And so we have it, like our Yankee cousins from across the water like to call it, the end of the regular season. Our final game was to take us back to Brighton and face Whitehawk (DICK count: 1) who have Steve King now in charge. They also now find themselves sitting inside the last relegation zone going into their final game of the season. Things never really seemed to pan out this season but the fact remains that we are guaranteed a play-off spot. And also we are now looking likely to finish in second space. All that is required is that we at least match what Bromley do and that would save us all the palaver that goes with goal difference and the like.
|How on earth did they get that up there??|
The first surprise of the day was when after some communicating with the Firm Leader he arrived in his new motor. It was none other than a Juke! Cue many jokes of hands on Duke's shaft and being inside Duke all the way to Mitcham Junction. It was here that we had decided to change the usual plan and jump onto a tram.
Now I haven't been on a tram for quite a while and I did begin to wonder if we could've forgo the £1.45 for the journey and try to bunk it. Fortunately we didn't do that because at Beddington Lane a ticket inspector got on and scanned our oyster cards. Much of the conversation between me and the Firm Leader was about the play-offs. I think we both agreed, given the choice that we would rather go out at the semi-final stage, instead of getting beat at home in the final a few hours before the end of season piss up.
Arriving at East Croydon with plenty of time to spare we decided to get some dollar from the hole in the wall and loiter outside waiting for the rest of the Firm to arrive. First on the horizon was Crockett and Little Sam, looking like they had a cheeky Sambuca in the local Spoons. Next was the Welsh Wizard who strutted into the station looking like a 1950s Beatnik. Last to arrive was Indiana Jones, a broken Sean Connery, The CEO of CES and finally our Editor-in-Chief.
|Someone call an ambulance. He's gone and got it stuck again....|
Our plan was to meet up with other members on the train coming from Clapham Junction. There was a slight problem when after buying a dozen tickets it turned out that they might've been the wrong tickets. The Editor was quickly dismissed back to the queue and for the next twenty minutes entered into negotiations with the fella behind the jump. The result was that we missed two possible trains and the group from Clapham had to get off and wait with us.
The train we finally caught was a little busy so we were forced to split up around the carriage. I was next to Mr X so most of our conversations revolved around the club and some of the forthcoming fixtures. Some of the Firm managed to squeeze next to one of our physios from the club but I was too far away to hear any of the conversation.
Arriving at the station later than planned we headed towards the first pub of the day "The Queens Head" and my first pint of cider. Also to make up time, someone decided that we need to have some chasers. My chaser of choice was a shot of fireball to warm my insides. After a couple of pints some of the real ale drinkers decided to head around the corner. We instead decided to have another pint here and then head towards the next pub.
The Prince Albert was the next venue of choice, and this place is unique as it has a massive painting on the side of the building. Another cider down the hatch and now it was time to see some of the boys fail miserably on the arcade. I won't lie to you but somehow even the first level of frogger seemed beyond some of them. Food was also ordered by most of us, luckily one fella only wanted a bacon sandwich but was forced to buy a full breakfast. I was on the receiving end of a couple of sausages, hash browns, egg, tomato and some beans. Not to mention some large chips as well!
The service left much to be desired but by this point a couple more pints had been consumed by most of those present. Totts by now had arrived and began to regale us of his trip down that included some class with a glass of Shiraz and a king prawn & rocket sandwich. The boy definitely has some flair going on! There was some debate about possibly getting the old electric land train towards the ground during the week, but cooler heads prevailed and we decided to catch a cab instead.
The cab ride was hilarious as we decided to take the mick out of ourselves and other people within shouting distance. The best bit of banter was as we arrived near the ground. Going past a tennis court with a couple smacking a few balls caused Mr X to scream "OUT!" which caused the fella to stop playing and then look somewhat confused as we drove by, He didn't seem too impressed!
|The masses gather....|
Arriving at the little ground we saw that there was one tight turnstile open. A tenner later we were in the bar drinking more alcohol. Much of the commotion was all about the team that had been announced. I was quite surprised that the starting eleven was going to be a lot stronger that I had originally thought.
Brown, Binns, King, Spillane, Philpot, Clough, Sawyer, Haysman, Dundas, McCallum, Williams
Bench: Downer, Sinclair, Spetch, Taylor, Lovelock
Shooting towards the half covered end, Sutton started the brightest with a couple of half chances inside the first five minutes. And with the sun coming and going we appeared to lack that final touch to keep us second and send Whitehawk down. After the opening shots, Whitehawk started to get into the game with the defence several times being called into action, but unlike last week with Brown doing all the work today it was the boys in front of him that held sway.
