All roads lead to Wembley; Horndean FC v Brockenhurst FC FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round Saturday August 11th 2012

All roads lead to Wembley. Here I set out on a journey to the hinterland  of the F.A cup taking in the very first round of the competition – the extra preliminary round. My match report of can be found here on ‘The Real FA Cup’ site. This post is a short account of travelling along just one of the many roads to Wembley.

If you accept the logic behind the phrase all roads lead to Rome then all roads lead to Wembley, including the A3(M). The road even has a strangely beautiful concrete bridge whose luscious curves mimic the Wembley arch.

The A3(M). Just one of the many roads to Wembley.

It is this road, or various iterations of it, running between Portsmouth and London which is responsible for much of the current shape of Horndean on the map. Initially a staging post it now seems every-inch the metroland as I pull off the motorway and pass the kind of voluminous Morrisons you can find in almost any built up area.

I then join the A3 what was once, before being upstaged by the motorway, the principal main road to London  passing by the Colonial Bar opposite which was once, according to the Horndean FC website, the old workhouse behind which earlier Horndean sides played their football. Immediately after this sojourn through the past I turn into Five Heads Road, further along which is my destination Five Heads Park, Horndean FC’s present ground. I’m heading here to see Horndean take on Brockenhurst in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup in what is the very first round of the competition which will end with the customary big finale at Wembley stadium on May 11th 2013.

Turning off the A-road gives the place at once a different feel. A sprinkling of cottages and it seems more leafy and rural. The leafy-ness increases the closer I get to the ground which is located somewhere near the northern edge of the built up area which stretches along the course of the road to London and reaches all the way back to Southsea.

Reaching the ground I find a parking space in a small patch of grass adjoining the main car park – which itself looks small enough to have trouble accommodating two teams plus officials.I pay at the gate, get my programme (no problems here) and find a spot alongside the idiosyncratically sloping pitch (see Hopping Around Hampshire for a superb description of the gradient of Horndean’s playing surface).

As I wait for the game to start I look out over the distance. Clearly visible is Portsdown Hill with its collection of forts and one structure which always looks to me like a beached stealth-warship. Having reached the end-point of my journey,or at least for the next couple of hours, I relax a little. The referee blows the whistle for the start of the game signalling the beginning of the journey for Horndean and Brockenhurst- not to mention the teams contesting the other 199 matches in the extra preliminary round. For the various winners of these games each will take another small step along the road to Wembley whilst for the vanquished all roads lead to home.

Two interesting facts about Horndean:

1.) The H in Gales HSB stands for Horndean.

2.) Harry Potter plays for up-front Horndean FC

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4 comments

  1. Thanks for the mention of Hopping Around Hampshire above! We’ll probably end up reporting on the same match at some point during the season! I thought I read in The News preview of the match that the club had leafleted the area advertising free entry? Did I imagine that? I do dream about odd things sometimes! Anyway, I’ve bought a ticket in Row Z at Fratton Park for today’s match to celebrate the mention in this piece. I’ll keep a close look out for any players hoofing the ball towards me, as footballs are well-known to end up in Row Z.

    • No problem. I’ve really enjoyed reading your descriptions of grounds on Hopping Around Hampshire and the description of the slope of the Horndean pitch had me laughing quite a lot. When I was there I was wondering just what a game would be like there on a windy day as I’m sure a ‘keeper with a decent wind behind him could end up scoring.

      I had to pay £5 to get in, but I’m not from the area so maybe they had an entry-with-flyer type affair. If they did I don’t think it was too effective as a promotional tool as there didn’t seem to be too many people there – in fact there seemed to be more people in the bar just outside than were in the ground. There loss though as it was a reasonable day out.

      Hope you enjoy the game at Fratton Park – I look forward to reading your report. I’m sure we’ll cross paths soon too – You should be able to spot me as I’ll be the one occasionally jotting things in a small notebook and taking pictures of the stands and things.

      Neil

      • Ah, apologies for the shoddily late reply…No Pompey report from me – I go to plenty of matches that I don’t write about, and that was one of them. Good game though, tremendous atmosphere, the best in quite some time at Fratton.

        If Horndean did leaflet locally, offering free entry on a day when Pompey and the Hawks weren’t playing, they must feel like giving up with only 40 turning up. What else can they do?

        Oh, and if you see me at a ground, I’ll be the one with a camera but no notebook, looking for rollers and old bus shelters and stuff. Totton & Eling next. Not expecting any rusty old groundsman’s equipment there! Should be a good game though.

      • It is a shame about Horndean as they have a reasonable ground, very nice clubhouse and seem to be making the right noises as far as their role in the community is concerned. I just hope their crowd figures do improve, though, like you say, I’m not sure that they can do much more.

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