The View from the Bar 

  Brockenhurst looked a pretty tidy outfit on Tuesday, eh? I know we didn’t help ourselves much, conceding two goals within a minute so early on, but I thought we acquitted ourselves well against a very good side after that and were a bit unlucky not to have pulled at least one back by the interval. All in all though Brock were very impressive, probably the best outfit we’ve seen up here this season, apart from Horndean maybe, although we do still have to host Hamworthy, the other side well in the title hunt. Gulp… If one good thing comes out of Tuesday’s game, hopefully The Badgers will have a spring in their step for their F.A. Vase fifth round trip to Littlehampton today – it would be great to see another Wessex side get to Wembley, and based on what we saw on the pitch on Tuesday (and the buzz around the club off it), I wouldn’t bet against them.

  Speaking of which, today’s visitors U.S. Portsmouth came within a whisker of reaching the Vase final last year, with an incredible run that took them to the semi-finals where they were only denied by a late Binfield leveller, then an agonising defeat on penalties. I was one of thousands who watched the game live on the internet, which was great in itself, but heart-breaking for U.S. Portsmouth that they had to play the biggest game in their history behind closed doors due to Covid restrictions.

  Now, I have to say that where I don’t get to many away games these days, Glynn Skinner (with a bit of help from Dave Draper) does a sterling job of grabbing me programmes from our travels so I can keep the collection complete and up to date. Most weeks it’s more a case of wanting them as a completist, rather than because there’s much to enjoy in them, but one I always look forward to is Portland’s effort and the issue from the game last week was more than up to the usual standard: 68 pages (only 30 of which are adverts), glossy throughout, and with a great variety of bits to read – it must take an absolute age to put together and is well deserving of the Wessex League Programme of the Year award it has picked up consistently since 2016. Speaking of the adverts, one thing I miss about top-level football these days is the idiosyncratic and parochial advertising boards around the grounds (now that all we get is the homogenised corporate ones, but non-league can still offer rich pickings for the likes of me. Perusing Portland’s programme, for instance, who could resist a trip to Codfathers for fish and chips, or indeed doubt the services of the Swept Away Chimney Sweep?

  Big thanks to Toby Brown who, as well as producing the excellent match videos for us all to enjoy, has also recently been filling in on the mic in my absence too (and likely will be again today). I find it hard enough getting things right when it’s the only thing I have to do, so top marks for keeping the camera pointing the right way as well as making the announcements. On this topic, though, we’re still looking for a permanent replacement for the much-missed Mick the Mic, so if you fancy yourself as a bit of a tannoy legend, please do speak up (as it were). And you don’t have to be called Toby to do it, you know… Also, with our swish new wireless mic set you can actually make the announcements from wherever you like in the ground (I believe the reception even extends as far as the bar, although it might be dangerous if I tried filling the role from there – not sure it would do much for the accuracy of the announcements…

  Anyone fancying an away day, next week the First Team visit Bashley in what’s generally one of the more do-able away trips, although be warned, the usual train service from Southampton down to New Milton is scheduled to be replaced by a bus service that day (as far as Brockenhurst), so make sure you check arrangements before setting out…

  Public service announcements done with, I hope you all remembered the early kick-off today and I hope you all enjoy the game (since I’m absent today it’s odds-on to be a belter…

           Toby

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