The View from the Bar 

  Second in the league – how did that happen? Well, it was a fantastic midweek win at Stoneham that has elevated us even further, and had it not been for Amesbury’s last-gasp equaliser on Saturday we could actually have been top now. Mustn’t be greedy I suppose, (and there was a certain grim inevitability about Amesbury’s number 5 netting the equaliser after the stick he’d received for his celebrations in front of the stand for their opener). Oh well…

  Onto other matters, and one positive of the lockdowns over the last couple of years, for people like me at least, is that it seems to have given time for some folk to have a good clear out and put some choice bits and pieces up on ebay. I’ve probably picked up a dozen or more nice programmes from the 50s, 60s and 70s, although I’ve missed out on a good few too (including a supa-rare RAOC Hilsea v Cowes F.A. Cup tie programme that ended up selling for about £60, and a couple of Cowes v Pompey A issues that went for similar money).

  Although picking up older programmes is always a treat, a couple of favourites amongst those I did get were actually two later ones, from the 1970s – a Hants Senior Cup tie at Brockenhurst in 1974, and a home game against Wadebridge in the 70-71 F.A. Trophy (drew 1-1). I’ve had the replay programme for years but this was the first time I’d seen the home match come up. Just a few gaps now to complete a full set of every F.A. Trophy and F.A. Vase match Cowes have ever played, so if you should ever stumble across the following, there’s a pint or two in it for you…: 73-4 H v Bognor (FAT), 74-5 H v Brockenhurst (FAV), 77-8 A v Swaythling (FAV) and 78-9 A v Chichester (FAV).

  Speaking of the vases (in a round-about kind of way), despite all the aforementioned programmes, possibly my favourite new bit for the collection isn’t a programme, and doesn’t directly relate to football, even. For my birthday my girlfriend bought me a lovely 1930s Isle of Wight ceramic vase (I think she’s on a mission to slowly but surely populate my house with nice, grown-up stuff instead of programmes, sticker albums and suchlike…) But she didn’t realise the extra resonance of the vase, made as it was by one Samuel Saunders (he of Saunders-Roe fame, and club president at Westwood from 1925 until his death in 1933). In later life he became an enthusiastic potter, opening the Isle of Wight Handcraft pottery in Gunville. Hmm, I can sense another collection getting started…

  Back to the F.A. Vase, and today marks the start of the road to Wembley once again. Of course, we’ve never made it as far as that, but have had a good few memorable runs in the past 25 years, and of course several Wessex League teams have managed to make it to Wembley. My only visit so far to the new Wembley was to see AFC Totton in the 2007 final, which they lost to Truro, but Wimborne, Winchester City and Sholing have all lifted the trophy as Wessex clubs. Last year of course US Portsmouth went on a fantastic run to the semi-final, only losing out on penalties to Binfield at the final hurdle. I’m certain that Bournemouth will be just as keen to progress today, and so I think we can expect a far tougher encounter than our league meeting a couple of weeks back.

  But you never know, the journey to Wembley could start here, so get behind the lads and let’s see how far we can progress. And whatever the result, enjoy the game.