Six-a-Side Tournament Report

Well. A dazzling bright Sunday morning and I just dropped in at the Lane.

First problem: couldn't park for love nor money. The whole place was alive with the Borough Means Business six-a-side tournament. Artistry in slow motion, so to speak, if the players won't mind me saying so. Little bursts of pace and skill, followed by measured recovery for the 50% of players who were over 35. (I was reminded of a Vets' game that I once refereed in Germany, where the Alt-Herren-Mannschaften are thriving: perfect cross from portly winger on the right; soaring climb by centre-forward, whose header sailed wide but his toupe spun off and arced into the top corner...)

But back to the point. The place was buzzing with both activity and people - players, refs, girlfriends and wives with the littl'uns in pushchairs. My good colleague Andrew Raeburn, master of the microphone, with a whistle in his mouth (assessor's report to follow). Dave Rogers, that most affable of officials, enjoying the banter. James Hopkins looking only slightly harassed in the scorers' tent. Lorna - bless her, don't we so often take her for granted - admitting to a little bit of late-season fatigue but still as generous as ever with that wonderful great big smile.

Stepping around the buggies and picnic blankets, I wandered on. Some supporters may never have spotted the training pitch behind the main stand: what a fine green flat surface, a credit to Robbie B, and properly floodlit nowadays for the winter evenings. This morning in blinding sunshine it hosted the Under-13s against their league leaders, with proud parent Garry watching young Liam (and admirably resisting temptation to coach somebody else's team!). We reflected back on a very honourable draw against Kiddy and a really spirited team performance. Maddening that Borough will finish the season only three wins or so away from BSP survival, and you could easily count up three or four matches that should have garnered those points.

Doubtless as the six-a-siders draw breath, the clubhouse will be heaving with genial good cheer and a few tactical assessments of the morning's victories and defeats. And some time the Under-18s will be returning from their County Cup Final this morning at Peacehaven - at time of writing I don't know the score, but well done to Shaun and his lads either way.

And so the life of the club goes on. In more than half a century of non-league, I have seen plenty of highs and lows including relegations, bankruptcies, clubs in terminal decline, clubs at civil war with each other. That is far, so far, from what I saw at Borough today. Remember Kipling's line about meeting with triumph and disaster, the two imposters. Yes, this is a club swallowing hard and gritting teeth to cope with real disappointment, and it does hurt. But this is not a club spiralling downwards. The rebuilding will have to be done, and the sleeves will need to be rolled up again - perhaps by a new generation of supporters and loyalists, to back up the original Langney Sports generation - but the foundations are solid as a rock.

Borough Means Business Football TournamentBorough Means Business Football TournamentBorough Means Business Football Tournament