REDBRIDGE – 0
SUTTON UNITED – 5 [Gonsalves 23. OG 27. Corbett 64. OG 66. Gray p83.]
With the Christmas festivities having passed and the Bobbins relieved of 6 points, it’s back to the more run of the mill Conference South fixtures for the U’s with a trip out to Ford….erm, I mean Redbridge. After the joy & excitement of back to back derby wins, this hardly raises the pulse!
But, then again, to be fair to the little team from Barkingside, our encounters are rarely dull, with the fixture yet to produce a scoreline involving less than 5 goals. Still, this game provides an excellent chance to pick up another 3 points and keep out recovery on track. Redbridge recently slashed their budget, rumoured to be around the £900pw mark. They struggled on and picked up some decent results before form started to fade again. Then, manager Craig Edwards upped & left for the vacant position at Chelmsford, taking several of his team with him. So chances are, we could be facing a severely weakened opposition today.
Anyway, just what is it with these bloody Essex teams and changing their names? Why can’t they just pick one and fucking stick with it. Makes things very confusing for drink addled fools like us.
For once, we’re pretty well organised and a 12 meet in Liverpool Street is organised. I wander up the road to C*shalton station and junp on the choo choo, finding Belly, Oscar & Windy already present. Greek joins us a stop further down.
Winding our way through London, it’s pretty busy, with what seems like millions of Brighton fans present. Obviously all heading to Tottenham via Liverpool Street I see.
Amusingly, one Seagulls fan has his shirt bearing the name ‘Pitcher’ and the number 7. Haha! Surely that’s not Geoff “ex-K’s” Pitcher? Our uncertainty persuades us not to break into a chorus of “Fuck off Pitcher!”. That and we’re no doubt subconsciously aware that with what seems like most of the population of Brighton milling around, a damn good kicking would probably follow if we did.
Arriving at Liverpool Street, we of course head for the Hamilton Hall. We find it’s pretty packed out, more so than normal, as the invading Tottenham bound Brighton hordes have their number swelled with a very large group of Norwich fans, who are themselves heading out to West Ham. Great, it’s 12 now, so we should get served our first pint sometime around 1pm!
Beers are supplied quicker than expected and we plonk ourselves in a bit of space by the entrance. No sooner have jackets been removed revealing our colours than we can feel dozens of pairs of eyes turn our way.
From this, we guess the assembled hordes are starting to play the “What the fuck is that shirt?” game.
The assumption is correct and within a few minutes, several puzzled Canaries & Seagulls have already asked who we are. Once they know, at least half amusingly enquire “who’ve you got in the cup then??”. At which we laugh politely and inform them we sort of went out in October. Sorry!
Strange. These guys just instantly assumed renowned ‘giantkillers’ like us would be involved in today’s ties because of one game, some 16 years ago. Most seem genuinely surprised when we tell them we’ve not made it as far as the 3rd round for 11 years.
Amazing how peoples memories help them perceive stuff! If it was us, we’d blame the beer. But then again, we blame that for most things.
The conversations usually then follow this general pattern.
“So where are you playing today then?”
“What, Dagenham & Redbridge??”
A lengthy explanation of Ford changing their name etc etc etc follows.
Still, the attention is nice and we get stuck into the bevvies in between fielding continuous “What shirt is that??” questions from nearly every person coming through the door. Eventually Chalmers appears after a mornings work just around 1, so we sent him to the bar.
Now, what do you get if you put 500 football fans into a pub with lots of beer?
Singing of course!
After a good hour and half’s drinking, we hear a tune break out from the far side of the boozer to our right. It’s the Brighton lot. The chant of “Seagulls, Seagulls” quickly grows into a crescendo, with the Hamilton Hall’s high ceilings impressively amplifying the sound.
Not to be outdone, the Norwich fans stop chewing their bits of straw and retaliate with their signature tune “On the ball City”, which again sounds simply superb echoing around the cavernous pub. Stung by this, the south coast lot break into “Sussex-by-the-Sea”.
