Evening all! The Gold Cup still reserves itself a special place in the hearts of Island football players and supporters alike and, although Island League sides rarely have the opportunity to contest the final, much less win it (the last time an Island League side triumphed was 2001 when Oakfield were victorious) there has probably never been a time when the gap between the senior sides on the Island and the top clubs in the Island League has been more narrow, and with West Wight having already disposed of Newport in this season’s competition, there’s going to be plenty of local footballers eyeing the chance to lift the famous old trophy.

So, I’m sure Shanklin will be fancying their chances of pulling off a cup shock tonight. And they do have form in this area too. Although we’ve come out on top the last six times our paths have crossed (most recently at this stage last season), in 1991 they secured a famous victory against us, winning 2-0 here at Westwood after a 1-1 draw at The County Ground the previous week.

Back to league matters and it was disappointing getting beat by Horndean on Saturday, although they were clearly one of the stronger sides we’ve faced this season. Thankfully other results went our way, with both Newport and Amesbury also on the wrong end of heavy defeats. Anything less than a win for Newport tonight against Brockenhurst and relegation is confirmed. Amesbury have a few more bites at the cherry, but have tough games lined up with Andover, Hamworthy and Portchester all visiting Bonnymead Park in the next five days. The best thing about our game was undoubtedly the latest impressive gate, with no less than 151 turning out for our last home league fixture, giving us an average of over 115 for the season: absolutely brilliant support at our level, and very much appreciated by everyone at the club. Thank-you all for your support.

At the other end of the table, two ex-Yachtsmen are gunning for glory this week, with Joe Butcher and Aidan Bryan looking to help catapult Blackfield above Andover to claim the Wessex Premier title. Andover have had a bad case of the wobbles in recent weeks and three wins from their last four games will be enough to earn the Watersiders top spot. Best of luck, boys!

This Saturday the First Team travel to Brockenhurst and, perhaps, our best chance of picking up another win this year and securing Premier League football for next season. Any veterans of previous trips to Grigg Lane (or the Meadens Skoda Arena, as it’s now apparently branded) will tell you it’s a grand day out, and there’s a sizeable group of Yachtsmen making the trip this weekend. The ‘Country Corner’ mob from the other side of the ground are inviting all-comers to join them in kicking things off in the Fountain at 11am on Saturday, but if you fancy a slightly more sedate, or restrained, day out, it’s a dead easy trip, being just 15 minutes from Southampton or 5 minutes from Lymington by train. Wear your colours, make some noise, and don’t forget your drinking trousers…

Sholing away next Wednesday is also eminently do-able, although Shaftesbury away on the (new) last day of the season a week Saturday is a harder one to manage by public transport (a 1hr 20 bus trip from Salisbury gives you a idea. Maybe someone will hire a minibus…)

But first things first and there’s the no-small matter of the Gold Cup to deal with, and a place in the semi-final up for grabs, so whichever favours you’re wearing tonight, good on you for getting out and supporting your local side, and here’s to an entertaining match.

Enjoy the game,

Toby.

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