Wednesday 29 November 2023

Shaftesbury - Cockrams

Shaftesbury FC
Coppice Street

01747 853990

Ground Number: 1246
Tuesday 28th November 2023
Shaftesbury 8-0 Lymington Town
Wessex Premier


The club was established in 1888 and by 1906 were winners of the Dorset Junior League. The club became members of the Dorset Senior League in 1932 and a season later were winners of the competition. They then joined the Dorset Premier League, or as it was known then, the Dorset Football Combination. Shaftesbury won the title in 1989 and 1997. In 2004, they were founder members of the Wessex Lasgue's second tier. Despite a 9th-place finish in 2007, they generally struggled and in 2011 were relegated back to the Dorset League. Another poor season followed with the club finishing second bottom. Between 2012 & 2017, the club changed its name to Shaftesbury Town. The final two seasons were successful with them being Dorset League champions in 2017 before finishing 3rd behind Hamble and Baffins Milton Rovers in the Wessex Division 1 the following year. This earned them promotion to the Premier Division where they remain to this day. Their best finish was in 2022 when they finished 3rd.

Shaftesbury's best FA Cup run came in 2021. That year they beat Amesbury, AFC Stoneham and Highworth Town before they narrowly lost 1-0 to Bath City in the 2nd Qualifying Round. In the FA Vase, Shaftesbury enjoyed their best FA Vase run during the 2022/23 season. Folland Sports, Badshot Lea, Olsland Abbotonians and Brimscombe & Thrupp were beaten before a loss to Brixham in the 3rd Round. Strangely, all games were decided by way of a penalty shootout and with them going out to Bashley the previous year via the same method, they had six successive FA Vase games decided on spot kicks. Local cup wins include the Dorset Football Combination League Challenge Cup twice, the Dorset Junior League Cup three times and the Dorset Junior Cup in 2008.


The most famous player to turn out for Shaftesbury is Steve Thompson. The midfielder had a stellar career, most notably 162 appearances for Wycombe Wanderers where he won the Conference and FA Trophy double in 1993 and the Division 3 playoff final in 1994. He made the last appearances of his playing career at Shaftesbury in 2009 at the venerable old age of 46. The town of Shaftesbury is located in Dorset, around 20 miles from Salisbury. It has a population of just over 9,000. Shaftesbury is the site of the former Shaftesbury Abbey, which was founded in 888 by King Alfred and became one of the richest religious establishments in the country, before being destroyed in the dissolution in 1539. Adjacent to the abbey site is Gold Hill, a steep cobbled street used in the 1970s as the setting for Ridley Scott's television advertisement for Hovis Bread.  


Once again, fellow hopper Chris was available for this Tuesday. Although I'd expressed a wish to cut down on the midweek travel, this was one of a couple, along with Whitchurch Alport, that I had left to do in the Midland Premier. So rather than going south with Colin, or taking him and Anwar to this, I opted to save time by doing this with Chris. It meant I would have to chip in more with petrol but it would save me up to half an hour on the way home which was important when my alarm was set for 05:05. I agreed to the trip with Chris on the Wednesday before and with the weather looking good, I researched the club history on Friday night though there wasn't a huge amount to write about. That turned out to be a waste of time as things would transpire but I hope to be able to use it in the near future.

I also arranged to go to York for their FA Cup game on Friday. Saturday brought my 935th visit to Adams Park for Wycombe Wanderers v Reading. I had been very reluctant to go after the horrendous game against Stevenage. However, the temperatures were frozen so it would be a lottery as to whether games were on. Plus Reading had not won on the road for 378 days or 20 league games, so I was hopeful of a result. How wrong I was. It started well enough with a couple of pints at the Rose & Crown and a catch-up with my old workmate Matt. We recalled all the piss-taking antics we got up to with a Welshman who stitched us up bearing the brunt of it. From then on, it was a nice dinner at Grillbox and this was alright. But from the moment the game kicked off, we were second best. Though we had a brief good spell at the start of the second half, it was not a good day and as usual we rolled over to gift a team who were on a dreadful run and end to their misery.

