MORCAMBE – 6 [Eastwood 29,45 Jackson 70 Drummond 80 Smith 83 Lyons 88]
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Watson 48, Riley 63]
Just 7 days after doling out a nice spanking to Salisbury in the Trophy, it was our turn to get a right good hiding.
The result was probably a little unfair given the U’s battling performance on the day, but it did expose the woeful lack of cover we have in defence. Also, as this was the longest trip so far, this is gonna be the longest report so far!! So I’d get the the kettle on if I was you.
The Sutton United formation drinking team set off at the ungodly hour of 8am bound for the apparently snowcapped hills and dales of ‘sunny’ Morcambe. Apparently the weather had been a bit shit over the last couple of days, so we thought it best to leave our shades and sun lotion at home for this one. And 3 and a bit hours later, we roll into Preston looking for refreshment.
Sadly the boozer we want isn’t open. Luckily there’s a corking little cafe opposite and we scoff a late brekkie of Sausage & chips, washed down with a lovely mug of northern tea. Then we nip over to the now open pub for a swift pint and a bit of a watch of the Gooner – Leicester game. Next stop, Lancaster. Which is a bit of a milestone for yours truly. As you may know, we ‘collect’ Firkin pubs as we roam the English countryside in the name of football and Lancaster is my 100th of these boozers. An old church houses the pub along the main road and it’s huge. Bob calls me a jammy get. Ha, he’s only jealous ‘cos his 100th was a right shithole in Wolverhampton!
After Lancaster it’s the short drive into Morcambe itself. The ground is quite impressive. Covered on 3 sides, with huge terracing behind both goals. Ah! Time for a swifty before kick off! As Bob gets the round in, a huge local taps me on the shoulder. “Any big black blokes in your side?” he asks “Er, no, only Watson and he ain’t that big” I reply. “Nah mate, I saw a huge bloke get off yer coach” says my new found friend. Then it clicks. “Oh, you mean Nko! He’s normally a sub, you’re alright there!”
“Good” he says. “Our lot can’t handle big black blokes”. Bollocks I think to myself, where’s JR? This could be a match winning bit of intelligence. Or maybe not. Little do I realise just how right the big Morcambe fan was, as you’ll read later.
So to the game (At last!) No big shocks in the line up, with Bazza still suspended, Riley fills in at centre back. We kick off and spend the first 20 minutes bored rigid by a severe lack of any action. Most of the home sides attacks are floundering on our offside trap. “That’ll go to ratshit come second half” says Col. Knowing nods from all. Then Morcambe have their first real attack. A break down the flank sees the wide player cut in and fire a shot dangerously close to the far post. A couple more of these opportunities is followed by the ‘shrimps’ taking the lead. A corner is flicked on at the near post and Eastwood arrives to head home unchallenged from 8 yards. This at least fires our lot up and we start to attack a little more interspersed with swift attacks from our hosts. Our best chance falls to Harford 10 minutes from half time when Watson heads down a Skelly cross. I’m not sure if he tried to flick it or volley it, but whatever he was trying to do, the ball ended up in the arms of a grateful goalkeeper. Then the U’s charitable side rears it’s ugly head (also known on the Shoebox as ‘Fuck it up right on half time’). Our defence goes to kip, they attack and Mr Eastwood is waiting to slot the ball past Howells from a low pass into the box. Another poxy goal right on half-time. If I had a pound for every time that’s happened this season, I’d have, ooooh, about 12 quid.
‘Judith’ buggers off to the bar to obtain pies for the crew. Mark back home texts me to say Chelsea are 4-0 down at Sunderland. Heheh! Just wait till he gets back with the grub! Oh sod it, I can’t wait that long, so I call him on his mobile. Everyone else laughs their arses off as they watch poor old Chalmers reaction from a distance as I break the news.
Pied up, we stagger round to the other end and await the restart. When the action does resume, it’s quite apparent that JR has burned a few lugholes with his teamtalk (profanity laden abuse more like!) as the lads actually seem up for it. Just how up for it they are is made apparent just minutes in. A decent move down the left and Sears plays a ball towards Sammy on the edge of the box. The little forward steps over the pass and allows it to run to Watson just behind him. Watso has a clear sight of goal and his firm low shot spins in off the near post and nestles in the far corner. Woo Hoo! The Morcambe back 4 look a little bemused. The goal defiantely rocks the home side as the U’s really start to look half decent! A few more promising moves later and we get the feeling we could seriously get something out of this other than a storming hangover. Just after the hour we win a corner. JR takes the opportunity to introduce Nko to the action. We chuckle amongst ourselves, remembering my brief conversation in the bar with the large bloke.
