I have been watching football from national stadiums to village greens for a long time now, but even now I still get taken by surprise. A rare Friday night fixture in the Dorset County League fitted in nicely with a return from a week’s holiday in Cornwall. A little bit of research found the ground was not far from Wimborne Town’s scenic Cuthbury ground in the tiny village of Pamphill. I wasn’t expecting much other than a nice interlude to break up the long journey home, I had certainly never seen a picture of the ground before.
I pulled up well before kick off to check it was still on and found a real treat for my eyes. No anathema Arena seating stands here, just a gorgeous thatched roof pavilion and dugouts. Setting out the pitch were the Kingston Lacy manager and his father, who tirelessly tends the ground. The pair then filled me in on the furore gripping this sedate corner of Dorset. With genuine sadness in their eyes they recounted the tale that the local cricket club who own the lease to the ground, have asked the footballers to leave at the end of the current season. The ground itself is owned by the National Trust and a pretty avenue of mature beech trees border the playing field lead up to the gloriously opulent Italianate country manor house.
The Lacy club were reformed in 2006 under the stewardship of the Cherrett family and have had a successful climb up the Dorset County League. The club have played at the Pamphill Village Green for the seven years of the existence and Cherrett Senior works on the pitch six days a week to ensure an immaculate surface. He also maintains the school field and created two new strips for the cricket club as well. The issue is the current pitch is fractionally too narrow for senior status and the cricket club have refused permission to widen the pitch. The dispute has raged on and ultimately the cricket club, who stage only nine home games a season, have invoked their right as leaseholders to throw the football club off, citing “lack of maintenance” as the reason. I am no turf expert but the footballers play on the outfield and there are no worn patches at all. Some Football League clubs would be proud to still have lush green turf at this stage of a season! The latest meeting broke down in considerable acrimony and without resolution. Lacy have one home game left of this season against local rivals Witchampton United on May 7th. Such is the ill feeling, it is likely that the game will be staged at Witchampton instead. Failing to resolve the dispute or find an alternative venue means the future for Kingston Lacy Football Club is uncertain to say the least.
The match itself was a very decent standard, the youthful looking visitors of Piddletrenthide United took a first half lead through Chris Rawlings. The home side levelled proceedings early on in the second half through Graham Cole. The match looked to be drifting to a draw as dusk enveloped this pretty little ground when the visitors were reduced to ten men when Craig Kellaway limped off with a nasty looking ankle injury. Substitutions already made, Lacy took full advantage of their numerical advantage with Pete Pritchard nodding in two late headers to seal a victory for Lacy.
The onlookers, numbering 34, enjoyed a spirited encounter and Cherrett senior reported a sell out on chocolate bars and had to dispatch a volunteer to procure emergency milk supplies! A beautiful and inspiring corner of rural England deserves some peace and tranquillity. Let’s hope the dispute can be favourably resolved as currently there are no winners here.
Friday April 26th 2013
Dorset County League Senior Divsion
Kingston Lacy (0) 3 (Cole 53,Pritchard 88,90)
Piddletrenthide United (1) 1 (Rawlings 29)
1. James Park; 2. Matt Norman; 3. Matt Rose; 4. Grant Cormack(c); 5. Mark Reynolds; 6. Nick Park; 7. Gus Bell; 8. Matt Charlton; 9. Pete Pritchard; 10. Graham Cole; 11.Matty Cox.
Subs: 12.Simon Woodruff (for 11, 54 mins); 14. Jay Adams; 16. Ollie Cherrett (for 7, 66 mins)
1. Adam Loyde; 2. Jonny Stewart; 3. John Wills; 4. Chris Rawlings; 5. Dan Belt; 6. Dan Gardner; 7. Ryan Ross; 8. Craig Kellaway; 9. Neil Kellaway (c); 10. Will Ramsey; 16. Darren Boacher.
Subs: 12. Gareth Will (for 7, 60 mins); 14. Nick Paul (for 3, 69 mins)
Yellow Cards: Reynolds (Lacy); Rawlings, N.Kellaway and Boacher (Piddletrenthide).