Littlehampton Town v Westfield
Lyons Road / Friendly / 23rd July 2015
Last year saw me head on a mini-south coast football tour, as I rolled into the Devon’s ‘Ocean City, Plymouth. Such good fun was had on the Devonshire coast watching Plymouth Parkway one day and then Swansea at Plymouth Argyle the next, that I declared that I’d attempt to start every following summer with a south coast football tour. So, with my summer holidays fast approaching, to the preseason fixture list I turned to suss out a south coast football itinerary.
I was seeking a 3 game weekend with Lewes FC’s brilliant looking Dripping Pan ground featuring high on my list, but sadly they were away on the weekend I had pencilled in. I soon realised that most of the games that week/weekend gravitated towards Sussex and I had a drafted plan in place for games Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
With a potential Sussex adventure on the cards, I made a Skype call to Sussex’s very own Craig Bratt. By the time the call had finished, he’d sculpted my weekend for me by convincing me to not go to Worthing and visit his hometown of Horsham on Friday and obviously he talked me into the idea that going to watch blog favourites Crawley Town play on a 3G pitch at Maidstone was a good idea. However, the bulk of our call centred around one club: Littlehampton Town FC – the Thursday destination where my Sussex adventure would begin. Somehow our call transformed into a songwriting session as a simple throw away comment about Littlehampton by myself transformed into a full blown, living, breathing football chant. Basically, this chant became the lifeblood of the whole trip and we were looking forward to unleashing our chant in Littlehampton. Just the one problem with that part…
We were not going to Littlehampton after all! Well, I was. I’d already booked a room in the small seaside town, when a few days before the Littlehampton Town v Westfield blockbuster we would be attending I noticed that Littlehampton had moved the game from their home ground to Worthing United’s ground. Worthing it was to be after all that. We would still use the chant though – I’m building towards that (I’ve built this chant up way too much though).
The Thursday was also a momentous day for Lost Boyos as Harrison brothers, Matt (me) and Marc (the other one), would be at the game together; this is only the second time such an event has happened in since the blog’s formation, with Marc’s globetrotting and my Manchester-dwelling hindering opportunities for groundhopping collaborations.
Marc was back in Southampton, wife Kathryn’s hometown, whilst they were both in mid-ex-pat limbo between their previous year living in San Sebastian and their future jobs out in Vietnam. It was here I met up with him before heading across to Littlehampton to drop our stuff off at the hotel, before moving onto Worthing.
I should mention here that Littlehampton is bloody wonderful, but I do not want to go into too much detail on that; the town had their chance to star in this blog and it’s missed its chance…for now – I’m sure a ‘Lost in…Littlehampton’ will happen in the future some time. So to the coastal town of Worthing we headed.
Worthing is a hot bed for writers it seems with Jane Austen living there for a period, Mary Shelley owning a castle there, Oscar Wilde spending a summer there and playwright Harold Pinter living there too. I got all this from Wikipedia, so I’m fairly certain that soon alongside such notable writers you will see ‘Other literary greats to visit the town are noted football groundhoppers Matt and Marc Harrison, who visited in July 2015’. I’m sure the name Harrison belongs alongside the canonical names of Austen, Pinter and Wilde.
Worthing actually has three different train stations – West Worthing, Worthing and, yes you guessed it, East Worthing. Marc had made friends with a lad in South Korea who was from Worthing and this ‘Worthing-ite'(?) had kindly provided with us a pub crawl map, which we were going to try stick to. Sounded good to me and so we alighted at West Worthing where our route began.
We were very much in a residental part of Worthing and it was hard to picture this place as a seaside town. I did learn that the band The Ordinary Boys are from Worthing, so I did have their song Seaside going through my head all afternoon as we walked around. I figured we’d see the seaside part later and so we plodded further inland until we came to the brilliantly named George and Dragon pub. Nice pub and I commented on how similar it is to my South Walian local, the Glan Taff Inn. Onwards to the next pub, where things got a bit more interesting.
