Season 7, 1986-87
Following last season’s finish in the League as runners-up, we looked forward to the new season with great optimism, especially as three of the squad were available to play a second season. After the very first trial held at Millbrook School, our optimism reached new heights and we continued to show good form during the trials matches. The strength of the final squad was comparable to the previous season and again included three Year 5 players. On Saturday 18th October we entertained our friends from North Wales, Deeside, and for the first time we emerged as victors with a final score of 3-1; the goals coming from Ben Border, Richard Goodwin and a Deeside own goal. Our first League match saw Reading visit the Vale and another 3-1 scoreline in our favour meant our campaign was off to a great start. Michael Thorp, Richard Goodwin and Ben Border scored in the defeat of Reading. The second League match, at home to Beaconsfield & Chiltern, ended in a 1-0 defeat and although we won the next League match at Woodley & Earley 2-1 (Stephen Weaving and Ben Border scoring), the following week we tamely lost a Witney Cup match at Newbury by two goals to one (Ben Border scoring). What we needed was some consistency.
The next ten matches saw us win every one to set an all-time Vale record for consecutive victories. There were seven League wins in that run, High Wycombe 4-1 (Thorp, Goodwin and two from Border), Oxford City 1-0 (Border), Woodley & Earley 7-1 (Weaving 3, Goodwin 2, Border and Howard Forinton), Reading 2-0 (Goodwin 2), Newbury 5-3 (Border 2, Weaving, Goodwin, Thorp), Oxford City 3-1 (Forinton, Weaving, Border) and High Wycombe 4-3 (Goodwin 2, Weaving, Border). A 1-0 (Thorp) win against Weston-Super-Mare in the Southern Counties Cup and two friendly match victories completed the total. The run was brought to end by a strong Barking & Dagenham team in the Southern Counties Cup when the visitors ran out 4-2 winners, Forinton and Border scoring for the Vale. Our next match was away in the League to Beaconsfield & Chiltern, the only team to inflict a League defeat on us. A 4-0 victory, goals from Forinton, Goodwin and Weaving 2, ensured we were crowned League Champions with one match still to play. Sandwiched between those final two League matches we entertained Swindon in a Friendly and recorded our biggest victory of the season, 8-0, with goals from Stephen Haynes, Andrew Stickley, Forinton, Thorp, Border, Goodwin 2 and an own goal. The final League match was away to Newbury, where we won 5-3 (Stickley, Forinton and Border 3).
The Easter Tour started with a match at Brierley Hill & Dudley which we lost 2-5 (Weaving, Border) but the result was not a true reflection of our performance and we looked forward to the next day’s encounter with Deeside. In the evening after the Deeside game I telephoned Malcolm Fretter to give him the match reports for the newspapers. After providing details of the first match I went onto the Deeside game. DS, “To say we didn’t play well in the first half would be an understatement, there was a lack of commitment and after beating Deeside back in October, we seemed to think that just turning up would be enough. At half time we were 3-0 down. We had a little chat about what was needed for the second half and there was a greatly improved performance. We pulled two goals back, Ben Border and Ben Williams scoring them, but Deeside put the ball in the net twice during the second half.” MF, “So despite the improved performance in the second half you lost 5-2.” DS, “No, we won 4-3. Deeside scored two own goals.” MF, “You so and so. I thought you’d lost to them.” Not only had we beaten Deeside on their own patch, we’d also done the double against them. The final two matches on tour saw further victories against Newcastle-Under-Lyme 7-0 (Stickley 3, Weaving 3 and Goodwin) and Telford 3-0 (Thorp, Goodwin and Border).
The League Presentation match, held at Abingdon Town FC, resulted in a 1-0 defeat to a Rest of the League team but the final two matches of the season, both friendlies, meant we finished on a high note. Aylesford were defeated 3-0 (Haynes penalty and a brace from Goodwin) and South Oxon were beaten 8-2 (Stickley, Thorp, Goodwin, Weaving, Border 3 and an own goal). This season saw the squad score 111 goals at an average of 3.26 a game, which are both Vale records. Ben Border scored 14 goals in friendly matches, which is a record for one season, and had a total of 18 goals in friendly matches over his two seasons, which is also a record.
The members of the squad were, Ben Border, Robert Finch (Y5), Howard Forinton, Richard Goodwin (Y5), Jonathan Hamp, Stephen Haynes, Gary Hope, David Rutherford, Graeme Smith (Y5), Andrew Stickley, Michael Thorp, Stephen Weaving, Ben Williams and Marc Woodman.
Stephen Haynes was the captain and also received the President’s Trophy. The top scorer was Ben Border with 29 goals.