The View from the Bar 

Art’noon. And here we go again, still on one road to Wembley and yet here we are setting out on the other one too. I wonder if we’ll still be heading in that direction (on either road) this time next week? We’ll find out over the next four days…

One of the joys of the national competitions is playing teams from different leagues, and today we welcome Devizes from the Western League Division 1, for what I believe will be their first ever visit to Westwood. We’ve played a fair few sides from the Western League over the years – with mixed results – so I’m sure we’re in for a tough afternoon today. One thing’s for sure, it’ll probably be exciting as, without the chance for scouting missions and suchlike, teams just have to play their natural game and go for it. We did think about sending Bill Murray up to hide in a tree and observe one of their training sessions, but that plan never got off the ground…

Despite the fact I seem to parade my ignorance on this page with startling regularity, I rarely do it intentionally. But I’m about to. When news came through of our draw against Devizes, I was straight on the AA route-planner, hoping to see they’d have a long trip up from the West Country to look forward to, before a (hopefully choppy) Solent crossing. Little did I know Devizes is just a bit north of Salisbury. I swear it sounds a bit Cornish, has someone been messing around with the maps again? It’s tough times to be trying to keep a local football club running, and they’ve had a tougher start to the season than most, so I do hope the travelling party enjoy their visit to the Island in these strange times (apart from the result, of course), and I wish them all the best for the rest of the season (and sorry about the geography fail…)

Disappointing outcome on Tuesday against Brockenhurst in the League Cup, but I thought it was an excellent game and that we played very well, especially considering the much-changed team. Having lost out to Brock by a single goal just a few weeks ago, in large part thanks to an incredible display by their keeper, it was somewhat galling to discover that their number one on Tuesday night was in fact a different fella, but who produced an equally – if not more impressive – display, being a commanding presence in his own box (unafraid to plough through anyone, including his own defence) and pulling off a succession of impressive saves. And he still found the time to have a laugh with the home supporters behind the goal when the ball was up the other end. Matey stood just down from me called it absolutely spot on with about fifteen minutes to go: “It’ll end 0-0, he’ll save a couple of our penalties, and then he’ll score the winner”. You couldn’t get more accurate than that. And fair play to Brock, I’ve always had a soft spot for them.

Unbelievably, today and Tuesday will be our fifth and sixth home games of the season (out of only seven played), and the support at Westwood thus far has been superb, averaging over 170 per game. These are indeed strange times, and there’s no way of knowing if we’ll even be competing come Christmas, let alone completing the season, but I think one thing we’ve learned to appreciate over the last few months is the value of what we have when it comes to things like our local club, and it’s great to see you all here supporting. Hopefully we’ll be hosting another big crowd today, and it’s looking like we’ll be testing the enforced 300 capacity limit on Tuesday when Weston Super Mare come to Westwood in our third F.A, Cup outing of the season. Long may it continue…

Speaking of which, it’s been a hectic week for me, getting all the tickets and whatnot ready for Tuesdays match, but quite exciting all the same – it’s not often there’s prospects of an all-ticket sell-out at Westwood. If you’re reading this and haven’t bought your ticket yet, get down to the clubhouse lickety-spit to get yours – I’ll be set up flogging them from 2.00 pm today, and again at half-time if there’s any left. If you do miss out today, please don’t fret – we have to set aside a number for visiting supporters, but we’ve been told that very few are expected to travel on Tuesday (quite understandable in the circumstances), so it’s highly likely that even if they do sell out today that there’ll be a few available on the gate on Tuesday. Keep an eye out for announcements re. this, because obviously we don’t want any of the regulars to miss out.

First things first though, and the matter in hand. It’s the F.A. Vase – it’s a road to Wembley that we’ve nearly managed to negotiate in the not-too-distant past, so let’s see where this season takes us.

So, win, lose, or draw (after 90 minutes), enjoy the game, and most of all, stay safe.