The first match of the season. Driving over to the ground and listening to all the chat: momentum from last season, summer signings, new names, new manager, new attitude. And knowing that for 99% of the clubs being discussed the season will fall well-short of the dream. And then, having explained that to your six-year-old co-pilot, getting to the ground and finding that the council have taken away the club car park and there’s nowhere to park as the streets are filled. Welcome to the non league first match of the season.
But, we survived, and saw everything apart from the first six minutes. “Town are one down”, a man in a tie said as he walked past. Eastbourne United AFC now share a division with Eastbourne Town. “I’m a Town man,” said a different chap in the half time queue for a coffee. By full-time Town had lost 3-0 but United had, somehow, seen off Horsham YMCA with a clumsy goal scored not long after half time. Nobody asked how Eastbourne Borough were doing. You have to keep your rivalries close.
My photo shows a Horsham YMCA player wondering quite how he missed a sitter. The aforementioned six-year-old co-pilot had some thoughts on the matter which, thankfully, the player didn’t hear.
In the end, as we stalked off to find our car parked in the distance, we departed happily enough. On the radio they were explaining that Brighton had lost their opening match of the season. “But weren’t Brighton supposed to win?” came the question. Well, yes, they were. Such is the dashing of dreams as the season begins.
(Some more photos, some are even in focus, here.)