RYMAN PREMIER DIVISION
CROYDON – 1 [McDonnell 31]
SUTTON UNITED – 2 [Akuamouah 30. Fowler 64]
Oh yes. The highlight of our season so far. The one we’ve all been waiting for. Away to Croydon.
If you’ve ever been to Croydon’s ‘Arena’ ground, you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say it has to be one of the worst views of a football match you”ll ever experienced. A place that needs to give out pairs of those little red binoculars you get in the theatre when you purchase your programme. The only ground in the world where the distance between the players tunnel and the touchline covers 3 different postcodes. In fact it’s so bloody far, the teams have to leave the dressing rooms at just after half one so that the match can kick off on time. Apparently a couple of seasons ago, the Billericay team stumbled across a bunch of dishevelled figures dressed in rags on the hike to the pitch. it turned out to be a visiting team from Walthamstow Avenue who lost their way sometime in the mid 70’s.
It’s true! I swear it is. A bloke down the pub told me…
If you read the report of last seasons visit, you may remember we borrowed the Hubble Space Telescope to give us a better view of proceedings. No such luck this year. NASA refused point blank this time round. Apparently it was because we spilt beer on it last time. BAH! Bloody fussy space agencies. It was only a little bit. AND we cleaned it all up as well.
So after the rather selfishness of the USA’s national space agency, we’ve got to revert to plan B. Our eyes. Which means we’ll see as much of the game as if I’d stayed at home and sat on the roof of my house. Bloody marvellous.
Bob & I meet up in Croydon for an opening time bevvy. Chalmer has pissed off down to Cheltenham for the week. To get drunk (Horsch rasching? Who schaid anyfing aboutsh horsch rasching?? *hic*). Finished up, we head for the tram and our next destination, The Claret pub in Addiscombe. The idea being to drink lots of beer and see if the condition known as ‘beer goggles’ can be used in a footballing situation and not just for eyeing up ugly women in pubs.
We meet a few Palace fans we know and swop stories of disappointing footy and of course beer. Then, whether we like it or not, it’s time to head for the Arena.
We hit the ground in plenty of time and immediately head for the tea bar for dog-burgers to soak up the beer. 20 past 2 and we can hear the sizzling of the ground beef side-products cooking behind the shutters. At 10 to bleeding 3, we can still hear the sound of the ground beef side-products cooking behind the shutters. Where only Bob and I were stood waiting 30 minutes ago, a small crowd has now gathered.
A small hungry, angry crowd. This could turn nasty.
Finally the shutters go up and we pile in for our grub before the lynch mob can get stuck in and make good our escape. Then set off to try and find a ‘vanatge point’ to try and get some sort of view of the game. We’d have had more joy trying to track down a bloody Yeti…
The U’s line up is the same as the one defeated by Tooting in the county cup midweek. Lets hope they’re not so crap today eh?
The match gets underway and it’s very evident that neither side looks very good and it’s absolutely fucking freezing out here, thanks to the 300mph winds whipping across the mass open expanse of the ground. Christ, I bet there’s less wind chill out on the open plains of the Antartic than there is here.
Neither side creates a great deal, although the U’s do make some progress down the flanks only to see crosses carried off into Kent by the rather stong breeze. A couple of corners threaten before after half an hour, Sutton finally go ahead. A free-kick about 30 yards out is knocked into the box. The Croydon defence stands mesmerised by the round white thing bouncing in their 6 yard box and Eddie Akuamouah nips in to nod home from a couple of yards out. A Croydon defender then reacts and gives him a hefty whack in the back with his somewhat delayed attempt at a clearance.
Eddie goes down and stays down. A minute or so later, the stretcher is out and he’s on his way back to the dressing rooms. We consider summoning an Air Ambulance as by the time he reaches said dressing rooms, the poor bastard would probably have died from his injuries. Matt Fowler comes on to replace him.
30 seconds later and it’s 1-1.
Despite having had the best part of 5 minutes to get organised, our defence stands and watches as the kick-off is played out to the near side. The Croydon bloke runs downfield and crosses for McDonnell to poke past a bewildered Dunn. Not one Sutton player has got within 10 yards of the ball since it left the centre spot. Let alone put a poxy tackle in!
The goal boosts the home team’s confidence a bit and they put in a couple of attacks. One free-kick just 5 minutes later picks out a big defender totally unmarked at the back post. His downward header is blocked but runs to another Croydon man who somehow fails to beat Dunn from less than 5 yards out.
So, half time and we head towards the bar for some results and to get out of this bastard wind.
We eventually emerge just as the second half kicks off. Finally finding some shelter from the gale, huddled behind some wooden shed in parallel with the goal line.
The home team are the livlier of the 2 teams and have one effort cleared off the line and have another shot pushed onto the bar by Dunn before Sutton strike with their only real effort of the half and go ahead. On the hour, a ball over the Croydon defence has them all appealing for offside. The linesman ignores their protests and Rob Haworth latches onto the ball. With Fowler, Corbett and Wingfield all queueing up in the box, he squares it for Fowler to tap home from 6 yards out.
The home team step up their efforts to rescue the match, but besides one ‘goal’ chalked off for offside Dunn’s goal remains fairly unthreatened for the remainder of the half.
Then with under 5 minutes to go, the home side are reduced to 10 men. A wind assisted hoof is chased down by Haworth. The ‘keeper, under pressure and 5 yards outside his area, completely misjudges the flight of the ball. He instinctively reaches out and palms it away from the lurking Haworth. And despite the somewhat pointless protests of the Croydon players, the ref is left with little option but to produce a red card. The free-kick is deflected for a corner, from which Wingfield curls an effort under the bar for the replacement ‘keeper to deal with. Sadly he does, clawing it away to safety.
A minute or so later and the final whistle goes and we scurry back to the bar for some results before heading for the Tram and another pint in the Claret.
Supping whilst watching Arsenal-Newcastle on the telly, we decide that we’d prefer the miles away and publess Harrow to stay up instead of the 5 minute journey, expensive optician visit required afterwards Croydon to stay up. And Harrow’s shit as well.
C’mon you Boro!
MAN OF THE MATCH : The barman at the pub.
ENTERTAINMENT : 3. We….er….couldn’t see that much.
TEAM (at best guess!) : Dunn, Mison, Palmer, Gonsalves, Hammonds, Gray, Wingfield, Corbett, Honey, Akaumouah, Haworth. SUBS : Fowler.