No beers but make ours double double, please

Pompey Grove are chasing a double double
Pompey Grove are chasing a double double
A silent tribute to Ronnie Williamson before the match at Privett Park  Picture: Ian Hargreaves (180018-1)

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There’s a new breed of parks footballer – and they are taking the beautiful game by storm.

Gone is the pre-match pint to cure a heavy hangover after stumbling out of bed 20 minutes before kick-off and frantically searching for the football boots among scores of empty beer bottles.

Professionalism is taking over in the form of Portsmouth Sunday League premier division champions Pompey Grove.

And Grove’s 4-0 thumping of third-placed Wicor Mill highlighted just how their method is paying off.

It was a 15th win from 15 league fixtures for the rampant Grove side this season.

And their hot-streak dates back even further.

Pompey Grove manager John Corns said: ‘We haven’t lost in the league since November 2008, which I think is something like 39 matches.’

Last season’s memorable run ensured Grove lifted the premier division title and the Buster Gordon Memorial Trophy.

And they are targeting a repeat performance.

‘We did the double last year,’ smiled Corns.

‘And this season we have already won the league and we’re in the final of the cup, hoping to do the double again and make it the double double.’

Corns admits his team play to win but says the camaraderie within the squad is excellent.

He added ‘We’ve had pretty much the same lads for the whole run and we all live in the same area; Paulsgrove.

‘We are a close unit and there is a great resilience in the team.

‘There has been times this season when we’ve been close to losing our record. We’ve gone 2-0 down but still come back to win 4-2 or 5-2.

‘And, although you have to have a degree of seriousness, you’ve got to enjoy it, too.’

Whilst their unstoppable charge in the league continues, Grove did have one disappointing defeat to rectify.

And it was Wicor who did the damage, knocking them out of the Hampshire Cup earlier in the season, leaving Grove seeking revenge.

After pitching camp in the Wicor half, the leaders finally got their opener just before the break, top-scorer Lee Lodge finishing superbly after an assist from his brother Bradley.

In the second half, Grove laid siege on the Mill goal.

Lewis Crooks was gifted possession inside the box before seeing his shot brilliantly tipped on to the bar by Wicor keeper Louis Ashton.

Unluckily for Ashton, though, the rebound fell straight to Crooks who poked in for 2-0.

Lodge made it three soon afterwards, finishing strike-partner Ricky House’s knock-down.

With Grove looking to increase their impressive goal difference, even defenders were bombing forward in what began to look like a 2-2-6 formation.

But they were continually thwarted by the excellent Ashton, who kept the scoreline down with a string of outstanding saves.

Grove did finally make it four, though.

House added his name to the scoresheet after bulldozing his way through.

With another three points secured and a cup final to look forward to, the professionals at Grove could well be toasting another double.