Printed in the Southern League Central Division match v Leighton Town. We lost 1-0 to a 90th minute goal in front of 244 pissed off supporters.
I couldn’t face another game against SuperMarlow and that stupid bear, so I decided to swap the Trophy for the Vase. Not that I could sell it to any of my mates to go and watch a team that is just eight promotions away from being in the Premiership. A couple of short bus rides and I found myself at Peacehaven and Telescombes tidy little ‘Sports Park’, facing Hamble Association in the first round of the FA Vase.
Now Peacehaven is a funny old place, surrounded on three sides by the South Downs and coming to an abrupt halt as the stunning cliff face crashes into the sea. The rows of squat bungalows just don’t really sit right. A few miles from Brighton it might as well be 300, although they’ve got the same MP as me. It’s only been a town since 1916 and was originally called New Anzac-on-Sea. This lasted less than a year before it was renamed Peacehaven. The town’s main claim to fame is an obelisk marking the Greenwich meridian time line. It’s also where Peter and the Test Tube Babies were born, and delighted the world with their abrasive brand of punk music. ‘Peacehaven Wild Kids’ isn’t a patch on Elvis Is Dead whose lyrical dexterity includes the lines ‘Elvis had a heart-attack, 'cos he got too bleedin' fat. He weighed nearly half a tonne, he looked more like a pregnant mum.’ Classic!
The football club were formed just a few years after the town and have been in the Sussex County League ever since. They finished runners up last season to big spending Whitehawk. This season big spending Crawley Down poached some of their best players with the promise of more money (some of them apparently on 150 a week). It’s depressing even at this level, that the football economics of the madhouse exist.
As for Peacehaven’s ground; well it’s not up to the standards for the ground regulation bureaucrats, despite enough covering for their crowds that barely reach three figures. They have laid the foundations for a seated stand, without which they will be relegated. Why they really need it is anyone’s guess. I counted about 90 at the game, many of whom seemed to be officials, friends and girlfriends of players.
The South Downs are being temporarily scared by a new sewage works being built behind the ground. I’m told it will disappear behind trees eventually and in return the club will get lots of artificial pitches for community use.
In the end Peacehaven progressed to the next round, and unlike the FA Trophy, which doesn’t seem to be very highly regarded for Conference clubs who just want to get back into the league, the FA Vase still retains its magic. Where village sides can get to play at Wembley and maybe push themselves up the footballing pyramid.
Peacehaven and Telescombe are just another part of the extensive football jigsaw across the country. The sheer amount of football clubs playing a decent level of football is just staggering. I can get to eight clubs who take part in the FA Cup on my all day Brighton bus pass (so instead I make the rational decision to spend over eight hours travelling to watch Slough play at Bedworth United!) The role of course that these little clubs play is immeasurable, where else do you get this mix of people mingling on first name terms? The social glue, the Big Society, the community hub. Whatever the jargon, while the Peacehavens of this world will probably never set the footballing world alight, they play an important role not just on the football pitch but in our communities as well.