It’s another hit for Shabba

John Bennett is helped up by Shabba and Salisbury players after being hit by a ball
John Bennett is helped up by Shabba and Salisbury players after being hit by a ball
Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Supporters have always been seen as a football team’s 12th man.

Yet, as one spectator at Salisbury FC’s Portsmouth Junior A Cup semi-final tie with Shabba found out, sometimes you can get a bit too involved.

As the Dockyard League’s treasurer, John Bennett had turned up at the Rugby Camp to watch Dockyard division two side Salisbury.

But as he walked along the sideline, the first thing he saw was a ball flying straight into his face.

Bennett was immediately dazed by the impact and fell to the ground, causing concern amongst all those around him.

With help from members of both teams, though, he managed to get to his feet and, thankfully, no damage was done.

However, Bennett admitted the ball’s impact wasn’t his main worry.

‘All I could think about was how was I going to get back up with the arthritis in my knee!’ he said.

‘I wasn’t watching the game as I was just walking along the touchline.

‘But as I looked round, the ball was just coming straight at me.

‘Of course, when it first hit me I was a bit stunned but I’ll be the laughing stock of the whole league now!’

The culprit for the incident was Shabba winger Kevin Sawyer.

Although the headache he gave Bennett was an accident, the pain he inflicted on the Salisbury defence was definitely intentional.

Two goals inside the opening 30 minutes from Sawyer set Shabba on their way to a convincing 5-2 victory.

If his first was good – a well-taken volley at the back-post from a Jamie Adams free-kick – the second was unbelievable.

Sawyer latched on to a loose ball before belting a left-foot half-volley straight into the top corner from all of 30 yards.

Like Bennett, Gosport & Fareham League club Shabba have been the butt of a few jibes themselves, their team name the source of a recurring joke amongst their division two opponents.

Named after the famous ‘Shabba’ lyric from the early-90s song Mr Loverman by Shabba Ranks, manager Don Rugge explained how his side had become a tribute to the Jamaican ragga artist.

‘We filled in everything we needed to when it came to starting up five or so years ago but when we went to the meeting to get inducted into the league, we didn’t have a name.

‘So I just rang a mate of a mine and said “What shall we call ourselves?” and he said “I don’t know, Shabba?” and that was it.

‘Before the start of our games, someone will always say “come on, Shabba” and the opposition will be straight in, singing “shabba” which we get every week.

‘I guess it’s a way of getting the name out there, though, and at least no-one forgets us.’

Two goals to the good and cruising, Shabba looked as cool as Ranks was himself in the 90s.

Soon, they were four goals ahead after strikes from Christopher Roseby and Callum Laycock.

It would have been five had striker Lee Phillips not missed a first-half penalty.

Salisbury fought back, though, scoring twice in five minutes through Ashley Twells and Kev Sadler.

But Laycock sealed Shabba’s passage into the final with a brilliant lob, leaving boss Rugge with plenty to sing about.

For promotion hopefuls Salisbury, though, the defeat comes as a real kick in the teeth.

Or as Bennett might say, a ball in the face.