Sutton were to take the lead midway through the first half when Binns managed to drift into the box and hit a low and hard shot into the opposite corner. 1-0! Our lead was not to last more than five minutes when a soft challenge by Clough resulted in a clear penalty. The resulting spot kick was calmly slotted home to the delight of the smattering of fans at the open end.
|Enjoying the sun.....|
With the scores level things went from bad to worse when Whitehawk took a surprise lead when some lax defending found Mills on his own with acres of space to simply head the ball passed Brown. Thinking the worst and with half time fast approaching some of the supporters began to head towards the clubhouse. Even I was about to leave when a splendid through ball from Spillane was latched on by Dundo. The keeper done well to stop the first effort but the ball spilled under him for a happy Dundo to stab the ball home. 2-2!
Moving around towards the bar area I decided to wait as Sutton came on the attack. A hopeful punt up field was collected by the keeper. Binns seemed to be running onto nothing, but hearing our lord Dos scream for action Binnsy carried on. The keeper tried to down the Brown turn and failed as Binns took the ball off him. He even tried to first grab him around the neck and then swipe his legs, but Binns calmly popped the ball in off the post. 3-2! I ran screaming in the bar my delight of the score, much to the disbelief of many that were already in there.
Second half saw us take refuge on top of the Withdean seats at the other end. There was some humour as someone tried to sit on the temporary seats to only fall through it much to the delight of the lads around him. Binns & Clough were replaced by Spetch & Taylor and away we went. The second half was pretty much a dud, with the only action was really up the other end. With a quarter of an hour left on the clock Whitehawk equalised when a cross was taken down well and slipped into the back of the net.
|Better celebrations than Eastleigh....|
The rest of the game saw several chances for us to relegate them. The highlight being Taylor's 30yrd lob that went comfortably wide. Most of the conversation on the terrace was about who indeed was going to get relegated. Unfortunately news had filtered through that Dover had scored a late penalty at Hayes. This meant we would play Dover and Whitehawk were safe. Out of the three I think I would've sent Whitehawk down, not because of the club but just because of their manager and his previous form.
After the game we headed into the clubhouse to see some of the other scores come through on the old box. I will admit that I was still disappointed with once again dropping points to teams at the other end of table, but that is my cross to bear. Getting bored of the celebrating students we decided to hit up a cab and head back into town. Having six of us in the cab did cause it to rub ever so slightly as it went over the bumps.
Somehow we didn't lose Totts as the door on his side didn't seem to close properly. The meeting place for everyone was the "North Laines" pub were they did serve one of my preferred tipples Weed. After waiting for everyone else to arrive it gave me ample time to charge my phone and for everyone to have a couple more pints. Trying to leave took its time as one of our members decided to pick the brains of the local bouncer.
|Er. Answers on a postcard....|
The next pub on the list was the "King and Queens" where apparently there was a world cup on display. After seeing it, it was decided that the monstrosity was an embarrassing example of a cheap Chinese reproductions and we left somewhat disappointed. Some of the group got split up as we weren't allowed in the next pub because we were wearing colours, so off to the pier we went where we found Ms Loughlin and the Firm Leader.
Horatio's Bar is the pub that is at the end of the pier and it was here that we continued drinking. I even managed to waste a lady Godiva on a ride with old Mini Cooper. Couldn't believe it. the thing went round like twice and ended, bollocks! During this moment of trying to capture my childhood, the rest of the Firm were still drinking at Horatio's and even managed to get a couple of people to do the Dundo for our amusement.
Bacon noodles, I fuckin' love bacon noodles. After introducing them to the rest of the Firm last time meant that they needed no pushing from me this time round. Lashings of soy sauce and hot chili sauce meant that I could hand over a couple of quid for an exquisite meal out of a plastic container. With the light now fading we walked up to arcade to see the rematch of the dance off. The winner was again never in question but well done to the CEO who bested his score from last time.
|Sadly Horatio wasn't in....|
We managed to now walk around like a bunch of tourists looking for anywhere that would let a group of football supporters in, we eventually made it back to the station and went back to where it all began, the Queens Head. With some of the Firm inside and the rest outside a member of our group decided to chat to any person that came near him. The results of this had us all in stitches by convincing one man that he could only be racist on the other side of the street and another unsuspecting drunk lady that her skirt was much too long for her.
A couple of the group decided that enough was enough and left us to carry on drinking (who would've thought we would make it home before them) and after stocking up for the train we made our way back to London and East Croydon. There was still time for someone to buy himself a packet of dairy lea lunchables where unfortunately most of it was to end up thrown against the glass that separate me from the rest of the group. Arriving at East Croydon, the Firm Leader opted for a sherbet and I managed to tag along. Saying our goodbyes to the ones that remained we headed off back towards Carshalton and home.
Dover on Wednesday and a opportunity for me to get the old beast out. I've already had requests from Juan (remember him?), The Firm Leader and the Editor for lifts. I also believe a call has gone out for us the wear yellow, I might instead go for a touch of amber myself. Still we are only three possible games away from a return to the Conference, but first we have to get past our friends at Dover.
|We'll see. They might come up!|