with his fitness following his recovery from a badly broken leg (fibula and tibia) he sustained the previous season, but there was a reason for this;

“I was doing shift work which affected training and evening games the season before so it came down to a choice between football and work. So I chose to quit the job and get a new one which meant I could focus on football! I played a few reserve games to get back to fitness and worked my way back in after half a dozen games or so. Just before Christmas I got two late goals for us to get a draw at home to Hastings. There was a big night out after that.”

And by that game just before Christmas, we were in a seriously rich vein of form. In a remarkable run we would score at least two goals in every game starting with the 3-0 home win over Ruislip on October 11th, all the way through to a 0-1 home defeat to Andover on February 3rd. Results in the October to February run would be excellent. 10 wins in 13 games with two draws and a loss, that loss being a 4-3 defeat at Waterlooville, having been 0-3 up at halftime. Keith Miller’s theory on how to recover from a loss was simple; “if we lose, we can’t lose the next game.” And we didn’t lose back to back games all season. In fact after starting the season with a loss and a draw, we would win the following game after each of our six losses. ‘Bouncebackability.’

Goals were coming from all over the pitch in this spell with Craig Morrison leading the line with what Keith Miller would describe as his “yard and a half arse” that enabled him to back into defenders with few able to get round his circumference. Morrison would end the season as top scorer with 19 league goals, but more than useful contributions came from a number of sources. Pete Morrell would score seven with a good few from a free-kick routine borrowed from a youngster called Stuart Pearce from Wealdstone, Mark Baber and Robbie Russell would bag eight goals a piece, Peter Loveridge (six) and Gary Borthwick(five) would contribute 11 goals between and Steve Crabb would notch 10 times as well as assisting many more. There was one other player who would hit double figures for the season and his arrival is one of the two key points of the season that Pete Morrell identifies, both occuring in December. The Boxing Day fixture, a 2-0 home win over Trowbridge was one of the key games of the season, and it was around this time that a youngster by the name of Tony Diaz would join from 8 miles over the hill.

Peter Loveridge in action.

Joining on the recommendation of assistant manger Phil Simkin, Tony had been used mainly as a substitute by Weymouth prior to his departure and in the days of only one sub, having a bit of versatility in that one player was vital. As a result of this, Tony would feature at the back and in midfield but his move to Dorch and an injury to Robbie Russell would provide him to play up top alongside Craig Morrison. A debut goal in a 1-3 win at Poole Town the day after the Boxing Day win over Trowbridge would help him settle in quickly, and he’d finish with 16 goals in 21 games (17 starts, 4 as sub) at the end of the season. Well in title contention with a growing belief that this form could be sustained, we’d win all three games in January by an aggregate of 10-4, Morrison scoring all four in a 4-1 home win to avenge the defeat in the away game at Waterlooville as the title charge would carry into 1987.

Two losses in Feburay would each be responded to by a victory. A 0-1 defeat to Andover would be followed by a 4-0 thumping of Sheppy United with Diaz (2), Morrell and Morrison on target, and a 2-1 loss at Woodford saw us in the next game 3-2 at home to Chatham with Diaz and a Steve Crabb double doing the damage. The Sheppy United game would see the start of run that saw Tony Diaz score 15 goals in the next 14 games, with the majority of games seeing us take the points. A 2-1 home win over title chasing Ashford courtesy of a goal each from Diaz and Morrison would be vital in the context of the season, and our ability to win games by the odd goal proved invaluable in this time. Not every game was close though as we would win by a 7-0 scoreline at Canterbury on March 28th, with Craig Morrison grabbing his second 4 goal haul of the season along with solitary goals from Baber, Diaz and Crabb.

Into April and two draws would follow the 7-0 mauling. A 0-0 at home to Dover Athletic could be seen as a bad result, but with us reduced to 10 men due to a red card early on, Dover seemed content to take a point and never really attacked making for a reasonably easy afternoon for Martyn Jones and his defence. A 2-2 would follow on the Tuesday night at home against Woodford with Loveridge and Steve Crabb scoring our goals, and you could be forgiven for thinking our momentum may be coming to a halt. But a 2-1 win that Saturday in Tonbridge would prove that wasn’t the case, before an away trip to relegation threatened Ruislip would follow on the Tuesday night. It’s a game fondly remembered by both Tony Diaz and Pete Morrell, although not because it was a footballing classic.

PM; “Ruislip’s drainage had gone so it was an awful pitch. Some patches were rock solid, some parts would take a stud and other parts were like quicksand. We got a free kick way out in the boggy area and I just did what I could to get it into the box and their keeper totally mistimed his jump due to the bog and could only flap at it and tip it behind him. Tony was coming in behind him and scored with a diving header and it was a very important win. He got some vital goals that season, him and Martyn Jones were two of the real key signings.”

TD; “It was a really scrappy game. It was a bare, hard pitch, on a horrible windy night. I got the goal with a diving header after a free kick got played in and it was a deserved, key win. The sort of game champions win.”

