Bognor Regis Town 1 Enfield 1 (14th Jan 2017)
I’ve had better organised football trips. I was planning to go to Brackley v Stockport, until a Saturday morning check of the state of their pitch revealed the fixtures site I’d got the info from had bodged up, and that game had been cancelled as they were away in the FA Trophy that day, funnily enough, at Stockport.
A quick check for alternatives suggested this game or one at Worthing, and naturally I opted for the one with fewer goals (Worthing and Sutton played out a 2-2 draw).
I then arrived at the ground at about 2.20, and was walking to the turnstiles when I realised I had about £3.50 on me, and had to turn around and get back in my car, and find a cashpoint somewhere in the town. By the time I’d done that, it was too late to have a pre-match beer, and all the programmes had sold out. I thought I’d have to do without the tea bar’s tempting bacon & egg roll too, as somehow “doing an egg” was a task balanced right on a knife edge of impossibility, but at least that went right, even if most of the yolk did leak out.
Bognor’s ground is one I’ve fancied going to for a while. There’s nothing amazing about it, but it does have a decent amount of cover, and old main stand for a bit of character, and a liberal application of dark green paint, which somehow gives smaller old grounds a feeling of cosiness and old world charm.
The far corner had, rare for this level, an electronic scoreboard. My guess is that it’s the one that used to be on the away end at Loftus Road. That was my first thought when I saw it, and having checked since, the layout of the time and score matches exactly. I’m not exactly an “80s scoreboard aficionado”, so I’ve no idea why I recognised it though. And I could be wrong.
Bognor also featured in the very first Reading game I saw on television. A good couple of years before I saw them play in person, a 2nd round FA Cup tie at Elm Park saw a rare visit from the TVS cameras, and a 6-2 win for Reading. Looking back, the cameras were there for Bognor, not Reading, as TVS’ sport coverage back then regarded anything more than five miles from the south coast as some kind of mystical hinterland where dragons roamed.
Sadly, even with Bognor Regis being top of the league, seeing eight goals here didn’t seem likely. Enfield struck early, when a corner was flicked on and nudged in a the far post, and that seem to throw promotion-chasing Bognor off their stride for the whole first half. Bognor did most of the attacking, but struggled to get any meaningful shots away. If anyone looked like adding a second, purple-clad Enfield looked more likely. I actually like purple as a colour, but Enfield are just one of a long line of football clubs who’ve made it look nasty. You probably have to go back to a Roberto Baggio era Fiorentina to find the last time it’s not looked “wrong” as a kit.
Enfield’s best chance to take a commanding lead came very early in the second half. A through ball put an Enfield striker clean through, but his attempt to go round the keeper went wrong, and he was forced wide, and the chance was gone. Within a few minutes Bognor would make them pay for that miss. Fulham loanee Elijah Adebayo marked his debut by nicking the ball past the Enfield keeper from near the penalty spot. He ran to celebrate with the fans in green behind the goal, possibly hoping it would make up for the hat-trick he scored against them three months ago while on loan at Slough.
That end was clearly the most popular part of the ground. Not only did it have a decent amount of terracing, but it was right in front of the club bar, and ground rules here are sensible enough to allow people to take beers out onto the terrace. I’ve never quite got how people can hold cold beers outdoors on a cold days though. They must have fingers like frozen sausages after about 10 minutes.
Despite Bognor having control of the 2nd half, Enfield were still a threat, and probably came closest to scoring, with an effort that hit the bar with the keeper beaten. Bognor looked most likely to get that winner though, but despite a few decent changes, it didn’t come. Time to go back into the bar, defrost, and discuss what might have been.