Neville who we met at Chapel-en-le-Frith was undoubtedly the ultimate ‘character’ of last season’s travels. Well, this season its all about Irishman Noel from Worthing. We met Noel in The Vine, where he rambled incoherently about the Mexico v Panama game on the pub TV. Soon he was stumbling towards us and introducing himself to me and Marc with a handshake and bow combo. Fair to say he liked using the word ‘cunt’ and he explained to us that he’s barred from many of Worthing’s drinking establishments – it was easy to see why. I looked at Marc and said, “You’re with me now – I just seem to meet these sort of people.”
“Don’t go in the Thomas A. Becket full of…” explained Noel, before delivering the universal hand gesture for ‘wankers’ and saying that we wouldn’t be welcomed in there as neither of our names was ‘Tarquin’. We took his advice anyway and skipped that pub and headed next to the Cricketers – a pub dubbed the best in town by Noel and also the local of Marc’s Worthing pal. Noel wasn’t letting us leave the Vine though without a hearty hug and declaring to everyone at the bar that we were ‘good lads’.
It was a good 15 minute trek across town to the Cricketers, but it was worth it. Exactly my sort of pub! Traditional with a big, central bar with lots of ales and lagers. A running theme for the week was having lots of different lagers and ales, but this tasting of fancy beers was proving costly too, as me and Marc’s round of two Punk IPAs came to £9.60. Fortunately, it was immense, although it was hitting us both pretty hard.
The barmaid, Wendy, was very friendly to us and so Marc been asking did she know his friend, who used to drink in the pub. She said she couldn’t recall him, but then when we namedropped meeting Noel in The Vine she said that she very much knew who he was! He seemed to be Worthing’s village idiot it seemed, but we were big fans of his.
We still hadn’t seen the sea, so we decided that our next bar would be down the seafront somewhere. This was a fair distance away, but fortunately Lost Boyos personal chauffeur for the next few days was about to arrive. Craig arrived slightly agitated as his co-pilot Tom had taken him the long way into Worthing and so it was decided that I take the front seat for the short drive to the seafront. I was mainly taking the ‘shotgun’ seat for DJing purposes though and not for navigation reasons. Marc actually did the navigating, whilst I made sure we had Don Henley’s Boys of Summer slamming out. What a tune.
By now, it was a lovely evening and Worthing looked delightful in the sunny glow. We weren’t here for sunbathing and the excellent sounding Wandering Goose awaited. This pub is far more ‘hipster’, yet still superb. The highlight was definitely the amazing beer me and Marc consumed whilst Craig and Tom went and got food somewhere. Last year’s Lost Boyos beer of the year winner was Yorkshire Red and the early frontrunner for this prestigious crown this season is BBNo brewery’s 11 05 IPA we enjoyed here – a beautfiul citrus lager. We had football to get to now, otherwise I’d have savoured it a little bit more.
We had a good idea where the ground was and once we were out of the main centre of Worthing we found the ground remarkably easy, once again with Marc navigating using his phone and me being more preoccupied with Craig’s random playlist: I was working with everything from modern Eurovision songs to the Courteeners.
You’ll find Worthing United FC tucked away in the far corner of an industrial estate behind Sainsbury’s. When described like that, you wouldn’t expect much from the ground, but Worthing United is wonderfully scenic. It really is superb. With the ground being located on the edge of town and halfway up a hill, green fields spread upwards away from 3 sides of the ground. We were all suitably impressed and I was excited to go exploring the place. However, as we got out of the car, I was easily distracted when Tom grabbed a football from Craig’s boot. The small, decrepid football court adjacent to the car park was just too inviting and so soon an impromptu kickabout between the four of us was underway. A Little Less Conversation was going through my head as we played about a la that 2002 amazing Nike football tournament in the cage advert. We were all slightly less graceful though.We were all now sutiably warmed up anyway if either of tonight’s teams required extra numbers.
The two ladies working behind the club bar were very friendly, although seemed a little baffled to what the hell we were doing there. We left the small bar area with pints of Spitfire and it was now time to go and explore the ground proper.
