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LEFT FIELD - on Councils, Cup finals and Cast-Iron Beauty...

5 months ago By Kevin Anderson

Kevin takes his regular ramble around life at the Lane

“Oh - and the other visitors? I'd absolutely love to tell you, but I'm afraid it's a Mystery....”

DART CHARGE
They are the league's leading scorers, with five successive victories, and a momentum that has taken them above Havant, on the slimmest of goal difference. That's quite a charge by the Darts, and we warmly welcome our North Kent friends. With the Sports finally clear enough of the drop zone to allow a bit of comfort, the season might have just petered out, but – with Hemel and Chelmsford to follow – we still have a part to play in the National South finale, and it's a privilege to be entertaining the league leaders this weekend.

They are good people and a proper non-League club, surviving an almost fictitious spell of over a decade with no home ground, before the local council rescued them with the gift of a splendid new ground. Jealous? Moi? Not really – I just wish that we had an equally supportive local authority here on the coast. Here's a project: you allow a local football club to take over an unused stretch of marshland, you watch them turn it – with an unshakeable vision and unbelievable toil and commitment – into a splendid ground and a terrific community facility. And then you charge them a five-figure rent for the privilege. Like everything in Left Field, these are only my personal opinions, but I find that bizarre.

Anyway, back to the present. I've been checking the forecasts all week, in fear of a repeat of last January's surreal encounter, when Dartford took the points away from a fogbound Pirory Lane with a 3-2 victory. At least, I think that was the final score. I only know my match report descended into pulp fiction....

"At pitch level there was still only wispy mist - but above the North Stand a huge bank of fog was hovering almost eerily, like some ghastly science-fiction movie where the alien spaceship is about to descend. And descend it did, rolling menacing and remorseless over the roof of the stand and down to pitch level - a witches' brew of dense silent grey."
No, that isn't a winning submission for the Private Eye Pseud's Corner column, but it ought to be. Sorry. I had a sports editor when I was about 17 who wearily took me aside and said – "Listen lad. Just write reports like the Daily Telegraph does - just write the facts." I knew I should have listened....

But do please make all our visitors welcome. I realise that Borough's hospitality this season has often extended to the present of three points, gift-wrapped and ready to take away. But win, lose or draw, it's been really good recently to have welcomed old friends and made new ones. Listen up for Trevor on the tannoy around the hour mark, and – our new tradition – get the Lane ringing with applause for our guests.

Incidentally, there are two other groups of visitors at Priory Lane for the Dartford match. I hope the Stag Party, who are up in the executive boxes, will enjoy the action: presumably it's early enough in the day for them still to remember which team is which.... I'm a bit of a novice with stag parties but I admit to being signed up for my son-in-law's "do" in Barcelona next month. (Last time I was in Barca, I actually merged two passions and managed the Camp Nou and the Liceu Opera in a single day. Catalan heaven.) Anyway they've promised me I won't have to wear a tutu. Too much information....

Oh - and the other visitors? I'd absolutely love to tell you, but I'm afraid it's a Mystery. Listen up for Andy and Trevor to announce a little more....

THE TURNSTILE TRIO
And while we're on the subject of niceness....be honest. Did you say a proper hello on your way in, to whoever pressed the pedal to let you through the turnstile? They aren't robots, after all - they are Priory Lane's very own Turnstile Trio of Ray, Steve and Angus. Ray is very much the senior man, who did once tell me he'd been on the gate for 38 years, until we realised that we haven't actually had turnstiles for that long. Even so, it's pretty much three decades that our Raymond has chalked up. Alongside him, Steve has just the one decade and merely the beginner's certificate. Before taking refuge at the Lane, Steve was actually club secretary and Lord High Everything Else at Lewes FC, but we don't hold that against him. And then there is Angus. Enigmatic Angus. When not holding office as Chair of Governors at West Rise, the primary school where the Head rides a quad bike and the kids all ride water buffalo, Angus controls the officials/scouts/media/blaggers turnstile. And I do mean controls. Depending on his mood, Angus may or may not let you in. He has been known to turn away the club chairman because he didn't have the right pass. Humour him... And be aware, whichever gate you come through – the Turnstile Trio will gladly take your £13, £8 or £2 respectively, to let you in. But if it's an awful game, they'll charge you double to get out....

Incidentally, the current cast-iron beauties were scrounged – I mean enterprisingly procured – from Millwall's old ground when the New Den opened. They have served us well, but one of the few quite minor ground improvements that will be needed, if/when we are promoted to the National League will be new digital turnstiles. They will no doubt be shiny, highly automated, and similar to those passport gates at Gatwick, which never let me through. And Ray will retire in disgust.....

TWO CUP FINALS....
Istanbul. May 2005. The team in red starts disastrously and is 0-3 down at half-time. The trophy might as well be engraved now. But Rafa knows differently: he still believes in the players in red and his faith is rewarded. 0-3 breathtakingly becomes 3-3. And finally, in a dramatic penalty shoot-out, the Boys in Red claim a triumphant victory on a delirious night.

Peacehaven. April 2018. The team in red starts disastrously and is 0-3 down at half-time. The trophy might as well be engraved now. But Graham Rafa Overton knows differently: he still believes in the players in red, and his faith is rewarded. 0-3 breathtakingly becomes 3-3. And finally, in a dramatic penalty shoot-out, the Boys in Red claim a triumphant victory on a delirious night.

Two finals. One result. Well done the Borough Under-15s and Sussex Champions....

And while we are talking of youth, the main pitch will have played host to an Academy Open Day, with Jamie and his senior coaching staff running sessions through Saturday lunchtime on the 3G, and answering questions from students and parents. We hope most of them will have stayed for the Dartford match. Guys, if you are a part of our 400-strong youth ranks, and if you join our Academy, in partnership with Sussex Downs College, then one day you may not be watching National South football - but actually playing it....

RIP MARK
In Mark Turner, we have lost a stalwart supporter and a true friend. Mark was Mary Ann's rock, a sincere and genial presence at Borough games both home and away, and proof that quiet men have the most valuable things to say. Mark will be especially remembered, with Mary Ann, for the friendship and support that they extended to Miguel Baptista throughout his time at the Lane, far from home. Mark's funeral is at 3.15 on Friday 27th, at Eastbourne Crematorium, with a wake afterwards at Langney Sports Club. Donations towards a defibrillator for EBFC Youth.

ROAMIN' RYAN
Lovely to see Ryan Worrall here at the Easter Monday game. Since leaving the Lane in the Autumn, Ryan has appeared for Tonbridge Angels and Horsham, but at 22 he is setting out to see a bit more of the world – and good for him. Seizing an offer to play and coach in New Zealand, he is flying out any day now to sign for North Wellington FC for the coming season Down Under. The young Ryan was Jay Lovett's first ever Academy captain, and he wrote a tiny bit of history by scoring with his first ever first team touch – coming on as a substitute and hammering in an FA Cup penalty kick. A young man with standards and with much ability, he will always be a welcome face at the Lane. Have a great time, Ryan, and travel safely!

Enjoy the game, everyone!

Updated 17:11 - 13 Apr 2018 by Kevin Anderson

Where next?

Mark's Funeral: arrangements announced A "Borough-themed" funeral for a loyal Sports supporter....
LEFT FIELD - on Cup campaigns, Tennis tirades and Martin's memorable matches Kevin takes his usual wander around Priory Lane (as well as the Oval, Flushing Meadow, and rural Suffolk....)

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Sat 22 Sep
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Cup 15:00
Sat 29 Sep
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League 15:00
Sat 13 Oct
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League 15:00

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