I think one of the moments I look back on most happily since I started this whole groundhopping lark, was way back at the beginning of October when I received a message from Romsey Town manager James Phillips inviting me to The Bypass Ground
for one of their upcoming fixtures. I have to say, I was genuinely flattered. Not simply because he’d invited me, but the fact he’d taken the time to see what it is I’m doing, and send me a message. So for that, thank you James.
Obviously, my luck dictated that I wouldn’t be able to make the original invite for their home tie against Team Solent on November 1st, and so my next available date was filled by Romsey Town, November 22nd for their Wessex League Division One game against New Milton Town. Having just completed my two and a half week absence due to my FA Level 1 coaching course, it was good to get back into the swing of things watching New Milton defeat Cowes Sports in the Russell Cotes Cup 2nd Round on Tuesday night. I only felt it fair I visited a new ground to get my Saturday football back on track, and so Romsey it was. New Milton just so happened to be today’s opponents, and so I spent my 40 minute train journey contemplating the team, and how they may set up. I’m no Sir Alex Ferguson, but I like to think I am.
I arrived at The Bypass Ground around 14:30 after an easy enough walk over from the train station, giving me plenty of time to note down the teamsheet and snap a few quick photos. I decided on plumping for a portion of chips before kick-off, and it was whilst waiting for my order that James came and said hello. We had a brief chat about the game and my travels, before he left me to go and make his notes on the action that was about to unfold, I believe because he’s currently serving a touchline ban, but please correct me if I’m wrong.
I collected my chips, and went and found shelter so I could scribble a few notes of my own during the game, taking in my surroundings as I did so. The Bypass Ground is found on the corner of the bypass (hence the name I guess), and isn’t as bad as what I’d heard from a few people. The main stand if you will runs down the far touchline, providing three rows of stone benches from which you can view the action. There’s also covered standing behind the far goal, as well as on the near touchline, on the clubhouse side of the dugouts. Everybody at the club is friendly enough, and it was a genuinely nice place to spend my Saturday afternoon.
The club were formed in 1886, and have apparently always been in and around step 6 of the English football pyramid. Town moved to the Bypass Ground in 1956 and were also one of the Wessex League founding members back in 1986. Unfortunately, the 2013/14 campaign wasn’t too kind to the club, and they were relegated from the Wessex Premier Division having finished at the very foot of the table. 2013/14 hasn’t been particularly pleasant either, and following today’s result, Romsey have taken just three points from a possible 27. Struggling to get results on the pitch, dropping down the leagues, it all bears resemblance to Bashley, but I’d rather not go there…
Today’s action was very entertaining, but in truth, New Milton probably just about edged the game and emerged as deserved victors. Romsey struggled with a single man playing up top in Ollie Bailey (who, by the way, I thought was quite impressive given that), and the visitors played some passing football at times that may have better suited a higher level. New Milton opened the scoring on 18 minutes through the prolific Kabba Jack, only to be pegged back soon after by Romsey skipper for the day Josh Ramsey. New Milton went in ahead at the break however, as a Lewis Oliver trip gave Jack the chance to double his tally for the afternoon from the spot, an opportunity he wasn’t going to throw away, firing low to the keeper’s left.
New Milton started brightest after the interval, and quickly extended their lead as Jack Dickson rose highest to power home a header which the assistant referee adjudged to have crossed the line before Ross Drew was able to fire home the rebound after a goal line clearance. Jack then claimed his hat-trick, and the match ball, after latching on to a loose back pass and rounding Passingham in the home goal to stroke into an empty net. The scoring wasn’t done there however, as Romsey grabbed a consolation goal before time, after Kadeem Price nodded home a Matt ‘Crouchy’ Hardy cross to score the 150th Stadium Trotter goal of the season, an achievement I’m sure he’s very proud of.
Full-time score; (Attendance: 66)
Romsey Town 2-4 New Milton Town
(Ramsey 24′, Price 76′) (Jack 18′ pen 36′ 58′, Dickson 53′)
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Bypass today, coming across a friendly, well run club that I’m told are going through a process of re-structuring at the moment, both on and off the pitch. There’s absolutely no reason that I can see as to why the club can’t start producing results on the pitch if they continue in the right manner. Good luck for the rest of the season gents, and I’m sure we’ll meet again soon.