Sunday 11th March 2018 ko 10.30
Blackmore Vale Sunday League
TEAM GRYPHON 1 (Wilton 57)
SOUTH CHERITON UNITED 3 (Farrant 52 74 Patterson 90) Taylor sent off 90 (dangerous play)
Twitter is a wonderful tool for the groundhopper. It’s immediacy makes it so useful; a website, forum or Facebook page is unlikely to be updated quickly but a club secretary with a mobile phone can put a postponement, pitch inspection or team selection into the public domain in seconds. And Twitter is why I happened to be at the Gryphon School in Sherborne.
You may remember Team Gryphon from my trip to Sturminster Rovers back in 2015. They are the club that with their reserves that makes up precisely a quarter of the Blackmore Vale League, and since that game, we’ve followed each other on Twitter. With me spending a weekend in Weymouth it would have been rude not to have visited them at home!
Their home is what back in the day I’d have described as a school field, but as is so often the case these days the local authority has turned the facility into a leisure centre to maximise use of what are very good facilities. The school itself is an amalgamation of 3 different schools, and since the mythical Gryphon, or Griffin is itself a mix of a lion and an eagle, the name is rather apposite!
Both Gryphon teams were playing on adjoining pitches, with the reserves playing Bradford Abbas in the rather awkward position of being higher in the league than their supposed first XI! The fact that I could see half of the league’s 8 clubs in one location wasn’t lost on me; I found myself thinking of Gibraltar where all of the league plays at one stadium!
It was cold, windy and the rain threatened, but it was a salve to the soul to get my boots muddy and once again strip away the artifice of the game and take it down to the very basics.
The trouble was as always was my ability to jinx any side I watch. In this case I’m not taking all of the blame, Gryphon are struggling, and it didn’t help that their hat trick hero from Sturminster Rovers Josh Farrant was playing for title-chasing South Cheriton. But Gryphon did exactly what their manager said they’d do and battled. So much so that I inwardly celebrated when they equalised slightly against the run of play.
But sadly for them, you can’t turn the tide, and Farrant’s two goals were to sink his former team, with Joe Paterson’s late goal serving to do little else but make the final score look a little too lop-sided given the balance of play. Before the final goal South Cheriton’s playmaker Greg Taylor saw red for a challenge that did little or no damage, but wasn’t in control of.
The final whistle went a few seconds after the reserves’ did and I strolled back to to car park at exactly the same time as a church meeting held in the school hall did. They were all dressed in their Sunday finest and gave me a look that shouted “Bless, you should have been with us.” I’d like to think my face betrayed nothing, but the truth was they should have stood with Team Gryphon and I. I followed a player, cycling home into the middle of Sherborne, then headed south, utterly content with my morning.