No.39 - Sat 26th March 2015; Central & South Norfolk League Division Three;                           3pm at Neatherd High School; Norwich Road; Dereham; Norfolk; NR20 3HZ 


Matchday images (60)

Dereham Taverners (2) 3  Swanton Morley Cockers (0) 0

'Taverners suffer goal drought...'

I reckon like most football travellers I tend to pick a game from a short list of possible 'hopper'-tunities that seem to take my fancy. I suppose a bit of thought goes into drawing up a short list before making the final decision taking into account things such as family commitments, time and travel constraints and dare I say it, the weather, which has, for all of us, played such a big part in our plans this season. Sometimes the game itself may be even more important than just ticking off a new ground on our never ending 'to do' list and that can often take priority.     


I have been tempted for some time to visit Dereham Taverners Football Club, members of the Central & South Norfolk League, to take in one of their home games. Based at the well appointed Neatherd High School on the outskirts of Dereham the team plays on a new fully enclosed floodlit 3G all-weather surface found at the back at the complex (it's referred to as the Arena). I must admit that I have always kept this in mind as a back up ground when the elements are bad and all other local games have succumbed to the ravages of rain and the dreaded waterlogging leading to postponements. So far I have this season though I have been lucky enough not to rely on it - if you know what I mean.


In local footballing circles the club has achieved great success in a relatively short period of time. Since joining the league only two seasons ago (entering at the bottom tier, Division Four) they have formed an impressive squad and won all the major competitions at this level. Indeed I was lucky enough to see them win convincingly at the now defunct Dereham Athletic in a league game back in August. More recently I travelled up to Docking (see to watch them overcome the North West Norfolk League side 5-1 and progress through to the Norfolk Primary Cup Final, a competition they coincidentally won last season. A glimpse at the current C&SNL league tables makes impressive reading too as the club has amassed over eighty goals (with a GD of +70) in their campaign so far in Division Three. Along the way they have won several matches recording high scores in the process notably beating: Northwold (by 8-1 both home and away); Swanton Morley Cockers (by 1-9) and Rampant Horse (by 13-0).


Today the Taverners welcome Swanton Morley Cockers to the Arena for a league game. Their opponents are based only four miles away in the village of the same name (without the Cockers bit!) and are having a thoroughly miserable time of it languishing at or near to the foot of the eleven team table for most of the season. On paper it looks a home banker and, dare I say it, the chance to watch a bit of a goal fest thrown in for good measure. It is with this in mind and against my better (more rational) judgement that says I should really leave this as a back up in bad weather, that I make my decision to go there. In a nutshell I must confess that it's my chronic avarice for watching a few goals and nothing else that has got the better of me today - I really should hold my hopping head in shame!! A quick phone call at midday confirms the game is one and I'm on my way up the A11 to Thetford and beyond.


The Neatherd High School is found to the west of the town centre. Turn right at the main crossroads in the town along Yaxham Road (next to the Tavern pub - the club's HQ) and take the next turning right down Norwich Road. Signs for the school soon appear after passing the fire station with the main entrance on the same side of the road. With designated car parking near to the front of the school buildings football visitors have to walk from here through a narrow courtyard passing alongside some classrooms before reaching the well appointed all weather area around the back next to the main the playing fields.


According to enthusiastic and helpful club secretary Tracey Johnson the new sports facility was opened back in November 2014 by former Norwich City and England international Dean Ashton. The project was totally funded by the school who incidentally didn't receive a single penny from the FA. The club pays to use the venue for both matches (65 per game) and training when Tracey runs sessions for youngsters including girls teams. What commitment and dedication! Apart from all the usual fixtures and fittings dotted around the perimeter there's a purpose built railed off standing area inside the cage for spectators so they can watch the action in comfort.


My hopping strategy backfires big time as the game doesn't turn out to be the goal glut that I had first hoped for. I hope no one from Swanton Morley is reading this! A strong and swirling wind gusting across the pitch spoils the chance of watching any decent passing football. For the record it's the Taverners who come out on top as expected and win the match by a 3-0 score line. The Cockers field a spirited and well organised side that defends resolutely throughout. The pick of the goals is scored by centre back Lee Bryant who makes a late run into the area and fires home a bullet header from 10 yards out following a corner from the right hand side. As is the norm neither a programme nor refreshments are on offer at the game.


Tracey explains that it has been quite a difficult week for everyone at the club having seen the side defeated 1-0 by Marham Wanderers (from Division Two) in the Pease League Cup Final held at Dereham Town's Aldiss Park ground on Wednesday evening. Remarkably this was the first game that the Taverners has lost in almost three years following an unbeaten run that has lasted for an incredible forty-six matches. They are still involved in two more upcoming finals including the prestigious Norfolk County FA Primary Cup Final (to be held at the FDC in Norwich next month) where by sheer coincidence they've guessed... Marham Wanderers!! Watch this space for more.    


A visit to this friendly club comes highly recommended. For more details check out the club website as well as the superb league site regularly updated by affable and super efficient league officer John Turner. It's a cracking resource for hoppers containing loads of up to date news including club ground details as well as links to the generic Full-Time pages. The joys of playing the hopping lottery continues...whatever the weather...have fun wherever you go, no matter what the score!!        


FGIF Match Stats

Scorers: (H) Woodcock (18, 58), Bryant (28) and (A) N/A  

Attendance: 17; Admission: Free; Programme: None; Match rating: 2/5; Ground rating: 4/5.



edited on 27/03/15