Goal of the season. David Beckham did it years ago – against Wimbledon, I think? Matt Smart definitely did it, in 2011 up at Fleetwood Town. And last Saturday, maddeningly, Slough Town’s Ben Harris did it at the Lane: a goal from inside his own half. Such a strike is either fluke or inspiration, but give Harris the benefit, for he struck that ball so sweetly, so powerfully, so perfectly that it deserved to nestle in Mark Smith’s net. It changed the course of the tie, and allowed the Rebels to dictate the match, and so you might even call it the £25,000 goal. But if you were there to witness it, however grudgingly, you won’t forget it for many years to come.
Live and local. Can you believe this? On your television screens this week – including satellite and cable – 86 live football matches will be broadcast. Eighty-six. Goodness me. Readers of a certain age will recall their footy fix being limited to grainy black-and-white highlights on a Saturday night, with Ken Wolstenholme peering through the murk.
Now, we have saturation, admittedly of high-quality coverage, but saturation nonetheless. But what are we losing? Call me nostalgic, but I still prefer my football live and local. We don’t have to be force-fed with over-hyped matches from the Belgian Second Division or the Bolivian Cup. We don’t need to drown in gambling ads, or swallow the opinions of pundits.
There is a better football experience out there, with a modest admission charge and a friendly welcome, where you can have a natter with the visiting supporters, choose your own vantage point, and change ends at half-time. Where you can be your own pundit. Go on, get your coat on….
Josh Briggs. And speaking of local events, the Saffrons was a bitter-sweet happy place last Sunday afternoon.
Three hundred or more people turned up to play, organise, and support the match in memory of Josh Briggs, who died so tragically on the Priory Lane pitch twelve years ago, at just 14. A Willingdon team, with BRIGGSY proudly emblazoned on their white shirts, took on of team of Borough affiliates.
The latter came out winners, I think, but nobody minded. With an enormous table of raffle prizes to draw, the match did briefly promise to achieve a record for longest ever half-time – but nobody minded that either, least of all the players, who seized the chance to rehydrate amply… I gather that the fund-raising, for the You Raise Me Up charity, raised a sum far into four figures. Brilliant.
Crabb. As this column was first to announce, last Friday, Borough legend Matt Crabb is back at the Lane. What I didn’t reveal – well, in fairness the Herald had already gone to press – was Crabby’s eventful Thursday night.
Off to Pagham with the Under-23s, a round trip of a mere 118 miles, Matt’s lads hit traffic chaos with a Southwick Tunnel closure and a big detour, arrived only ten minutes before kick-off and were 2-0 down in the first quarter-hour. A quick phone call from Matty to chairman Bonar, resigning in despair? Not a bit of it. Under their new mentor the Under-23s held their nerve, fought back and won 5-3 in extra time. All he needs now is to bring in Neil Jenkins as his defence coach...