Willand Rovers  — Monumental Men, Ladies and Lads

Well I am sure you will have seen or heard the Willand roar on Saturday 2nd February. The club for only its second time played in the 5th round of the FA Vase we were drawn at home to Deeping Rangers who hail from Lincoln and are geographically pretty close to Peterborough. Due to the miles they had to travel to get to us they came down to the West Country on Friday.

Of course what we could have done without was a snow bomb dumping 3 inches of the white stuff 48 hours before kick-off. Well what do you do? Do you just sit there and hope it all melts away leaving puddles everywhere or do you think well if we clear this off the pitch we may have a chance of playing. Social media shouts were sent out and slowly the volunteers arrived armed with shovels, brooms, wheel barrows and started the momentous task of removing the snow, for the first couple hours it seemed to be a forlorn hope, but by lunchtime some 27 volunteers, men, lasses and lads aged between 10 and 80 were hard at it removing the snow and freeing the grass from its wintry blanket. However, there is always a risk of removing the snow allowed the pitch to freeze overnight and all that effort would have been to no avail.  Saturday came and we passed the 10am pitch inspection – game on.

Now of course the pressure was on the management and players to produce a cup victory. The pitch of course was heavy with the frost gone leaving the top inch sodden. Deeping came at us and put under pressure for the first 15 minutes and their efforts were rewarded by a goal, they also hit the crossbar and had one disallowed for off side. Willand tried to play and get themselves back in the game, we had a goal disallowed and hit the post but a strike from Brett Worbey took a slight deflection drew us level. Within a minute Deeping responded to go back ahead. But the half was not done yet Angus Wilson slotted home to again draw us level.

Whatever was in the half time tea and what words of wisdom were spoken? After a slightly low key first half, Willand bossed the second, the post again came to Deeping rescue, two were cleared off the line with the keeper beaten, was it going to be one of the cruel footballing days. But no Willand still had the guile, fight, fitness and strength to make one of the chances count, a delightful through ball found Dean Stamp haring in on goal, the big defender desperately trying to pull him down and on what was now a glue pot of a pitch the ball fell on Dean left foot and once there it was only going in one direction into the back of net between the keepers legs. Much to the raptures of the Willand faithful and the other 700+ support the team in purple from the West Country.

What a game, what a 48 hours, who says Willand Community spirit is dead? Everyone one the volunteers, committee, supporters, management and players have all played there part in creating history.

630 sides started on the journey to Wembley only 8 are left. Willand are now 2 wins away from playing there.

As you read this we should be about to start last two months of the league season, and what a season it has been. Entertainment is what our Management duo set out to achieve, in the calendar year of 2018 we scored no less than 120 goals averaging over 2 goals a game.

At the time of writing we sit top of the Western league with one defeat in the first 23 games. Even now the wet weather has arrived we continue to play exciting football. In fact we are the top scoring step 5 side in the country.

As mentioned previously the squad has been enhanced by the return of local boy Dean Stamp whose partnership with Craig Duff is now becoming the most feared in the league, with Duff pulling the strings just behind the main striker his arrival has also enhanced the flying wingers Luke’s Mortimore and Alden play.  Goals are aplenty. Veteran David Steele has reached a remarkable landmark with his 150th goal for Willand a fantastic strike from the edge of the area into the bottom corner at Shortwood.  Dean is close behind with 142 goals for Willand and if he stays for a few more years will undoubtedly become Willand top goal scorer ever. Another in the goals is Luke Mortimore who after 24 in his debut season which ended in March due to injury has scored  26 already this season, taking him to 50 goals in 73 games which is remarkable for a winger – we are very lucky to have him.

We have been successful in obtaining funding from Invest in Devon for some more ground work, the plan is to complete during the current season the pitch in fill.

We are also very grateful to Lee Waterman, Willand Service Centre who has provided 2 boots sponsor prizes to the player who has received the most man of the match nominations. For the period of August to the end of December Joe Curtis received his award from Lee after a number of imperious midfield displays, Brad Ausden was a close second.

As mentioned previously we are more than a football club, we have held an number of events all of which have been a great success and lots of fun.

Thank you to all who supported the Christmas Bingo we hope you won and some fun at the same time. Don’t forget that the bingo continues on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month.