A New Era Dawns……D’Oh!

CONFERENCE SOUTH

18th MARCH 2006  Att : 409



HISTON- 3   [Bloke. Geezer. Fella]

SUTTON UNITED – 0

Without an away win since the end of August, we’d normally recieve a fairly long trip as the one to Histon with resignation of another pretty straightforward defeat during which the home ‘keeper has to take half a pack of pro-plus such is the number of times we manage to trouble him.

But, this week, we actually have a reason to look forward to an away game other than for the piss up.

After the trust meeting on Thursday, our esteemed chairman had introduced to the gathered ‘masses’ Sutton United’s new management team. Ian Hazel and Paul Harford were the men chosen to replace the Rains brothers at Gander Green Lane.

Harford really didn’t need much introduction having been a member of the U’s Isthmian League championship winning side back in 1998/99. Mr Hazel, on the other hand does require some introduction!

An ex-Wimbledon player, he’d dropped into non-league in the last few years, appearing for a couple of local sides (including one appearance for Sutton in a 1-0 defeat away to Marlow!) before getting into coaching with Tooting. Next he had a fairly respectable period in charge at Molesey before moving on to Walton & Hersham.

There, having guided the side to a 17 match unbeaten run, he was somewhat harshly shown the door when a new chairman stepped in and decided he’d give the job to one of his mates instead. Understandably a bit miffed at this, Ian went back into coaching with the Fulham academy where he had remained ever since.

Naturally, with the unwritten rule that sides getting themselves a new manager usually managing to pull a result out of the bag in their first game in charge, we get up early on the saturday actually looking foward to a game for the first time in ages.

I meet DS and Chris at Sutton and we obtain tickets, before meeting Mr & Mrs Greek (slightly hungover from the night before!) and Mr & Mrs C further down the line. Sadly, Windy is forced to miss his first game in bloody ages, as he’s spent the last 48 hours being violently ill.

Still, undeterred by a regulars absence, we head for Kings Cross and the ‘Cambridge Cruiser’ to our destination. Sadly, Cambridge is as far as the choo choo can take us, as Histon no longer has a station. A result of that nasty Dr Beeching’s cuts no doubt.

Ho hum, I guess we’ll just have to make do with the dozens of cracking pubs in Cambridge and get slightly refreshed there beforehand instead!

As per usual, a longish train journey means that the inebriation begins with some of Greek’s now legendary Vodka Jelly. Although this is balanced out somewhat by some rather nice choccy cake supplied by Mrs C for the fat blokes birthday today. Mmmmmm…..

This helps pass the time and before we know it, we’re getting ready to alight at our destination.

Feeling a bit lazy, we jump on a local bus and head into the town centre before locating the first pub of the day, the grandly named ‘Champion of the Thames’, with the assistance of another U’s beerhound. Here, we’re joined shortly after arrival by another U’s fan and her other half, a Cambridge City fan.

One of the drunken, chairman abusing, pitch invading lot from their visit to GGL a couple of weeks back no less!

Next stop is the St Radegund, a brilliantly character filled boozer. It’s rugby loving guv’nor may refer to our sport as ‘soccer’ but we can’t really fault him on his drinking up policy. The pub has 3 rules at kicking out time. Either you drink it, the guv’nor drinks it, or you ‘sign’ for it.

Signing for it entails surrendering your beer and scribbling your signature on a slip of paper bearing the text “Terry’s beer was too strong for me. Signed :” and this slip of paper being pinned to a board  above the low bar.

And the board is pretty full.

Another corking local fact we discover is the ‘King Street Run’, where you have to neck a pint in each of the pubs along Kings Street in as quick a tme as possible. There’s 6 boozers. And the record is apparently 14 minutes!!! Hmmm, if he could be arsed to actually run between boozers, I reckon Greek could trouble that record!! Although I think it’s the presence of his missus on this trip that prevents him from having a crack at it right now!

Right, next pub……

Here we park for a couple of pints and some of the Everton-Villa game on the telly, but before long, time catches up and transportation has to be arranged to Histon.

Thankfully, that’s where our local connection Chris comes in handy!

As the cabs are pulling up outside, Chris & Greek set about claiming as much of the St Paddy’s day gear currently being removed from the wall by one of the barmaids. Greek ends up with a large flag and 2 inflatable guinness glasses and Chris winds up with a huge 12 foot banner.

What is it about us and promotional banners in Cambridge pubs???