We chuckle a little louder when the entire Morcambe back four takes a look at our huge substitute. It breaks into hysterics moments later, when it appears the defenders still have their minds on Nko. The corner is flicked on at the near post and Andy Riley arrives to head powerfully down and past the ‘keeper for 2-2. ‘Judith’ and I go mental (Well, if you’d travelled 285 miles, so would you!!) and then join in the merriment with the rest of the gang.
Now we’re seriously looking like we’ll win this! The home defence looks a bit ragged and we’re getting plenty of time on the ball. Paul Harford almost nods us in front when Brookers cross has him challenging the ‘keeper in the air. He wins out, but his cushioned header drops a fraction wide of the post.
Shortly after and Morcambe’s pacy frontmen have twigged the offside thingy and are getting more and more threatening as the moments tick away. They get the lead back when the midfield fails to make a challenge, backs off and exposes the defence. Riley makes a telling tackle on the edge of the box, but the ball drops to Jackson and he fires into the top far corner. The 4 stewards stood atour end go nuts. Nice to see good old fashioned impartial officiating has made it this far north! Rather than fold, the lads roll up their sleeves and get stuck in. Jimmy Dack makes his only serious contribution in one attack. His volley 8 yards out from an angle beats the ‘keeper but shaves the top of the bar. Almost straight away, a lightning attack catches out the less than pacy Riley and Berry at the back. Drummond tears into the box and hammers the ball past a helpless Howells in off the underside of the bar.
3 Minutes later and it’s 5-2. Another ball over our crumbling defence is latched onto by Smith and he draws Howells before slotting home. In between, Howells has been staging another act in his one man crusade to keep us in the Conference. 3 brilliant stops from one-on-one’s to add to the 3 wonderful saves he’d made in the first half. Sadly, our gallant goalie is left exposed just one more time by his defenders. A badly organised wall faces a free kick from 20 yards out. Lyons steps up and thumps the ball beyond Gareth and into the far corner. Bugger.
The boys keep pressing for another goal, maybe just to give us loons behind the goal something more to shout about. Unfortunately they fail in their quest and this match will just be seen as a really good hiding. OK 6-2 is a hiding! But it really doesn’t give credit to how hard the boys really worked. To be honest, the ‘shrimps’ forwards were on fire today and they’d have given anyone a good going over, but I just can’t help wondering what would have happened if we’d gone 3-2 up or levelled at 3-3. But that’s life eh? Ho Hum.
Now for the piss up. We’re staying overnight at Bob’s uncle’s house in Sheffield. So we head down towards Manchester and over the Pennines. Sadly we fuck it up somewhere along the way and end up in Huddersfield rather than our planned destination of Barnsley. Not wishing to waste the opportunity, we locate the Huddersfield Firkin and scratch it off the list! Then we finally get our bearings and manage to find our way to Barnsley.
Now, Firkin pubs are’nt renowned for being trendy watering holes full of ‘Steve & Tracy’ types, they’re more your studenty, pissed up Sutton supporter kinda boozer. Not the Barnsley one. We walk into an atmosphere best described as a tarts windowbox. Come on guys, ever walked into the perfume department at a big store? And then choked half to death on a lethal cocktail of Yves Saint Laurent, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein?? Well that was just like this pub. And that was just the blokes!!!! Choking on the noxious fumes, we stagger, hankies over our faces to the bar. There we find that the choice is again a wonderful selection of either Tetleys, Tetleys or errrr, Tetleys. I think we’ll have 4 pints of Tetleys please.
Next to Sheffield, where 3 Firkins await. Bob kind of knows the area and manages to guide us there. Sadly, the ‘Floozy & Firkin’ is no more. Another victim of the great Bass bastardisation of the Firkin chain. We have a beer in rememberance. (Tetleys of course, but the smoothflow shite.) My beer is particularly bad and leaves me feeling a bit rough. We hit the last 2 Sheffield Firkins (More fucking Tetleys!) and retire to our lodgings via the take-away.
Next morning and a Colin fry up later we thank our landlord and sod off home down the M1. Via 2 Firkins of course! Ashby-De-La-Zouche and Rugby are also crossed off the ever shortening list.
At least we’re at bloody home next week.
MAN OF THE MATCH : Gareth Howells! 7 or 8 world class stops to prevent the home side hitting double figures
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. We did ok and 8 goals is enough for me!
TEAM : Howells, Brooker, Skelly, Riley, Berry, Harford, Harlow, Dack, Sears, Winston, Watson SUBS : Little, Baker, Ekoku, Rowlands, Hutchinson