The View from the Bar 

  I wrote this column when we played Farnborough in the Hampshire Senior Cup in 1998. I can’t remember exactly what I wrote, but with them up in the Conference at the time, and us four levels below in the Wessex, if I wrote anything optimistic it was definitely more in hope than expectation…

  But we all know how that turned out, right? (spoiler alert, we beat them 2-1 with one of the most incredible displays I’ve seen from a Cowes team, indeed a team that was down to ten men for over half the game). So you never know…

  Even before we’d secured our passage to the second round of the Hampshire Senior Cup our potential opponents for the next round were known, and I don’t think it’s unfair to say that some of us were pretty excited. I for one will treasure the sight of ‘AFC Bournemouth’ on the sign outside the ground and the match posters. Big games, against big opposition, don’t come along every day. Still one of my favourite away-day photos is of the match board outside Aldershot’s Recreation Ground ahead of our HSC visit there in 1995, with ‘Aldershot vs Cowes Sports’ displayed as their next match (best not to dwell on the result from that one, though…)

  Cowes have many links with Bournemouth, and so it’s a pleasure to welcome them to Westwood tonight. Through the 1950’s and 1960’s we faced their forerunners, Boscombe Athletic, regularly at Westwood in the shape of their ‘A’ side who competed in the Hampshire League alongside us. We didn’t have a bad record against them either, notching up ten league wins against six league defeats. We also managed a 3-0 Senior Cup win against them in 1957, so on historical evidence, we’re just about favourites tonight. Ahem…

  The links don’t end there of course, with a couple of ex-Westwood favourites making their mark at what was then known as Dean Court. James Hayter was wearing a Cherries shirt when he scored the fastest ever hat-trick (as recognised by the Guinness Book of Records), in just 2m 21s after coming on as an 84th minute substitute against Wrexham in 2004. And of course there’s Lee Bradbury, who saw out his playing career at Bournemouth (10 goals in 126 games) before a stint managing there too.

  Whilst looking at links between our clubs, it would be remiss of me not to mention the tireless work done by club stalwart Ted Rickman through the seventies and eighties selling Bournemouth’s ‘Cherry Bees’ lottery tickets to raise funds for the Cowes club. They were a firm fixture – in a sweet jar on the counter of the tea bar – when I first started coming up here, and conjure very happy memories (despite the fact I never bloomin’ won…)

  If we’re looking for portents against sides from the BH postcode, the last round of the HSC against Christchurch might give us hope, although the defeat against Bournemouth Poppies in the F.A. Vase ten days back maybe less so. That was very dispiriting, especially given that had we played to half our ability on the day we would have doubtless come out with a positive result. But there we go, that’s football – hopefully tonight’s visitors might be thinking similarly on their way back home tonight.

  I’m not sure if I’ve set the scene for the game tonight or just indulged myself in a nostalgic trip, but tonight’s a massive game for everyone here at Westwood and I sincerely hope that everyone involved appreciates that and enjoys the experience. I’d like to say ‘may the best team win’, but either way, in truth, I hope it’s Cowes…


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