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Bridport goalie recalls town's worst football defeat
FOR young wartime evacuee Rex Harris it was a Bridport football match to forget, as the local team were given a drubbing when the town organised a Buy a Spitfire week.
Now Mr Harris, who was the hapless Bridport team’s 15-year-old goalkeeper, wonders if anyone else recalls the actual final score of the fateful game against a combined services opposition – who all turned out to be extremely fit professional footballers serving in the forces.
Mr Harris, now in his eighties and living in Woburn Sands, near Milton Keynes, is hoping to revisit old friends at the Bridport Grammarians reunion on Saturday.
Mr Harris recalls that the match was part of Spitfire Week in 1942 with a target to raise £5,000 to pay for another aircraft for the war effort.
The Bridport team was a scratch 11 of amateurs and the spectators were treated to many goals – scored by the away team – leading to what was possibly Bridport’s greatest soccer defeat.
“I seem to remember that the day was wet. “We learned just before the game that the Combined Services team comprised mostly of professional footballers, but we held our own reasonably at the start,” recalls Mr Harris then a pupil at Bridport Grammar School.
“The football of course was made of leather which got heavier and heavier as the game went on, and goal kicks we took were lucky to get outside our own penalty box. “Never, before or since, have I had such a ‘busy’ time between the sticks.
“Whilst feeling honoured to have been selected to represent Bridport, I was desperately disappointed by the result, feeling I’d let down the good folk of Bridport who had been so welcoming and kind to me as an evacuee.
“Nevertheless I made wonderful lifelong friends and as an adult – with my family – spent many visits and happy times re-visiting what I had come to consider as my second home.”
Mr Harris is hoping to see old pals at the Bridport Grammarians reunion.
A church service is being held at St Mary’s followed by lunch and reminiscences at Church House.
For more information contact Sandra Brown on 01308 423078.