Gorleston: Remember Them?

By Pete H

If you play a team once in a blue moon, you might never get the chance to make amends for a duff result – like us against Gorleston. The footballing circles in which we operate are two very different ones. Even when we did have a reason to come up against the Greens, it was nothing more than a quirk of fate. And if you don’t get it right on the night, you can be waiting ages for another shot at things. So, let’s get the answers you’re dying to know – who are they, why are they in our archives, and did we make a mess of our head-to-head that we need to clean up?

Who are Gorleston Football Club?

Formed in 1887, there’s quite a lot of water under the bridge at Emerald Park. For those of you who don’t know, Gorleston is a town in Norfolk; sat next to – and just under – the better known Great Yarmouth. We imagine there’s quite the rivalry there. But we don’t care about that. In the beginning, the club knocked around in local leagues and competitions. The Norfolk and Suffolk League is as prestigious as it got during the first quarter of the 20th century.

Mind you, they won the title seven times. And that’s a pretty impressive and relentless march.

This did, however, mean the Greens needed a new challenge as the 1920s turned into the 1930s. In 1935, that challenge arrived; helping to form the Eastern Counties League. Nearly 90 years on, they’re still there too – though league success wasn’t too quick in arriving. The first few seasons saw them finish in the bottom half, before an epic 1952-3 campaign saw them pick up their first title. It was a feat they’d repeat three more times between 1973 and 1981.

Why do we know the Greens?

Of course, the Greens have remained in the Eastern Counties League for the entire time that we, as a club, have been in existence. It’s a bit off our radar too, so there was no conceivable reason for us to ever meet. The fact that we have all comes down to the FA Vase (as is so often the case at that level of the game). The 1984-5 edition saw us force our way past Holbeach United in the Preliminary Round and Haverhill Rovers in Round One.

Now, we thought Servowarm League Division Two North was higher in the non-league pyramid than the Eastern Counties League. But the Greens didn’t have to put up with all the Preliminary Round nonsense we did. And they only needed to overcome Potton United in Round One to get their place in the Round Two draw. With both of us in the hat, our two names came out side-by-side. And it meant the Norfolk side would make the awkward journey across to Broadhall Way.

What is our record against them?

Home advantage and the apparent higher standard we thought we had counted for nothing on the day. A strong looking Boro’ side found the net through the prolific Jim Beech in front of 422 spectators. But our guests found the net twice. And you don’t need a calculator to work out the sad state of affairs that was our FA Vase exit. We’re almost 100% sure that it counts as an upset. It’s no consolation, though. Nor is the fact they lost 5-0 at Bury Town in Round Three.

More importantly, our head-to-head record has forever since been skewed in their favour.

Gorleston: Boro’s Record

Our head-to-head: P 1 — W 0 — D 0 — L 1 — F 1 — A 2 — Pts 0 — WR 0%
Our last tango: Stevenage Borough 1-2 Gorleston, 01 December 1984

What happened to them?

Well, the Greens have continued on their merry way in the Eastern Counties League. But not, it must be said, without incident. After relegation to Division One in 1994, they returned up to the Premier Division within two years. The 2000-1 campaign saw them finish second – eight points behind champions AFC Sudbury. And then they got relegated to Division One again in 2005. It’s guaranteed to keep things interesting, if nothing else.

Since climbing back into the Premier Division in 2011, on-field fortunes did improve somewhat. They’ve finished third (once) and fourth (twice), for example. But the last completed campaign (2018-19) saw them end up well down the order. They were bottom of the table when the 2019-20 season was halted due to the pando. And the latest season barely got off the ground, before everything came to a halt again. So, a fresh start is in store come the 2021-2 season you’d hope.

It’s unlikely, however, to give us the chance to redress the balance of our existing head-to-head record; one that has put us on a 100% losing run for nearly four decades now.

• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Gorleston club profile

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