Fellow Yellows – Littlehampton Town FC

Sussex County League, Division 1
Littlehampton Town FC v Hailsham Town FC
Saturday, 5th October 2013, 3pm
The Sportsfield
Entrance £6, Programme £1
Distance 79 miles, Attendance 65
Located a short walk from station, The Sportsfield was donated to the town by The Duke of Norfolk in 1897 “as a gift in commemoration of Her Majesty’s reign, to be used as a public recreation and pleasure ground” the West Sussex Gazette announced.

131005 SCLD1 Littlehampton Town v Hailsham Town (47)w

Amicably now sharing the land with local clubs of cricket, croquet, lawn tennis and stoolball (no, me either), Littlehampton Town FC are still the tenants of The Duke, whose family’s principle residence is the nearby Arundel Castle.
LTFCjpegnewlogoUpon my return – decades after my parents had taken us “to the beach” – it was nice to find the locals had spruced up the town with bunting to commemorate the day. Sharing this occasion were some lovely chromed up scooters and, Ian Flemming’s “30 Commando Unit IX Group Royal Marines” who have been granted freedom of the town. Giving it the once over, I turned my attention back to the sea.
Strolling out via the River Arun estuary, the sound of the waves relaxed my stride in the late summer sun. Stopping to throw stones (it’s a boy thing) I pondered whether our family visits had felt thus but with no discernible answer, soon headed for the football match.
131005 SCLD1 Littlehampton Town v Hailsham Town (51)wTen minutes later – following through the gate, some players and gentlemen carrying mallets – I made a beeline to circumnavigate this Sportsfield of dreams. Due to an overlap with the cricket pitch, the stand and covered terraces only sit along one side of the ground. Whilst there are plans afoot to change the situation, currently the perimeter fence opposite has to be removed between April and September, for leather on willow. Some distance back from the westerly goal, a comfortable member’s bar overlooks the playing surface; below it a fantastic tea bar is housed.
Whilst this season marks the 60th anniversary of The Marigolds actually playing in “gold” – founded Littlehampton FC in 1896 – they previously turned out in green, blue and white. Amongst some modest successes, 1991 is to date, the highpoint of their history. Championing the Sussex League, they also reached the FA Vase Semi Final and the FA Cup 1st Round Proper. Hosting Northampton Town in the latter, before a record 4,000 crowd, they lost but the highlights were televised later that night.
131005 SCLD1 Littlehampton Town v Hailsham Town (79)wThough today’s game was much lower key – following promotion as champions last season – it demonstrated a comfortable start to life back in Division 1. Whilst Hailsham looked unsettled by their manager’s over-animated demands, having produced much of the early running The Golds struck first. Some tenacious play down the left made an opening and George Gaskin deservedly headed home. Waking up the visitors, ten minutes later the game was all square again through Alex Thompson, and remained so to the break.
During an entertaining half time in the bar with James Roberts and Steve Bates, I heard legendary tales of ’91, the amalgamation with Littlehampton Youth, hopes for the future and, how James – being an Oxford fan – wouldn’t have volunteered if Littlehampton had played in “Swindon Red”.

a 131005 SCLD1 Littlehampton Town v Hailsham Town (112)w

The conversation continued deep into the second half where The Golds were once again the stronger side. First David Gaskin struck the bar and then, his fine play along with Shay Wiggins and sub David O’Callaghan, saw Wiggins shot blocked on the line. Chances kept coming but the breakthrough didn’t arrive until very late on.
Though seemingly 30+ yards out, Mitchell Hand’s freekick still hit the top corner like a rocket, and just before time – after superb defensive work by both Jon Hendrick and Ross McKay – George Gaskin deftly curled in a third past the outstretched keeper. There was time for more shots on target but, having had McKay dubiously dismissed, Littlehampton focussed on sealing their win.
I like marching bands as much as the next person but, for away days at the coast, watching competitive sport with stunning game-winning goals for a team in yellow, well – like finding a welcoming, debt free club that serves the half time cuppa in china – it just warms your cockles doesn’t it.

131005 SCLD1 Littlehampton Town v Hailsham Town (150)w

shorts league
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Initially appearing in the 2013-14 Watford FC matchday programmes, consequently these reports will have a delayed publication on here.

Fellow Yellows programme (11)

This entry was posted in 2013-2014, Fellow Yellows, Sussex County Football League and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Fellow Yellows – Littlehampton Town FC

  1. Colin Perry says:

    Our PE teacher at primary school introduced us to stoolball (I’m going back over 30 years here). It was something of a cross between cricket and rounders, as I recall. None of our class had heard of the game before we started playing it, and some of the boys misheard the teacher and thought we were playing ‘stewball’.

    Thanks for another good read.

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