All the while, we’re just stood watching & listening as the noise bounces around. The atmosphere is superb.
We start discussing whether we should join in with a ditty of our own, just for a laugh. As we’re trying to decide whether to bother waiting for Chalmers to return from the bar, a group of mean, nasty ol’ Brighton fans we’ve been chatting to make the decision for us by starting a chant of “Sutton Sutton give us a song”.
With us having been in here a fair while now, quite a few people are aware of our presence. And before we know it, both Brighton and Norwich fans have picked up the chant. Oh shit, we’re in trouble now.
With pride at stake and taking into consideration that the acoustics in here are pretty damned fine, the five of us give it a go, belting out the only decent terrace ‘song’ we have.
It must’ve sounded good though, as at the end, a get a big cheer & a round of applause from the rest of the pub. Cheeky bastard that he is, Oscar takes a bow.
A minute or so later, Chalmers returns from the bar grinning. “Wankers!” is all he has to say.
A couple more beers later and it’s finally time to leave the heady atmosphere of the Hamilton and get on the central line to Barkingside. But not wishing to appear rude to the our fellow choiristers and just leave, we head off with a chorus of “Cheerio, cheerio”, waving as we go.
Amazingly, a few wave even back. What nice people.
A quick stop at the wonderfully well placed pastie shop outside the pub doors and we head downstairs for the tube. Half an hour later, we’re making the 60 second walk from Barkingside station overlooking the ground. We stroll into the bar and discover that kick off will be slightly delayed as our lot have only just arrived.
Not again!! What was the problem this time? Apparently some crappy traffic on the way here and a mad old biddy trying a kamikazi attack on the team coach just up the road.
Well, at least it’s original.
Right, who’s for a drink?
Much to the disgust of the lone barmaid, we keep her very busy with several quickfire rounds in the 45 minutes before KO. It’s not so much the volume of the work, more the fact a lot of us have chosen to neck large amounts of Southern Comfort, which it seems she has something of an aversion to!
Plenty of liquid insulation later, it’s finally time to pop back outside into the cold for the game.
JR has made only one change today, leaving out Vansittart in favour of Fear. Eddie moves up front to accommodate the returning midfielder. Joff drops to the bench.
A quiet start is only interrupted by a good run down the left from Brake, who sees his curling, wind assisted cross slip just wide of the far post. It’s not until the 16th minute that anything else really worth noting occurs. Fearo plays in a free-kick from the right. It’s cleared, but comes straight back to the U’s captain. Taking his second chance, he again delivers the ball into the box, this time picking out Kevin Hemsley in the centre. His firm header is a good one, but the portly ‘keeper dives to the right and makes a very very good stop.
You still owe us one after NYD Mr Hemsley!
The next serious U’s attempt on goal on 23 minutes is more successful. This time Matt Grays corner from the left finds a rather slackly marked Lewis Gonsalves popping up at the back post to nod his third goal of the season. Ironically for a guy who’s not the tallest in the side, all have been headers.
Things get worse for the home side 4 minutes later when Gray darts down the right onto a Peter Fear pass. His cross into the box finds it’s way to the Redbridge no4, who in an attempt to clear the ball, only succeeds in prodding is past his wrongfooted ‘keeper from a couple of yards out.
A few minutes further down the line and a rather bizarre incident interrupts the game. Gray is lining up to take another corner out on the left, when he’s grabbed by the collar from behind by some mentalist old bloke. Fellow home fans and a couple of U’s supporters come to the slightly surprised midfielder’s aid. It seems the old boy was unhappy with Matt’s positioning of the ball in the corner quadrant and decided to ‘catch his attention’ to tell him so.
Tsk tsk. That Matt Gray, he’s such a cheat!
Even more bizarrely the culprit is not only allowed to remain in the ground, but stay exactly where he was. Christ, I know they don’t get many watching ‘em, but come on!
