Coach away days with Bashley were a staple part of my diet for a long time. I started travelling to watch away games back when we were scaling the lofty heights of the Southern League Premier, but sadly, those days are long gone. You may or may not have read into our financial troubles that almost wiped the club out entirely over the past few years, and that’s the reason we now find ourselves 15th in the Wessex League Premier (Step 5), without any of my beloved coach trips to write home about.
Thankfully I will have one coach away day this season to write home about, and it was our trip to high-flying Portland United to kick off the month of February. I’d been at home all week working, so a Saturday jolly for possibly our longest trip of the season was to be the perfect tonic. Naturally, living some 300 yards from the ground, I rocked up a couple of minutes late as the coach began to roll away from our home and towards our Jurassic destination. Not sure how far I’d have gone to chase the thing down before realising that I’d massively cocked up, but I imagine it would have been somewhere in the Bournemouth area.
Thankfully, we were treated to a beautiful day, albeit cold, and the journey over to Portland was a thoroughly pleasant one. Weymouth and Portland both look fantastic in the sun, and I’ll certainly be returning in the near future to sample some of the warmth during the summer months. Annoyingly, I didn’t take any photos from the coach to show off, but that just gives me further reason to return. Perhaps I’ll even add some to this blog further down the line. We’ll see what happens.
We arrived at Grove Corner just before 1pm, with a coach load of Bashley taking quick aim for the bar on the top floor of the quirky clubhouse. The club were very friendly, extended further with the news that we could send out for an order of fish & chips. I’d imagine you’ve probably been wondering why there’s a large portion of chips leading the imagery of this blog, but as it so happens, the club use the local chippy as their post-match food for the players, and so naturally we jumped on the bandwagon. The lady behind the bar was fantastic, and £75 worth of food was promptly on its way to feed the large Bashley contingent that had travelled for this fixture.
I’m not sure how many clubs can say that they offer this, Portland are certainly the first that I’ve encountered, but it was bloody brilliant. For just £2.30, I got a large portion of chips that I simply couldn’t finish, despite it coming wrapped as a ‘medium’. It sorted me out for lunch, and dinner in fact…
Portland have flown up the divisions in recent years, and now find themselves in the promotion pack at the summit of the Wessex League Premier Division. Grove Corner is a smart setup, lying next to the quarry at the top of what must be Mount Portland. The air starts to get a bit thinner if you watch the game from the banking behind the dugouts. As aforementioned, the club were fantastic hosts on a day that hosted an attendance of 222, I believe their highest gate of the season.
The clubhouse itself is a fantastic looking spectacle behind the near goal, and unless I’m mistaken you were able to sit on something of a balcony with a fantastic view of the pitch to enjoy the game from. It doubles up as the dressing rooms on the lower floor, with the bar above serving reasonably priced drinks and snacks. It certainly kept our healthy following entertained outside of match time!
Disappointingly, Bashley were never really in this game and the home side ultimately proved why they are nearer the top in the league standings with a comfortable 3-1 victory. Hugh Dathan’s shot-cum-cross gave us some sort of hope with five minutes left on the clock, but that was cancelled out some two minutes later to round off proceedings and leave all three points on the Isle of Portland. It was an entertaining game for the neutral however, and I wish the club all the best going forward, hopefully we’ll be seeing you again next season for another chippy lunch!