Groundhop 1881 – Paulton Rovers FC

Southern League, Division One South & West
Paulton Rovers FC v Sholing FC
Saturday, 13th October 2012, 3pm (Non League Day)
The Athletic Ground
Entrance £6, Programme £1
Distance 120 miles, Attendance 126
121013 SLD1SW Paulton Rovers v Sholing (29)wOn my journey thus far the date had meant everything but, a week before heading off to the West Country this focus had to change completely. Shortly before my departure an email arrived from Club Secretary, Andy Harris, informing me that despite all common knowledge – and the assertion of the omnipresent club badge – their date of formation was in fact 1891.
For years the oldest document was thought to read “1881” however – as with all historical research – one’s facts are only as good as the latest finding. This new revelation came courtesy of a recently found Bristol Mercury dated 30th April 1891. The details of this can wait for another day but, suffice it to say my season had hits its first wall. I’d been planning this hop for some time to coincide with the fantastic Non League Day, I was due to tick off a new ground, and importantly planned to meet fellow Hornet Bill Wilkinson at the game… Literally minutes and a couple of emails later, we decided to go all the same.
121013 SLD1SW Paulton Rovers v Sholing (14)wThe route there weaved through the stunning countryside of Salisbury Plain then up through historic Warminster, Frome and Radstock, all of which – despite their beauty – I glossed over. Like London’s commuter belt, Bath’s hinterland is littered with Non-League teams worth rejoicing so – in keeping with this celebratory day – I took pit stops at the convivial Radstock Town and Welton Rovers, before heading for the match.
Like other teams in the region, Paulton Rovers – whatever its year – is fine example of a community club. Its ground sits at the heart of a former coal mining community and houses both the football team and a netball team. Additionally the impressive clubhouse is home to a large bar, pool room and extensive function rooms; hosting school quizzes, family celebrations, fireworks parties, and tribute acts.

121013 SLD1SW Paulton Rovers v Sholing (35)w

Programme editor, Pete Lord, proudly showed me around the self-financing facilities, and introduced Andy Harris, before kindly inviting Bill and I to join them in the Directors Box for the first half. For the entire forty five the weather was as inconsistent as the play, and as the rain started pouring down again, I couldn’t have been more grateful to have been under cover.

121013 SLD1SW Paulton Rovers v Sholing (47)      121013 SLD1SW Paulton Rovers v Sholing (44)

With Paulton shooting downhill, players of both sides wasted countless chances, gave balls away and missed tackles. All square at the break the highlight had been a discussion on the small rainbow that momentarily appeared to our left. “There’s a pot of gold there” alerted a voice from behind us. “Do you think it might be a striker?” replied Pete wryly (thankfully with his announcer’s mic switched off).
For the second period – in a vain attempt to encourage the home side – Bill and I moved to the covered end behind the top goal. In hindsight this was the best tactical move of the day. Rovers raised their game, scored two goals which we were perfectly placed to see, and we witnessed a truly stunning natural event. The first goal came courtesy of a low drive from Ben Osman after fine wing play from Craig Loxton; the second a Stuart Pearson bullet header from Charlie Rich’s perfect corner. Despite Sholing making odd forays to get back into the game – unlike the conditions – Rovers were home and dry… not that we noticed.
A week before I’d had some fleeting reservations about whether this was the right match to attend but, by the end of the game I’d have sworn blind it was the perfect choice.
121013 SLD1SW Paulton Rovers v Sholing (87)
Given the impersonal nature of modern football “consumerism” it’s becoming uncommon to enjoy such warm hospitality at games. Even rarer is finding a club so dominant in their community, seeing two perfectly taken goals, and witnessing the most perfect and vibrant double-rainbow arching the far end of the pitch as the game reached its climax. As Bill commented “You wouldn’t see that at Old Trafford.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Initially appearing in this season’s Watford FC matchday programmes, consequently Groundhop 1881 reports will appear late on here. At the end of the journey, a book will be published telling the full story.
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This entry was posted in 2012-2013, Groundhop 1881, Non League Day, Southern League and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Groundhop 1881 – Paulton Rovers FC

  1. That is a stunning picture of the double rainbow! I have been enjoying reading about your latest hop, keep it up!

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