“Championes, championes, ole, ole, ole” sang the players as they gleefully bounced up and down in front of their clubhouse, several drenched in sparkling prosecco. The sun, absent for the majority of the game had appeared with immaculate timing so it was therefore quite literally Bosham FC’s moment in the sun as they were presented with the trophy for winning the Southern Combination Division Two title.
They’d managed this with two games to go after taking all three points in their previous game with a 2-0 win over Roffey whilst second place Jarvis Brook were held to a goalless draw, by Sidlesham, the same opponents Bosham had just faced in their 11 o’clock kick-off holiday Monday game.
Rather sportingly Sidlesham had formed a guard of honour to applaud Bosham onto the pitch, but there the niceties ended. Bosham’s final position may have been decided, but Sidlesham were still engaged in a tight battle for third place in the league, having just a one point lead on fourth placed Lancing United.
Bosham, playing in their final home game of the season, similarly showed no sign of taking it easy. Their live-wire number 10 Marco Giambelardini signalled his intent early on with a speculative curling effort which the Sidlesham ‘keeper did well to hold, before later stinging the keepers palms with a rasping shot and finally, in the best chance of the first half, hitting the post, causing it to give off a rattle which was probably even heard by the sort of Boshamites who prefer to spend their bank holiday sailing out in the harbour than at football.
Going into the game Giambelardini was Bosham’s top scorer with 33 goals in all competitions, including five hat-tricks. This speaks for itself about his quality up front, but what equally impressed was his ability to be all over the pitch, not just up front, but also back in defence where he made several crucial tackles.
Despite Giambelarsini’s best efforts however, Bosham went in at half time having failed to break the deadlock. Between them Bosham and Sidlesham had found the net 181 times in the league this season, but they also boasted the best defensive records with Bosham conceding just 21 times and Sidlesham 28 times.
Nothing which happened over the next 45 minutes acted to change any of those numbers. Giambelarsini continued to pose a threat, but seemed in general to be slightly quieter than in the first half. As the half progressed though it increasingly looked as if Sidlesham would play the role of party-poopers by grabbing a winner and they were presented with such an opportunity late on when the Bosham ‘keeper – who came on at half-time as a replacement for the first-choice goalkeeper who appeared to be struggling with a lower-leg injury – dropped a cross under pressure. With the referee allowing play to continue a Sidlesham player got to the loose ball, but only to put it over.
As it was the game finished 0-0. It may have been only the second occasion Bosham had failed to score this season (the previous occasion being a goalless draw with Roffey at the end of March) but that did not appear to dent the mood as the old men in league-official blazers began setting up a table in the corner of the pitch and the Bosham club linesman ditched his flag and appeared with some bottles of bubbly which he jiggled enthusiastically for a good ten minutes to ensure they went off with maximum pop and fizz.
A couple of the Sidlesham players stayed around to watch the celebrations, though most had by that point disappeared into the changing rooms. A slight irony is that due to ground grading requirements Bosham are unable to gain promotion, meaning that although they received the silverware and had their moment in the sun it could be Sidlesham who get to take a step up to the next level.
(on a slightly different note I’ve just seen another review of my book – Cup Football an Exploration – you can see this here)