Tony Diaz with a trademark diving header.

After that vital win would come a 3-1 home success over Burnham (Diaz 2, Borthwick) on the Saturday, but a Monday night defeat away at Trowbridge would put a spanner in the works. Things were still in our own hands though, and a 5-2 win at Corinthian with goals courtesy of Baber, Loveridge and hat-trick for the returning Robbie Russell would see us ensure promotion back to the Southern Premier. Steve Crabb would create four out of the 5 goals and we’d gonefull circle from a club that by rights should have been relegated to winning promotion. The only remaining question was could we win the league. As Pete Morrell put it, “we’d not been up there to get shot at” all season, with Ashford and Woodford being the front runners for much of the time. Woodford would lose their two key players to a bigger side, and Ashford would stutter just enough to allow us to sneak in during the final stretch with two draws and a loss in the final five games compared to our four wins and a loss. Our final game of the season? Away at Ashford.

The travelling Dorch fans at Ashford’s Estella park on the season’s final day.

After we’d secured our promotion at Corinthian on the Sunday, Ashford did the same three days later on the Tuesday. But with fixture congestion, Ashford would have to play again on the Thursday and would fall to a 3-1 defeat at Woodford, when a win would have seen them go top an lead us by two points going into our winner take all game on the Saturday. As it was, we were top by one point with it all in our hands. The equation was simple in theory; avoid defeat and win the title. But we were the away side and it was Ashford’s final game at their Essella Park ground before moving. There was a 1,000+ crowd to contend with, as well as a hard, bare pitch to be played on. With a good travelling support making the journey from DT1, it was sure to be a tense affair and it proved to be just that as we would battle our way to a 0-0 draw to secure the title to go along with promotion. Described as an “ugly game” by Pete Morrell, as he quite rightly pointed out, “the result was more important than the performance.” It had been a stunning turn around after the horrors of the season before, and despite a few visiting Millwall fans who were intent on causing trouble, it was job done. The league was ours, the title presented on the pitch and the players and fans could celebrate and remarkable achievement.

The players line up before the title decider at Ashford on the final day.

It was a title win in which every player did their bit. We had the best attack in the league with 83 goals scored as well as the second tightest defence with 42 conceded. 13 players played in 20 or more of the games with the central defensive partnership of Loveridge and Townsend playing every single match. Fullbacks Morrell (34) and White (35) barely missed a game, and they were backed up by the excellent Martyn Jones in goal. Crabb (10), Chambers (one), Borthwick (five) and Baber (eight) contributed 24 goals combined on top of the vast number that were created, Gary Borthwick helping in stopping just as many with his efforts in the centre of the pitch. Martin Stormont would be involved in over half the games (17+3) proving his worth to the side, and Lyn Stockholm would be one of the keepers called upon in the absence of number one choice Jones. Finally the forward trio of Morrison (19 goals in 37 appearances), Diaz (16 in 17+4 )and Russell (8 in 25+3) would contribute over half (43) of the teams 83 goals. Everyone who played contributed, and it’s a season that lives long in the memory of those involved;

PM; “Its one of the top three moments of my career. A few of us suffered the indignity of finishing bottom of the league the season before and it was an amazing turn around with one of the best groups of players I’ve had the privilege of playing with. On a personal note it was a long recovery from breaking both my fibula and tibia in the January of the previous season, and it was a really long recovery back in the day. But with great support from staff and the club I got back to my best and was part of an amazing achievement.”

TD; “It was a fantastic five months after moving from Weymouth at Christmas, playing for my home town club and being able to celebrate a league title at the age of 19. On a personal level, being able to contribute to the cause by scoring some goals was very special for me and made me feel that I played my part in the club securing the title. In hindsight it was a really special moment for me and on a personal level it ranks alongside winning the Southern League golden boot five years later and representing England Schoolboys Under 18’s in 1985.”

Now we realise that this precedent of being rock bottom one season, being reprieved and avoiding relegation before winning the league the following term is a thing, I look forward to Leigh Robinson guiding us to the Southern Premier League title this coming season after the disaster that was the 2019-20 campaign. But whatever happens in the future, we’ll be lucky if we see season and have a side like the 1986-87 incarnation again. Up The Magpies, SV.

“I remember Mark Morris fighting Matt Groves for the last beer at the back of the bus.”

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!

Scott Morgan:

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.

Justin Keeler:

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.”

Danny O’Hagan:

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.”

Martin Shepherd:

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:

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.”

Neil Coates:

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.”

Tommy Killick:

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.

Tommy is fouled by Hans Segers to earn the Magpies a penalty.

“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.

Regan Coward:

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!”

Gary Borthwick:

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.

The 1986/87 league winning side.

“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.”

The Dorchester squad in the first season at the new ground in 1990.

Tony Chutter:

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.”

Martyn Sullivan:

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!”

Craig Bradshaw:

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