Saturday for me has, and always will be, football day. What with my hours at work now being extended every Saturday morning until 1, I won’t lie and say they aren’t incredibly awkward. I’d originally pencilled in Weymouth vs Guernsey, and had even arranged to meet up with two or three Weymouth fans I’ve gotten to know. As an alternative, what with some travels further afield on the near horizon, and the new work schedule, a visit to Grigg Lane – home of Brockenhurst FC – was arranged with my good friend, and fellow Bashley fan, Harry.
Don’t get me wrong though, I’m far from complaining. Grigg Lane just so happens to be one of my favourite grounds from the 16 I have visited since I began the whole groundhopping/ticking process way back in January. Nestled in the trees of the New Forest, it’s a great start to the day as you make the 10 minute walk from the train station through the ponies before locating the turnstiles. I say turnstiles, it’s more a friendly chap sat in a small hut collecting your admission money and pointing you in the right direction. Entering the ground, the first thing you’ll notice is the fantastic grandstand on the opposite touchline, housing the changing rooms. Not so high to leave you struggling for breath in the thinner air, but high enough to give you a great view of the action unfolding beneath you. I suppose the only downsides would be the pillars that partially obscure your view depending on where you’re sat, or that you can’t see the touchline beneath you whatsoever.
Located to the left of the stand as you face it, are the clubhouse and a small snack bar they call ‘The Badgers Sett’. For my first piece of Stadium Trotter advice, I have to mention the burgers sold here. To my disappointment, they weren’t available today, but having invested in one on my previous visit in March I can tell you that it was the greatest burger I have ever eaten. Ever. So, if you ever find yourself taking in some football at Brock, take your time to order a cheeseburger from the ‘Badger’s Sett’. The Stadium Trotter sent you for the good stuff, remember that.
In terms of action on the field, both sides play at the same level, level 5. Brockenhurst will be competing in the Sydenhams (Wessex) Premier this term, and their opponents, Littlehampton Town, will slog it out in the Sussex County League Division One.
Things started with Littlehampton taking the game to their hosts, and creating a couple of decent half chances. Former Brighton and Hove Albion man Ben Gray was causing a nuisance of himself up top for the visitors, and Michael Hendricks was looking to link up with him and get down the left hand side of the Brock defence. Unfortunately for them, young right-back Jamie Blackburn had Hendricks in his pocket, and he would go on to have an excellent game. In front of Blackburn was Will Tickle, and he would go on to cause havoc in the Littlehampton back line for himself, but that wasn’t until he’d fallen over his own feet trying to latch on to a pass about 10 minutes into proceedings, much to the amusement of his coaches.
The only real chance of the first half came following a lapse in concentration between a Brock centre-back and his goalkeeper, but Ben Gray was only able to poke just wide after getting on the end of the loose ball. More half-chances were to follow in the second half, but it wasn’t until mid-way through the final 45 that the deadline would be broken. Some lovely work in the centre of midfield saw Brockenhurst pushing forward, and catching the visitors on their toes slightly, before the ball was flicked wide right, and the excellent cross that followed picked out an unmarked Brad Magookin 10 yards out to lash into the bottom corner, leaving the ‘keeper rooted to the spot.
Just minutes later, Littlehampton found the equaliser after Michael Hendricks forced Jamie Blackburn into probably his only real mistake of the game, and turned towards goal wide left of the six-yard area about 8 yards out, before lifting the ball into the top right hand corner.
Full-time; Brockenhurst 1-1 Littlehampton Town (Attendance: 30 – headcount)
As aforementioned, Grigg Lane is certainly one of my favourites and today was only my second visit. I’ll certainly be going again at some point, but for the time being, congratulations to the friendly set of people over at Brockenhurst FC.