EXTREME WEATHER AND DOUBLE HAT-TRICKS
New Year’s Day 1986 was bitterly cold and the late morning Western League derby at Melksham’s Conigre ground was in doubt.
The travelling Frome faithful were not in optimistic mood having seen their team win only one of their last six games scoring just twice in the process and spirits fell further when it was discovered that even the beer pipes were frozen.
A thaw had set in and the old school attitude of ‘let’s give it an hour’ paid off as the referee deemed the pitch playable for a noon start but it was a poor contest leaving some wondering if the players had over celebrated the night before with a postponed fixture in mind.
Melksham had the better of this lacklustre affair, scoring a brace of first half goals which The Robins never looked like pulling back and few would begrudge them their 2-0 triumph, but the day wasn’t over for back at Badgers Hill, the high-flying Reserves were in three o’clock action.
Reformed after being disbanded eight years previously, they had taken Somerset Senior League Division Three by storm, sitting top of the tree on the back of a sixteen-match unbeaten run and hopes were mildly optimistic of a bit of a goal fest against bottom side Wells City Reserves.
The weather once more would play a major part as heavy rain began to fall, making the rapidly thawed pitch treacherous to play on but it mattered not to Frome who ran the visitors ragged as they reached half time six goals to the good.
As the winter monsoon intensified, so did the deluge on the Wells goal with double figures soon reached but it was against an uncertain background of being called off at any time.
Minute by minute, the hapless Wells team grew increasingly unenthusiastic save for their dogged young keeper who performed heroics in his quagmire of a goalmouth.
Club legend Steve Walkey was having a field day, scoring six times and he was matched goal for goal by Trevor Atkinson as they went 14-0 up just after the mid-point of the second half, a remarkable rate of a goal every three minutes since the interval.
But with the rain now biblical and increasingly freezing, the referee called it off and sprinted for the sanctuary of his changing room. One or two irate supporters pursued him but gave up the chase when met with the words, “The result stands!”
And sure enough it did as league rules then allowed an abandoned match result to count if at least 70 minutes had been played.
The Reserves went on to be champions, losing just three of 38 games (or should that be 37 and three quarters?), netting 127 goals and a number of them including Terry Atkinson (brother of Trevor), Tom Gomes, Darren James, Paul Antell and keeper Paul Churchward would step up to the First Team.
One of the strangest New Year’s Days…two games, one began late, the other finished early and a fourteen-goal hammering.
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