What a beauty. Similar to the Maracana, pitchside is accessed via steps for both players and spectators leading up to it. I bet you didn’t expect a Maracana comparison, but that’s where the comparisons very much ends. Unlike the famous 78,000 seater stadium in Rio, Worthing United’s doesn’t even have 78 with the only stand being a small sheltered shed saddling the halfway line. The benefit of only having such a small stand means that the rest of the ground is very open and this is what gives the place its charm: the rural backdrop to it.
As we surveyed our surroundings, the two teams hosted by Worthing United came clambering up the steps – Littlehampton in gold and Westfield in blue.
We weren’t expecting too much from the onfield action, but we were provided with a thoroughly entertaining game. Despite being two leagues below Littlehampton, Westfield were having a good go at the ‘home team’. Littlehampton had the extra quality though and that was definitely shown with the opening goal.
It took 15 minutes for the Marigolds to take the lead and what a goal too. A great ball to the excellent number 11 saw him bursting down the left wing before performing an audacious chip from wide, which left the goalie stranded. Everyone on the touchline stood and applauded.
By now, we had decided to go for more of a wander of the ground and on doing this I began to fall more in love with the ground; the bankings around the 3 sides of the ground offer brilliant views of the whole area and even down to town and the seafront. We were so busy ogling around us that we almost missed the 2nd goal (well, Tom and Marc did it turned out, as later an argument broke out to what the final score was – me and Craig won).
A looping freekick had put Littlehampton 2-0 up just before half-time. There was nobody singing in celebration so me and Craig looked at each other and knew this was the time to unleash ‘The Littlehampton Town anthem’. So without further ado, here it is in all its lyrical glory 2 months after it’s birth (with the words underneath the video if you do want to sing along with me and Craig’s beautiful voices).
They’re not Southampton / Not Wolverhampton / They’re not Northampton / No none of them (no none of them!) / They’re the best Hampton and you can count on them / So let’s sing for Littlehampton!
(Then it’s obligatory to go mental and smash shit up and stuff).
Littlehampton Town FC -our song is our gift to you.
Half-time: Littlehampton Town 2 – 0 Westfield
We continued traipsing the bankings of the ground until the half-time whistle went. We then ended up on the pitch for a kickabout, after one of the players warming up passed us a ball. I put my heart and soul into that brief kickabout on the pitch, but I’m still yet to be offered a trial (one of these non-league clubs will spot my talent one day!)
We were rudely kicked off the pitch as apparently these other 22 players needed to play and I remembered then that I was there to watch and not play football. Marc was sent to the bar to acquire us some more Spitfire.
For the majority of the second half, we stood at the top of the steps down to the bar (just a coincidence!) as the game in front of us continued to entertain. The excellent no.11, who scored the first goal, made it 3-0 with a lovely floated freekick right on the edge of the box.
The final goal of the game, the one which started the final score argument amongst us, came late on with Littlehampton finishing after the ball hit the post.
Full-time: Littlehampton Town 4 – 0 Westfield.
As the sun set on the Sussex coast, we posed for our final double thumbs up photos and headed back down the steps to Craig’s Fiat Panda – or Paddy as he has christened it (after former Yeovil and Scunthorpe winger Paddy Madden weirdly). We had loved Worthing United, but we did actually want to leave at some point, so it was a bit worrying when we found the gate out of the ground padlocked. Whilst me and Tom tried to work out how to get the gate open in a way which didn’t involve Craig smashing Paddy through it, a young lad did come running out and unlock the gate to free us from our Worthing United prison.
I was initially gutted that Littlehampton had to move their game out of their actual home and 8 miles east down the coast to Worthing, but we were treated to an outstanding, scenic ground in Worthing United’s Lyons Road home. Plus, I’ve now got an excuse to go back to Littlehampton again – a town I really do love. It was back here me and Marc headed at the end of the night to finish off a good day with a Wetherspoons curry club.
Highlights: visiting Littlehampton, good pubs in Worthing – especially the Cricketers, 1108 Ale, lovely ground, good game, impromptu kickabouts, me and Craig finally unleashing of the Littlehampton Town song.
Low Points: game moving from Littlehampton (also a positive really).
See all my photos from our day out in Worthing (and some of our early afternoon wanderings of Littlehampton) here.