Godalming's ground, The Bill Kyte Stadium, carries the name of their legendary former President, Mr Bill Kyte who, before his death aged 98 in February last year, had been with the club for 57 years. There is a very touching tribute to the man they called Mr Godalming Town on the club's website (Bill Kyte).
Parking at the ground is limited to players and club officials but there is a large car park on Wey Court just a few hundred yards from the entrance to the ground. Admission is through a single turnstile that brings you into an area below pitch level and directly behind the main stand. In this area is the clubhouse, the snack bar and toilets as well as a large whiteboard that is used to display the teams (I love this. More grounds need this sort of arrangement). There are few steps up, either side of the main stand which also houses the changing rooms, that take you up to pitch level. Aside from the aforementioned main stand, there is also covered standing provided behind both goals. The amenities at the ground give away the fact that the team played two steps higher not that long ago. The ground has a good feel to it and some character and, as Shorts Man (see below) pointed out, it would be great to see the place full one day.
The game this evening was a Combined Counties Division One Challenge Cup match, a trophy currently held by Frimley Green.The sides couldn't have been coming into the game in much different form. Farnham, currently sitting in second place, were on a run of six games unbeaten in all competitions, which included five consecutive victories with only two goals conceded. Godalming, despite having won their last league outing 4-2 at home to Ash United, had lost the previous 4 in all competitions, sat third from bottom and had, only the previous evening, suffered the resignation of their manager Les Cleevely. Add to that the fact that the team had been pulled together at short notice, and all pre-match indications pointed to a Farnham victory. What no-one had taken into account was that I was going to attend the game (more of that later).
I'd like to add at this point that I picked up quite a bit of the local news (manager leaving, team changes etc) from Dave Fiddler, aka Shorts Man who got a few mentions the last time I saw these sides meet back in February 2018 (Shorts Story). It was great to catch up with Dave in person, chew the cud a little about football, rugby league and current affairs. Dave is still out there in all weathers, supporting The G's in his shorts and, this particular evening, a T-shirt! when every else was wrapped up in jumpers and jackets. All I can say is that he is from the North. They are a different breed. Nice bloke and a great supporter of the club. They are lucky to have someone like him.
The game started off as the form book would have it. Farnham settled the better and looked eager to establish themselves. This they did as early as the 8th minute when a break down the left saw the ball fed into the box to the feet of captain Charlie Oakley. His deft back-heel was nicely into the path of Jack May but his shot was parried by Adam Giles in G's goal. The ball fell back to Oakley who arrowed a left-foot effort into the corner of the net to make it 0-1.
The goal was like an alarm clock to the home side. Almost immediately, they roused themselves and began to look for a way back in. The breakthrough didn't take too long either. After 17 minutes they were level after a lovely move down the left and a lovely, crisp angled drive from Ben Bauchop found the far corner of Boughton's net. 1-1
Eight minutes later and the home side had completed the turnaround. Lively winger Reece Weekes found some space on the edge of the box but saw his shot (yes, shot. Not what I had mistakenly tweeted at the time) come back off the post. Donte Lodge-Francis was first to react though, snapping up the loose ball and planting it into the Farnham net. 2-1
HT Godalming Town 2 Farnham Town 1. A very good response from the home side who seemed to need the wake-up call of going a goal behind to get themselves going.
Three minutes later came the goal of the game. Darren Wheeler picked the ball up out on the left, danced past a few tackles and then clipped a delightful shot, with the outside of this right foot, past Boughton and into the far corner. 4-1
The game looked to be done for Farnham after only 6 minutes of the second-half and just before the hour mark the home side sealed the deal. Good work down the left saw the ball fed to Lodge-Francis for a simple finish to claim his hat-trick. 5-1
Farnham, to their credit, steadied the ship a little after this second-half onslaught. They even managed to get a goal back after 64 minutes when Karma Thomas was presented with a tap-in to make it 5-2. However, the initial flurry after getting one back didn't lead to any more and it was Godalming who almost increased their lead when Weekes struck a post shortly after Thomas's goal.
FT Godalming Town 5 Farnham Town 2. Three goals in twelve minutes at the start of the second-half ended the game as a contest. Farnham kept fighting and got themselves a consolation goal but never really threatened to make it a close finish.
So, the form book was turned upside down. Maybe, given my record of watching Farnham, it wasn't such a shock. This was the third time that I had seen them play and the third time that I had seen them lose. I think it may be a good idea for me to steer clear of their games for a while, but I am determined to see them win one day. Meanwhile, I am happy to take donations to charity for me to take my jinx to another club.
Just before posting this I saw an announcement that fourth goal-scorer Darren Wheeler has been announced as interim manager. Congratulations Darren!
Godalming Town: Giles, Hardisty, Francis, Mbele, Scotcher, Sellick(c), Villa, Bauchop, Lodge-Francis, Wheeler, Weekes. Subs: Cavender, Grant, Carter
Farnham Town: Boughton, Mitchell, Smith, Sowden, Harper, Branch, Pegg, Meaton, Oakley(c), Thomas, May. Subs: Nash, Corbett, Sharratt, Kerrison
Ground Number: 218