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Great Wakering get the World Cup Willie’s - Great Wakering Rovers 0-4 Canvey Island

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Brian Jeeves on duty for Football.com at Burroughs Park

It’s forty-seven years to the day since the English game celebrated it finest achievement, winning the World Cup. Since that memorable Wembley triumph over West Germany, the country’s footballing masses have been treated to an accumulation of disappointments, penalty heartache and generally feeling sorry for themselves, with the occasional “nearly” thrown in for good measure. So, what to do to commemorate this aging landmark? Simple, visit the Doomsday Village and spend the night reminiscing, whilst taking in a friendly fixture between two of the games great footballing outposts, Great Wakering Rovers and Canvey Island.

At this point, I sense a few eyebrows rise. However, for those of us in the Burroughs Park press box, this game, like every other we watch, is every bit as special. My faithful sidekick Ed, and Glen Eckett, who is scribing for the Islanders programme and website, join me in the “special seats”. Not only that, but sitting just along from us is a bloke who looks uncannily like Bobby Charlton, it couldn’t be...could it?

Nonetheless, why a legendary Manchester United and England player would visit us doomsdayer’s is anyone’s guess. Perhaps, like us, he needed something to take his mind of the years of hurt that have followed his and indeed our, finest hour...unlikely, but hey, we’re at a football match, taking in its spontaneous urban flow, and that as far as we are concerned, is living the dream.

 Anyway, game on. Rovers create the opening opportunity, but Dan Trenkel’s cross is headed clear by Rob Bartley, though it is clear that Canvey have settled the quicker. After Rovers defender Nathan Fletcher cut out Jay Curran’s searching cross, the Gulls grabbed the lead.  From the resulting flag kick, Rio Bryan-Edwards soared above the throng within the box to power a header past goalkeeper Adam Seal and high into the net.

Canvey are now under the management of former player Danny Heale, an instantly likeable chap who is determined to do things his way. During a loan spell at Burroughs Park during the previous campaign, it was clear to see he was a thinking man’s footballer. Now, given the chance to pass all that knowledge on, his charges respond with some crisp neat football that is quite pleasant on the eye. After Seal had denied Curran with a quite brilliant save, the visitors doubled their advantage. Seal did well to keep out Simon Thomas’ effort, only for Spencer Bellotti to fire home from close range.

Rovers looked for a way back. Nick Humphrey cleared his lines as Trenkel lurked at the far post, while Jay Smith should perhaps have done better, heading Gary Paterson’s centre wide of the target. Nevertheless, before the home side could make any headway, the deficit increased. Bellotti was enjoying his evening, and just before the half time brew, he raced away before beating Seal with aplomb to put the outcome beyond doubt.

One would have expected Rovers to return to the fray with a flea in their ear, however, the Islanders started where they left off. Seal flew out to hack clear from the on-rushing Thomas, and then the Great Wakering custodian sprung to his right, turning aside Matt Games long-range strike.

The home side’s sporadic attacks bore little fruit. Joe Skeels half chance was snubbed out by the Canvey rearguard while Paterson’s ball across the goal found no takers after the Rovers front man had done well to round Dale Brightly.

After Thomas had scuffed a glorious opportunity, Canvey eventually made it four-nil. Seal misjudged the bounce of the ball and the ever-alert Bellotti was on hand to make the most of the keepers blunder. What’s this, a hat trick, forty-seven years to the day!  Perhaps it’s a sign? I wondered what our Bobby Charlton lookalike was thinking...unless...no it couldn’t be..could it?

Whistler Steve Parmenter expertly dealt with a bout of over exuberance late in the day. I like “Parms” style of refereeing; he played the game at a decent level with Bristol Rovers and was capped by Wales at Under 21 level. Note to the Football Association, former players know the game better than some of the numb nuts we supporters have to endure week in week out, up and down the county. Another pointer to the FA’s bigwigs is that in business (you keep reminding us football is a business), the customer is always right, something they seem to have conveniently forgotten. 

With the game in its burning embers, Bobby Charlton makes his exit. “He thinks it’s all over” Ed cries out, and regardless of Bellotti missing a late chance, the shrike of Parmenter’s whistle confirms, that it is now.

Great Wakering Rovers; Seal, Radley, Read, Benjamin, Hepburn, Fletcher, Skeels, Trenkel, Paterson, Williams, Smith.

Great Wakering Rovers substitutes; Matt Hambleton, Harry Skinner, Malaki Toussaint, Tom Roberts, Louis Godwin – Green.

Canvey Island;  Brightly, Sellears , Humphrey, Game, Bartley, Bryan-Edwards, Curran, Nash, Thomas, Bellotti, Dumas.

Canvey Island substitutes; Sands, Baucutt, Alaile.