Four-Nil To The Hooped Brazil
To the Avenue Stadium in Dorchester for the FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round, set deep in Southern League Evostickland where only the hardiest K's fans braved suspended trains, 50mph winds and driving rain.
But there was no more fitting or fated a 4-hour pilgrimage to make on the very same weekend we discovered Ryan Moss was returning to the Ryman Premier, though to rivals Dulwich Hamlet rather than back at K's. For it was right here in this historic market town, on 14 November 1986 no less, that Moss was born, winning Dorset Baby of the Year three years running until a controversial age-disqualification in 1990.
The birthday boy was marked for greatness at his local club, making his debut for Dorchester Town in 2005. He then sought his fortune in the Big Smoke of London, scoring 25 goals in the 2013/14 season as K's finished runners-up. The departure to Margate that summer was painful and yet the lure of Step 2 football [and oodles of cash] was understood by all who sang his name at Kingsmeadow. But Dulwich...
One bereft supporter described it as “the saddest transfer news ever”. He was right.
Such were my thoughts while strolling outside St Peter's Church in the centre of Dorchester where there stands a statue of William Barnes, the “Dorset poet”, whose work, following the death of his wife in 1852, speaks of loss and love in the unique dialect of his home county:
“Since I noo mwore do zee your face,
Up stairs or down below,
I'll zit me in the lwonesome place,
Where flat-bough'd beech do grow;
Below the beeches' bough, my love,
Where you did never come,
An' I don't look to meet ye now,
As I do look at hwome.”
But there was no time for this trip to descend into mere mawkish Moss-missing. There can be no lwonesome place on the terraces, not for long anyway, with a new-look K's and Pelayo Pico Gomez on form. And so on the outskirts of town, far beyond the pretty streets down which Moss's pram was daily pushed, we approached the [relatively] new stadium built by Dorchester Town, which, despite comprising mostly leftover bricks from the Tesco cathedral next door, is a tidy ground we would do very well to emulate.
The wind swirled violently, the rain lashed sideways. the home side lobbed long throws into the box and, within 2 minutes, it looked like things were going to go badly wrong, not least when Aaron Goode booted a low cross into his own net to give Town the lead.
Perhaps taking Barnes to heart, Chris/ “Muncher” refused to join the away contingent under the roof at the back of the side-stand, instead remaining alone, defiantly waving his umbrella at the open end behind the goal, answering calls for a song with a rendition of “Singin' in the rain”. There hadn't been as quixotic an away performance as this from a Ks fan since Neil “Bakes” Baker deliberately soaked himself at Wingate, a show of support which led indirectly to a Moss hat-trick in August 2013.
It will never be conclusively proved whether Chris's mad solitary support similarly inspired K's to greater efforts but true it was that twenty minutes later, the game turned. Pico Gomez, who would never sign for Dulwich, skipped past a home defender after a mazy Goode run, before firing a cross-shot at the back post for on-loan winger Reece Beckles to score. Chris jigged in delight, seeming to float in the air momentarily as his brolly caught the wind.
Just one minute later, it was 2-1. Again Pico picked the ball up in the box, turned and bamboozled the keeper with a low left-foot finish. With Bruce Hogg performing well at centre-back and Harold Odamatey appearing to play four different positions (all of them brilliantly) at the same time, victory beckoned.
But K's then contrived to miss a wonderful chance to finish off the game after the break, Beckles bobbling a volley wide and the inevitable Dorchester onslaught began. Still, they didn't really look like equalising until a hopeful free-kick was curled into the box 10 minutes from time and the unfortunate Dan Bennett glanced a header past Rob Tolfrey.
“Four-nil to the Hooped Brazil!” sang the away fans as both teams settled down for a replay. With the gusts and rain returning,
I travelled back into town to grab a photo of Barnes before retiring to the Wessex Royal Hotel for thoughts of Muncher, Moss's birthday and missed opportunities:
“An’ there a win’blast shook the rattlèn door,
An’ seemed, as win’ did mwoan without,
As if my Jeäne, alwone without,
A-stannèn on the stwone without,
Wer there a-come wi’ happiness oonce mwore.”
Match report by Taimour Lay.