Soon we’re in the Railway Vue in Histon and enjoying a final couple of pre-match beverages before heading off to the ground to witness the start of our new era…

Mr Hazel has unsurprisingly elected to shake things up team-wise. He’s switched to a 4-4-2 formation and given starts to Richard Blackwell and Michael Gordon. Gordon goes wide right, with Gray moving up front with Cornwall. Embo keeps his spot in goal and Watson drops to the bench.

Despite the shake up, the U’s take a while to find their feet in blustery conditions and the home side look to take advantage. Just 5 minutes in, a foray down our right resuts in a pass infield and a red shirted attacker tries his luck with a cheeky lob from 20 yards, which drops just wide of Emberson’s far post. 4 minutes later, another move down our right again comes infield and Embo has to be alert to beat out the first time effort.

The home side are again on the offensive shortly after and once more, find the Sutton right flank the weak spot. Once more, we back off, reluctant to put in a challenge and the cross is delivered into the box, which Gonsalves heads away for a corner with opponents lurking behind him.

Our first real threat on the Histon goal finally materialises on 14 minutes. Gray latches onto a pass down the right and gets to the byeline pulling a ball back across the box. But sadly, there’s no team mate close enough to take advantage.

That weakness down our right that Histon have been exploiting quite a bit finally pays dividends for them after 17 minutes. A run and cross from the right isn’t dealt with and finds it’s way to the far post where an attacker stubs his effort into the ground and it loops over a stranded Emberson and into the far corner.

Toss. That era we were talking about earlier? Looks like there could be a bit of the old stuff to clear out before we get any of that newer model in……

The remainder of the half is a pretty quiet affair, with Sutton really failing to get going at all. And it’s not until the 37th minute that any other real sight of goal comes our way. A short free-kick on the right results in a cross into the box. It’s clumsily dealt with and falls loose a few yards out from goal, but before Cornwall can turn it on goal, the Histon ‘keeper is able to smother the ball.

Half time and I really can’t be arsed to head for the bar, having been advised it’s a bit on the small side. Instead, I wander round to the far end for flag hanging and await the start of the next enthralling 45 minutes in our season.

The sides emerge for the restart and an amazing thing has happened. We’ve made a sub!! At HALF TIME!!! The 2 H’s have withdrawn Boosey in favour of Watson, probably to try & give us a bit more presence up front.  Well, I never said it was a great sub.

The change fails to make any significant difference at the start of the second half and our job is made even harder 11 minutes in.

A poor header back towards our own goal is poorly cleared and it’s naturally put straight back into a dangerous area by the home side. Eventually the cross comes in from the left, is nodded back across goal from the opposite post and is tucked away from close range in the centre.

Oh dear. One feels, what with our somewhat dreadful run and our almost utter inability to recover from being behind in games, that we are now somewhat fucked.

Still, the bench reacts positively and introduces another sub to at least see if we can try to salvage something. Which makes a nice change to the “Well, we’re 2 down, so what will a sub achieve?” approach of the past.  About now, we notice someone is missing from the party.

Where is that pesky Cambridge fan Chris?? I bet he’s still in the bar! What’s that? He’s not? Oh, ok, the toilet then! No?? Whats that?? Been ejected you say??? For abusing a Histon player??

Er, ok.

A quick phone call reveals his new position for viewing the match, perched up on a crash barrier at the side of the bypass that runs up along the side of the ground and arcs around the far end. It seems the thing he’s most upset about is that he hadn’t been able to take his half-time drink with him when he departed.

It turns out that he’d been removed on the say so of one of the Histon players after he’d had a pop at their no3. Which when you consider Mr3 revealed a t-shirt saying ‘RIP CCFC’ under a picture of a tombstone at the Xmas derby between the two sides, you can probably gather he’s about as high up that Cambridge City Xmas card list as their own chairman.

What makes this ridiculous is that 2 stewards were stood yards away enjoying their free cuppa and burger at this time and did……fuck all.

Naturally, for this half, because of the ejection from amongst our number we’ve now got 2 yellow jacketed persons in very close proximity and they’re very soon getting arsey with some more general football verbiage being dished pitch-wards. Thankfully a word from our own chief steward stood nearby indicating they’re actually causing problems rather than stopping any seems to nip it in the bud and they largely leave us be.

This little episode seems to distract nicely from the game for a few minutes and we return to reality shortly before another sight of goal for the visitors. 66 minutes played and a ball down the left is knocked infield first time where Cornwall tries his luck with a hooked shot, but it’s never really in danger of troubling Key in the home goal.