Naturally, following this strange event, the rest of the half is pretty dull. The only other thing that stirs any kind of emotion is Fearo copping the ball in a very tender area from close range. Our response is one of amusement and sympathy as those among us who’ve played at any kind of level will know that sort of thing really really fucking hurts.
Still, it doesn’t stop us taking the piss out of our stricken man. Sorry Peter! As he’s helped to the sidelines by Sarah the physio, she appears to be finding it mildly amusing as well. Come now madam, can’t you see the poor chap is in severe discomfort? Very unprofessional of you.
And besides, taking the piss is our job.
With the weather a bit on the chilly side, we head inside for a quick medicinal snifter or two to warm the blood. I’m rather pleased to find via the magic of SKY tv that Oldham are currently leading Man City at home in the cup. Lovely! Now, how are that lot down the road from us getting on?
Oh, they’re losing as well? Shame.
The second half starts with the lads playing against a rather stiff breeze and naturally, the home side threaten first, with Wilson forced to turn a low drive from range around his post for a corner. But after this, the weather seems to get the better of both sides, with little in the way of decent passages of play forming anywhere on the pitch.
Fear goes close just before the hour, curling a free kick from a central position just wide of the left hand upright. Our hosts respond with a decent attack down our left. The cross though is wasted, being headed well wide at the near post.
3 minutes later and the game is made safe. Brake is set on his way down the left before swinging a cross in. It picks out the no8 at the far post, who undoubtedly in his mind envisioned himself cleanly hooking the ball 40 yards to safety. Sadly for him, the reality is much worse. Shanking his clearance the opposite way, the ball bobbles across goal and nestles in the far corner.
Erm, well, what can we say mate? Except “Thank you” that is.
For good measure, Sutton make it 4-0 on 66 minutes. The play again is spread to the left and Nigel Brake, seemingly a lot more confident after his hilariously funny 40 yarder last Saturday, whips in a great cross at pace which is met by Scott Corbett’s darting run in the centre, glancing a header into the far corner.
With the game dead, things slow down somewhat and there’s really little excitement to speak of. Instead we amuse ourselves with the usual personal abuse and threats of violence against each other.
As we enter the last 10 minutes a moment of interest appears. Gray, having pushed up front after Booth has come on down the right, receives a pass in the centre and carries it upfield before sliding it into the left hand channel and behind the defence for the run of Brake. Sadly, he doesn’t get the chance to try & notch his second goal for the club as he’s rather clumsily felled and the ref is left with little option but to point to the spot.
Gray completes an eventful afternoon by burying the spot kick into the bottom left hand corner to make it 5-0 and then collapsing in pain, having seemingly aggravated a knock he’d received a few minutes before.
Sure, it’s an original and interesting celebration Matthew, but one that needs some work I feel,
We see out the remaining minutes without problem and finally get to head for the warmth of the bar and another of those medicinal beverages we had at half-time. Pleasingly, I find Oldham have held out to defeat Man City. Also on the losing side are our dear neighbours, defeated 1-0 at home by Weymouth with a goal from Bradley “On loan at Sutton earlier this season from Peterborough” Thomas. Which naturally we have a good chuckle about.
A couple of quick rounds in the bar later and we decide to head back into Liverpool Street for a couple at the Hamilton. Sadly, upon arrival, we find the place closed. No doubt on ‘police advice’.
Right, back to the Hood it is then!
A quick stop off in Victoria, then on the train back to Sutton for an evening of talking shite in our favourite local hostelry.
Hey, anyone worked out how many points ahead of the Bobbins we are yet?
MAN OF THE MATCH :
ENTERTAINMENT : 7. The 2 OG’s were funny!
TEAM : Wilson, Gray, Scarborough, Hemsley, Gonsalves, Honey, Corbett, Fear, Brake, Akuamouah, Watkins SUBS : Vansittart, C.Nurse, Booth
THE REFEREE’S A………