Thursday 21st February 2013 ko 19.45
Combined Counties League Premier Division
DORKING 3 (Harper 10 70 Jackson 23)
MOLESEY 2 (Tawonezui 51 Spencer 65)
There are so many similarities between Dorking’s Meadowbank and Wakefield’s Belle Vue, the traditional football grounds both set in the centre of town. From then on, the similarities cease, this is the land of composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, actor Laurence Olivier, and the builder of much of Belgravia, Thomas Cubitt.
There’s nothing remotely Cubitt-inspired about Dorking’s football ground. The influences here are the needs of the Isthmian League, one notch higher up the pecking order than the club’s present status, the club leaving the Isthmian League when that competition disbanded their Division Two at the end of the 2005/6 season. What’s left is a gorgeous 200 seat stand dating from the ground’s opening in 1956, and shallow terracing on most of the other sides. On the far side there’s the asbestos and concrete covered enclosure seen at so many Isthmian League grounds. It’s slowly being grasped by the ivy, but the club badge can still be seen, the famous Dorking chicken, popular on Victorian dining tables, and identifiable from the breed having five claws rather than the normal four.
I strolled into the clubhouse to read my programme and found the club stalwarts setting up a portable television to watch the closing stages of Tottenham Hotspur’s Europa League game. I ruefully spotted the frame where the projector-style set once stood. Still the welcome was effusive, and for once the game lived up to the surroundings, even of there was a caveat of sorts!
When copying down the line-ups outside the referee’s room I’d managed to hear the Dorking manager’s team talk; it does help when someone has punched a hole in the door! Two words were used a lot. One I can’t repeat here, but I’m sure you can guess; the other was naivety. There was no trace of that though straight after kick off, as Dorking raced into a two goal lead and it wasn’t for some appalling finishing it could have been double that at half time.
Molesey looked a far better team in the second half, but what happened next….well imagine you are the referee, what would you do? The Dorking defence didn’t clear the ball properly and so Arnold Tawonezui attempted to lob the keeper, Kieran Campbell. Campbell could only push the ball up and back, so the ball slowly dropped down into the……and that’s when the floodlights failed!The goal was given, although the Dorking management undoubtedly had a point when they wondered how the officials managed to see the ball cross the line!
It became obvious that this wasn’t a simple case of floodlight failure as the darkness extended to many of the surrounding streets. Nevertheless, the lights had to be allowed to cool down before re-lighting but during the 15 minute wait I discovered a wonderful piece of football ground design. Yes, the gents is designed so you needn’t miss the action, complete with paper towels to wipe away the condensation!
After the re-start Molesey carried on what they’d started, centre half Moses Spencer half heading, half bundling home from a corner, to give parity that looked barely plausible just before half time. Dorking’s naivety suddenly was lost, and they won the game with a twenty-yard screamer from Tommy Harper that seemed out-of-place with the charming errors it followed.
I travelled home, dropping off a fellow hopper on the way, and why on earth I’d waited so long to pay them a visit. It really is a gem.