Printed in the Southern League Premier Division game v Stratford Town on Tuesday 16th August 2016. We drew 0-0 in front of 336
Two games of
football in two days; both promotion challenges, but the contrast
couldn't have been more stark.
Friday night I watched Brighton demolish Fulham in their swanky
stadium in front of over 28,500. Taking my sons ten year old mate set
me back £22.50.
On Saturday I was
entertained by Southwick who might have blown their chance of back to
back promotions after a 2-2 draw against Midhurst and Easebourne in
front of just 16 people.
a few miles and nine levels seperate Southwick and Brighton and while
the Albion are chasing the Premiership Promised Land, Southwick are
hoping they can reclaim a place in the top division of the Southern
Combination Premier Division (Sussex County in old money) after a
say Southwick have fallen on some hard times is an understatement. At
one point they also fell on hard drugs, with a former chairman sent
down for a long stretch. Changing their trading name, meant
under FA rules. So this proper old school club that once spent time
in the Isthmian Premier League were in Division 3 of the Sussex
at Old Barn Way and the ground unfortunately apes its name and is
need of a good spring clean. They were the first club in the Sussex
County to get floodlights back in 1968 and
used to have
a stand but this was burnt
A £100,000 grant from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund a few
years back got the club new changing rooms, a directors lounge and
a press box (which is now in a right sorry state).
by the Premier League the Football Stadia Trust dishes out capital
grants to clubs from the Football League down to the lower levels of
the National League System to improve safety and to enable them to
satisfy FA’s over the top ground grading requirements. Last season
that budget was just £6 million.
Southwick if you are so inclined, you can combine your ground hopping
with a bit of train-spotting, spoilt by a carbuncle of a bridge. The
architects of such monstrosities should have to live opposite so it
spoils their view every time they look out the window.
season they won promotion back to Division Two. A few of us set off
to the promotion party game only to find out they did it without
kicking a ball because the other team couldn't field a team! This
season a late charge has seen them get close to the a very different
Premier Division than the one Brighton are hoping to join.
Kick off was delayed
while a sub run across the pitch with a coffee, kids played on a bog
of a pitch before the game and there was no programme cos the printer
16 punters paying £4 to
get in wont
even cover the refs and linos expenses so they've got nearly as many
phone masts on their floodlights as fans and luckily they have a
clubhouse open every day where many ignored the game for a beer,
putting valuable coppers into the coffers.
for Midhurst, they had a complete new team from the week before so
despite being third from bottom put in a proper shift, making for an
entertaining game. I thought it was to avoid relegation but one of
their officials said that this was unlikely as teams in
Division 3 grounds
weren't up to scratch – well apart from AFC Varndeanians who
play at Withdean stadium.
gulf might be immense but the Southwicks of this world are the
bedrock of the
and I don’t want to bang on about Jamie Vardy but it was only six
seasons ago he was playing for Stocksbridge
Park Steels. And it wasn’t so long ago that Brighton nearly fell
through the Football League door.
around in so much
everyone in free next season,
grassroots football is suffering a thousand council cuts. Would it be
too much to ask to hand out a bit more
to the Football Stadia Trust so clubs can improve their grounds and
youngsters don't have to play on mud baths with no proper facilities.
now that there seems to be a TV rule that Brighton aren't allowed to play games
on a Saturday at 3pm its worth checking out some lower league
football with a pint in hand and see how the other half live.