The DCS is a relatively new stadium, just about 7 years old. It feels new. It is part of a sports complex which also boasts a state of the art 3G training pitch. Not only is it home to Stratford Town but also Birmingham City Ladies.
The stadium has a covered seating area on one side of the ground. The rest of the stadium is, at this time, hard standing only with no cover. There is a covered standing area currently in the process of being built behind one goal. The lack of cover would become an issue for many spectators later.
The main stand side of the ground also features the tea and snack bar, main bar and hospitality lounge. The ground, as a whole, has a nice clean and tidy feel too it. However, as with many of these purpose built stadia, it lacks character in my opinion. I completely understand the need to move to newer more cost efficient facilities but I sincerely hope that we manage to retain some of the more atmospheric grounds.
As it turned out, Tuesday became one of the more ‘chatty’ of my ground hops. Before-hand I had a short conversation with a fellow hopper on Twitter who was also planning to be at the match. It didn’t take too long to spot him (the Wycombe Wanderers hat was a giveaway). I also bumped into a fellow Baggie sufferer, had a chat with some of the Wimborne officials (don't mention Poole Town), a Stratford supporting dog (with owners) and a brief discussion with a local die-hard.
More about the football supporting dog. Early in the first half a couple came and stood quite close to me. Strange, I thought, the whole ground to choose from and they stand right next to me. Then I realised they had a dog with them and I was standing in the only spot that didn't have an advertising hoarding attached to the perimeter fence. It turns out that they had to stand there so that their dog could watch the game. Sure enough he (I didn't ask his/her name) sat calmly and appeared to be glued to the action. He made no attempt to chase the ball, as you would imagine a dog to do, but seemed genuinely transfixed by the match.
The match itself was affected greatly by the conditions. Wimborne certainly started the better of the two sides but, to be fair, both sides were giving it a good shot considering the wind gusting around the ground. To make matters worse the rain that was expected at around 9-10pm decided to make an early appearance. By midway through the first half it was lashing down. This gave the paying punters a dilemma. The wind was blowing directly into the only covered area. So, the choice was, hunker down behind the far wall, avoiding the wind but getting soaked or sit in the stand, keep dry but risk freezing from the arctic blasts hitting you in the face. A tough one! I opted for the former, standing with my back to the perimeter wall thus eliminating the wind. I was getting wet but actually felt fairly
On 16 minutes Wimborne took the lead after a small period of pressure on the Stratford goal. It was, however, short-lived. Three minutes later Stratford equalised through a penalty. The rest of the half was pretty even and, I have to say, good value for money.
On 51 minutes Wimborne took the lead again with a cracking 30 yarder. Albeit wind-assisted, it was still a fine strike into the keepers top right hand corner. Once again though, Stratford were able to hit back quickly. Barely six minutes later a free-kick from the Stratford left was caught by a gust of wind and eluded everyone, including the Wimborne keeper. 2-2 with just under an hour played.
Stratford were definitely beginning to get the upper hand now and, following the award of a very debateable free-kick, they hammered home their third of the night to take the lead for the first time.
By the time Stratford made it 4 in the 88th minute, the wind and rain had become practically unbearable. The gusts of wind were so strong at times that the rain felt more like hail.
The majority of the crowd, even the Wimborne contingent, were imploring referee Lisa Rashid to blow for full time which she duly did to spark a mad dash to the comparative warmth of the car.
To give credit to both teams and referee , it was a highly entertaining game of football played in progressively appalling conditions. The 122 (+1 dog) present certainly got great value for their £8 admission fee. I didn't see the couple with the dog again. Presumably, they had to stand in the pouring rain for the whole match so that their canine pal could get a good view. Still, I'm sure he went home happy with the win and maybe even dreamed of that perfect cup tie against Barking.
Stratford Town - @StratfordTownFC
Wimborne Town - @wtfcupdates