Can we end over forty years of hurt? They say every club has a bogey team, opponents against whom you seem destined to struggle and never beat.
Last season and this, that would be Totton with four meetings and four defeats but over a much wider expanse of time, Tiverton Town must rank as our least favourite opposition.
Back in April 1981, they were having a nightmare of a season, bottom of the Western League Premier Division with a single victory to their name and Frome’s visit to Ladysmead further compounded their misery.
Doubles from Steve Gay and Mike Malpas plus further strikes from Mark Johns and Steve Whitemore saw Bob Boyd’s Robins romp to a 6-0 rout but somehow, for some unknown reason, they must have offended the footballing gods who decreed that the Devon side would get their revenge again and again and again…
Over the forty-odd years since, the clubs have met on twenty further occasions with the head to head record being a tad one-sided as the table below (from a Frome perspective) shows…..
Played Won Drawn Lost Goals for Goals against
At Badgers Hill 9 0 1 8 4 24
At Ladysmead 11 0 1 10 7 46
Total 20 0 2 18 11 70
Following relegation in 1981, Tiverton took eight seasons to reclaim their place in the topflight of the Western League where they became a force of nature, dominating the Division throughout the 90s (no automatic promotion to the Southern League then) and how Frome suffered.
Until their own demotion in 1996, they managed a solitary goalless draw in fourteen league encounters while taking some regular heavy beatings.
None more so than in the 1994-95 season when, on a black Tuesday night in the October, The Robins, enduring a miserable campaign of their own, succumbed to a 10-1 defeat in Devon while the return, on the final day here at The Hill when Tiverton had to win to clinch the title from neighbours Elmore, they did so emphatically by six goals to nil.
Fast forward a decade and a bit, both clubs had risen to the Southern League but avoided meeting each other until a wet Boxing Day in 2017. It was very wet, in fact, raining from dawn to dusk and many believed the Premier Division encounter at Ladysmead should not have started in the first place.
Frome acquitted themselves well, however, to the difficult conditions and when goals from Ollie Knight and Jon Davies gave them a deserved 2-0 interval lead, the jinx was just a tantalising 45 minutes from ending.
But no, because seconds into the second half, with the unrelenting rain showing no sign of relenting, the referee decided it was too wet after all and abandoned the contest, much to Tiverton’s relief and the rearranged fixture, played some three months later, was drawn 2-2.
The sides last met in the 2018-19 season where a brace of 3-1 Tivvy victories contributed to The Robins’ relegation from Premier Division South.
So, a plea to the current squad, none of whom were born or even thought of when FTFC last tasted victory over that lot from East Devon…..it’s time to make a bit of history, time to end forty one years, four months and twenty three days of hurt.
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