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Falling for Football: Weymouth 1987-90

by: theterras

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Terras fan, Kenny Legg, wrote about his early experiences of watching the team for a book called, Falling for Football.

He first started watching us in 1988 and saw the team relegated twice in his first 3 seasons as a fan. Despite this, he remains a fan and recently featured in our Terras Abroad section. https://uptheterras.co.uk/2020/04/11/terras-abroad-kenny-legg/

He’s allowed us to publish his chapter from Falling for Football, which you can read here.

The book has chapters on the teams that made us fans fall in love with the beautiful game, from World Cup winners to Lewes and from the 1950s to the present day. It’s available on Amazon for less than £5
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Falling-Football-teams-shaped-obsession-ebook/dp/B00IUKMFW8/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=falling+for+football&qid=1589456956&sr=8-5

If you’d like to tell us your early memories of watching The Terras get in touch with us at ryan@theterras.com or via our Twitter (https://twitter.com/theterras)

“But really, who are your proper club?”

A question that, when I’m asked it, comes complete with a slight tilt of the inquisitor’s head and a wide-eyed look of bemused sympathy.

Weymouth FC are a proper club. We’ve got our own kit and a stadium with four walls. We, Weymouth, are the club I’ve passionately
supported since I was six years old. OK, maybe not passionately since the age of six. At the age of six I was only passionate about Thundercats and making fart noises, but something happened while watching the woeful Weymouth teams of 1987-1990 that has turned me into a fan of this ‘unproper’ football team ever since.

It must have been the first game? You never forget the first game. Well, um… mine was postponed. Our arrival at the stadium gates
saw us greeted by a rusty padlock across the gate and a sopping wet piece of paper saying “match postponed”. A truly tremendous start.
Maybe it was a sign (the event, not the piece of paper. I know the piece of paper was supposed to be a sign. I meant metaphorically). Maybe I should have asked that we turn the car around and speed away from the ground until the land of ‘proper football’ was reached?

Once I’d finally made my debut at the Wessex Stadium, my pre-match routine was quickly established. Mother Legg and I would pack my
bootbag full of chocolate, biscuits, crisps and Panda Pops. I was a fat kid. From 2:00pm, I’d stand in my brother’s bedroom, looking out at the front door of our next-door neighbour who would take my Dad and me to the game. He’d never leave the house before 2:20 and I’d spend the 20 minutes waiting time writing score predictions and the occasional motivational slogan using the medium of my own condensed breath and finger combination on the window. “Go Weymouth”, “Weymouth 17-0 Sutton”, “Weymouth 6-0 Aylesbury”. Rarely (i.e. never) did these predictions come true.

When next-door’s front door opened I’d sprint downstairs, like the excited little child I was, and harass Father Legg out of the door to
ensure we were waiting at the front gate in the 13.4 seconds it took our neighbour to back out of his drive and park outside front gate.

At that young age every trip to the Weymouth’s Wessex Stadium represented a whole heap of new heroes, vivid colours, unfathomable
noises, the concept of hated rivals, a foul-mouthed crash course in swearing and most importantly, the inexplicable emotions of being a football fan. Every week, Weymouth played teams that seemed to come from another world. A world of giants, of black people (for there were seemingly none in the arse-end of Dorset at the time), of teams in hideous yellow and brown kits (Hi Sutton United) and all arriving in Weymouth from places previously unheard of. Just where is Fisher? Is Aylesbury near here? Just who was the Victoria that Northwich were so keen to name their club after?

Every young football fan wants posters of their football heroes on the wall, my playground chums had Ian Rush and Gary Lineker on their walls. I didn’t know anyone who had a moustached, early 30s, Scottish left back for a hero, but Weymouth’s Willie Gibson was mine. Primarily as, I now realise, he was the player who operated closest to my position – sat on the gate on the halfway line, guzzling away on a bottle of E-numbers sourced from my bootbag of sugary delights.

One glorious, magical day, Father Legg arrived home with a black and white signed photo of me and Willie. My bootbag and I had appeared in the background of a photo in the local rag, in the foreground of which Willie was embarking on another mid-paced run forward. By some mysterious sorcery, Father Legg had managed to ascend to the higher levels that Willie operated on and got him to write a personalised message to me. Unbelievable. Years later I found out that my uncle worked in the same metal-bashing factory as Willie. This was a more devastating revelation than finding out that whole thing about Father Christmas.

The 1988/89 Weymouth team stank the place out. They finished rock bottom of the league and won only four home matches the whole season. My window-based predictions counted for nothing. Defeat followed defeat but, bizarrely, not once did I beg Father Legg to stop
taking me. In those early years I had chance to escape, became a fan of proper football like everyone else, but nope, I stayed. Jeez, I even
went to watch the reserves.

I quickly learned that the role of a football fan is to question the birth control methods employed by the referee’s mother, query the accuracy of the linesman’s last eyesight test and to abuse the members of the away team, while also besmirching one’s own players. Every week a barrage of abuse rained down on those on the pitch from behind me, launched from angry men who stood in the same place on the terrace each week to barrack Weymouth towards another defeat. I tried to join in. I like to think of it as an attempt to connect with my fellow fans through my high-pitched insults. It was on this terrace that I received an obscenity education. My first ever utterance of swear word came during this season when my brother was called “a bastard”, during a heated argument at home over a biscuit. I had no idea what a bastard was, but I’d heard useless defender Gavin Sandrey use it in anger during a match so it must be good. I got sent straight to bed, without a biscuit, soon after.

I also learnt the importance of having a hated rival, albeit one that is hated for no other reason than their temerity to be based in geographical proximity to Weymouth. The visit of Yeovil in January 1989 was greeted with louder noises, new levels of insults and a tighter grip on my hand by Father Legg. After a 2-1 defeat at home I knew I should always hate Yeovil. Weymouth were relegated at the end of the season and have not played them in the league since that day. I check the results every Saturday to ensure Yeovil have lost.

In the 1989/90, season Weymouth played in the Beazer Homes League and, again, it was a season of misery. Sixteen points by Christmas, on-pitch protests against the directors, the appearance of 41-year-old Frank Worthington for four games, an FA Cup defeat to lower league Exmouth and attendances down to just above 200. Quite what part of this appealed to eight-year old me remains a baffling mystery.

On January 13 1990, Weymouth played Barnet in the FA Trophy. Barnet were at the top of the Vauxhall Conference, the league we had just been spectacularly relegated from, and even my usual optimistic window-based score predictions foresaw a defeat.

As Weymouth battled hard against the yellow-clad giants from Barnet, the crowd broke with tradition and roared encouragement. We even took the lead – then halfway through the second half the ball bobbled just outside the Barnet penalty area and our captain, the diminutive midfield battler Steve Pugh, thundered the ball into the top corner of the net. We, Weymouth FC, were 2-0 up. I can see the goal now. I can hear the celebrations behind the goal. I can recall the feeling that something special had just happened and that all those other defeats didn’t matter as we were winning today.

To this day, that victory made me realise that Weymouth were my team and would always be my proper team. These seasons provided
me with a sense of the indescribable feelings that being a football fan encompasses, whatever team, at whatever level you support. Feelings
of unspeakable passion, of fated heroes and hated rivals, of dispiriting lows and unexpected wins, and of treasured memories formed by
those representing your proper club.