The rest of the second half is pretty much a non-event. Sutton rarely, if at all, look like getting back into the game and Histon look even less likely to make the complete mess of it that would allow such an event to occur. Still, it’s no less frustrating when with 6 minutes to play, Histon round off a very comfortable result.

The midfield and then defence fail to close down or make a challenge on the left and it just invites the shot. Emberson does well to react to the effort, but he can only push it into the ground and is unable to recover in time to prevent it being nodded into the unguarded net from close range, despite the ‘attentions’ of a defender.

Can we go back to the pub now please??

Soon after, we get our wish and head back to the Railway Vue with a quick phone call summoning Chris from his vantage point up on the bypass. No one’s really that shocked at the result, but probably more a tadge disappointed at the response from the side. Still, at least the new boss shook things up a bit and well, that substitutes thing is going to take some getting used to!

Greek at least is looking forward to seeing Tottenham live on the telly against the Brummies. Sadly, the boozer has the 6 nations on and he’s forced to wait until we can head off to find somewhere else that isn’t in an egg chasing frenzy.

After a pint, it’s decided to head back into town to see if we can find the Tottenham-pining Greek his game on the telly and some munch somewhere. Once again, our local cab booking service swings into action. After lengthy bartering with a couple of firms, he seals a competitive deal with an interested contractor and it’s back into Cambridge we go.

Our large several seated taxi is very nice and even has the luxury of satellite navigation. With an annoying woman’s voice giving every instruction.

Naturally, this takes about 30 seconds to thoroughly annoy all present and some unsubtle comments along the lines of “That’d drive me fucking potty that would!” sees the cabbie wisely turn off his digital female A-Z.

The pub back in town proves to be completely rammed and also showing rugby. So we head off in search of cash and a pub doing at the very least grub. Sadly, we fail on all counts and end up diving into another 6 nations showing hostelry just to get a beer. Parked round the corner out of the way, we have a couple of pints and discuss where next. With food the overriding concern, we decide to head back towards the station for a train and forage for food on the way.

So, it’s on Cambridge High Street we bid farewell to our Cambridge supporting, cabbie bartering, full back abusing friend Chris and his other half. He bades farewell too until the hat of a passing local parking warden takes his fancy and his wholehearted attention understandably switches to trying to relieve the gentleman of his headgear.

In the end, we for some reason end up failing to obtain food on the way and end up diving into the very pricey Marks & Sparks at the station. Well, some of us do. Two others fail to get the message and jump on the awaiting train back to Kings Cross.

Oooops!

Oh well, like I care. I’ve got pork pies……num num num!

Eventually, the next train departs and we pile on for the trip back into London. It’s largely uneventful apart from an encounter with a clearly pissed fat bloke from further down the carriage.”Are any of you people into Chemistry??” he enquires??

“Errr, nope, sorry. We’re just drunk mate”

“Oh damn, I was hoping if one of you could confirm if the chemical symbol for salt was NcAl or NcAl2. Oh well, never mind.”

And with that, he ambles off further down the carriage to ask some other no doubt completely clueless unsuspecting members of the public if they know what the chemical symbol for salt is.

Before long, we’re pulling into Kings Cross and DS, one of the ‘splitters’ from earlier on calls. It seems their train has taken an age to reach it’s destination and despite leaving a good half hour ahead of us, have only just got to the Thameslink station over the road. And there’s a train in a few mins.

Come on, Hood before closing! Chaaaaaaarge!

We make the choo-choo and pass the time back to Sutton with a deep & intellectual conversation on sweeties. This leads to a brainstorm from Greek as to how he can improve on his already famous vodka jelly.

“Awwwwww, floaters!”

Well, at least Newport should be interesting.

Oh and the chemical symbol of salt?? ‘NcAl’ of course! Silly man….

MAN OF THE MATCH : Richard Blackwell. Again, didn’t really let us down on another rare start…..

ENTERTAINMENT : 4. Another away, another defeat & another 90 mins without a single shot

TEAM : Emberson, Scarborough, Blackwell, Gonsalves, Palmer, Boosey, Gray, Akuamouah, Gordon, Cornwall,  SUBS : Wilson, Watson, Rivers, Adams

THE REFEREE’S………rubbish. Seemed to forget that he could award free-kicks BOTH ways, although he can’t really be blamed for the defeat. We can handle that perfectly well on our own thank you very much!

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