It was with a feeling of regret for going to Wycombe that I awoke on Sunday morning, not the greatest feeling to get me through the most difficult day of the week. My mood was further dampened when I checked the weather and saw it was going to be just a single degree. That was too risky for me in terms of frozen pitch and the likes of Fleetands would only be a degree higher. I decided I couldn't be bothered with the lottery of pitch inspections and so decided on Shaftesbury. Happily, Colin was on board but Anwar was in the wrong direction. The day continued with me being late for work due to me leaving late and two sets of roadworks. It was then very busy and tiring. Added to that, the day also brought the sad news that Terry Venables had died. He for me, was the best manager England has had in my lifetime and gave me my most enjoyable moments during Euro 96. He also came across as a really nice guy and no doubt deserved all the nice tributes that he got.

Monday was a lot calmer at work, though looking ahead, the weather was showing no signs of improving. It was my usual day off on the day of the game and I walked to Wycombe and back, over eleven miles in all. All the junk that I eat would offset though. It was fairly mild feeling, in fact, it was 5 degrees. Uttoxeter's forecast had risen by a degree and it was actually going to be warmer than Shaftesbury. I was glad of a few hours at home before it came to time to leave at 4. It was a reasonable 15-minute journey to Colin and we were on our way. The journey down was OK, delay on the M25 because it's the M25 and decent the rest of the way. We arrived at KFC in Shaftesbury at 6.40, I had chosen this so we could sit in the warm. I had an excellent gravy box meal for £4 thanks to the app, KFC had really upped their game since my last visit. We got to the ground at 7.10 and were given a lovely welcome. They apologised for the basic programme but for a quid, it was fine. We walked around and got some pictures of the ground before I settled down and started this blog. It was not as cold as originally forecast, but I was happy with my choice.
The two teams' fortunes could not be more contrasting with Shaftesbury top and Lymington bottom. The hosts had won four in a row, the latest victory coming when they won 3-2 at Petersfield Town on Saturday. The visitors had gained a respectable 2-2 draw at Portland United on the opening day but had since lost fifteen games in a row. The last loss on Saturday was a 1-0 loss against Christchurch. This season the teams faced each other in the Wessex League Cup at Lymington with Shaftesbury winning 3-1 with goals from Callum Sweeney, Brett Pitman and Luke Holmes. It was an own goal for Lymington's goal.  Historically though Lymington Town have a good record against Shaftesbury winning six times losing twice and drawing once.
Both teams lined up in really smart kits, especially Lymington in navy and yellow hoops. Shaftesbury, as expected, were well on top, hitting the post in the opening ten minutes. After 16 minutes, the hosts did take the lead, scrappy defending from a corner at the back post which turned out to be an own goal. Lymington had a brief spell but it was 2-0 on 34 minutes. More ropey defending, a through ball split the defence and Cam Beard raced through and finished with ease. On 39 minutes, it was 3-0, an attack down the right and a finish from close range with the visitors arguing about who was marking who. It was 4-0 a minute later, the keeper palming out a shot only for it to be followed up from the edge of the six-yard box. In added time, it was 5-0, a bullet header from a left-sided corner. It would have been more but for a couple of smart stops from the visiting keeper. Just before the hour, it was 6-0, a low shot from just inside the area. It was 7-0 on 75 minutes, the goal was not given originally but the linesman signalled a goal for Steve Walker. A lob by Steve Devlin from 20 yards made it 8-0 a minute later. The goals were eventually credited to Beard (3), Walker (2), Devlin, Kellaway and Pitman. Brett Pitman on the latest chapter of his footballing career which had seen him have a highly successful career at higher levels.
The Uttoxeter match actually went ahead but locally to us, Gillingham Town was called off due to a waterlogged pitch. Up at Barnsley, Wycombe had been looking good for a draw until a last-minute error or foul on our keeper whatever way you look at it gifted Barnsley a 1-0 win. I tended to think the former but elsewhere Uttoxeter and Studley drew 1-1 in my original choice of game. We left around 9.45, waiting for the Wycombe match report to come on the local radio. After, it was Greatest Hits Radio Top Ten at Ten with 1972 having a surprisingly decent number of tunes. It had been a very slow start to our journey, the A303 closure forcing us onto crappy slow roads. Eventually, we got to the M3 and M25, arriving back at Colin's at midnight. He had talked constantly from the moment we left to the moment we got home so the peace and quiet was nice. I was back home fifteen minutes later but it took me ages to get to sleep. I needed a nap the following afternoon to make up for it.

COCKRAMS is a smart and modern venue right in the town centre. The main covered area is a long stand along the side, seated and holding over 200. The other side offers covered standing for around 75. The rest of the ground is open and well kept. Both the tea bar and the bar had a decent range and the bar had sports TV. The car park was quite small, but further street parking is available.

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