Harry’s Mules


Att: 439



So, this is it then. The biggie. A massive 6 pointer down in Dorset, that should we win, could go a long way towards us perhaps doing the previously unthinkable and maybe saving our worthless hides from the drop. Oh and there’s the piss up as well. Let’s not forget the piss up. And deep down we all know which of those is more likely to occur and I think you do too…

Late B&B bookings are made and it’s at the silly hour of half 8 that the Windy-mobile is outside ready to transport myself and Belly to sunny Weymouth where we can get nicely shitted before having to suffer 90 minutes of something that may or may not pass as a football match.

The trip is thoroughly uneventful and we meet up with PC & his missus at some services shortly after joining the M27. A quick chat and some large cups of tea are purchased and then it’s back on the road. With no delays to speak of, we soon find ourselves pulling up outside our digs for the weekend. And they’re quite posh! Well, for us at least.

Someone want to call Mrs C and check this is right? I mean, for starters, the little sign by the door states that this place is a four star! That can’t be right, surely? The closest we’ve ever got to staying somewhere with 4 stars was passing out pissed on a BP forecourt. But despite mine and Belly’s disbelief at the standard of our digs, Windy insists that the details are correct and this is indeed the place we’re staying at.

My word. We really are getting classy in our old age. Either that or it was seriously bloody cheap. Like really really cheap.

We’re further surprised not to find the owners bolting and barricading the door when we approach all wearing our football shirts and actually welcoming us inside. Just to be on the safe side, we keep ’em nice and sweet with some wonderfully polite Surrey small-talk (Yes, we can do that. We’ve not had a beer yet remember…) and cough up in advance for the rooms without complaint or profanity. When shown to the ginger suite, Belly is again slow off the mark and yours truly piles in sharpish to claim the nice big double bed all for myself.

Yes mate, that’s yours over there. The single one behind the wardrobe. Where you can’t see the telly. You’re welcome.

It’s a brief stopover though as we’re soon all footballed up and take a brisk stroll into town to start the customary days boozing that accompanies such seaside based soiree’s as well as watching Sutton United FC, this is kicked off nicely by rolling into the pub by the station and getting stuck right into it’s range of Badger beers.

Well, Belly and I do, PC and Windy drink shit lager. Tsk. Although, I’m not really one to talk as my pint of Dorset scrunge comes in a really quite poncy continental type glass. Oh dear.

On the telly, courtesy of Albania’s fine SS1 sports channel, we’re treated to the early afternoon kick off from St Andrews where the Gooners are fully expected to bounce back from the FA Cup gubbing by the Mancs by rolling over the rather poor Brummies. Thankfully, due to the provider the picture is a little fuzzy and it not being Sky with billions of gratuitous replays, we’re also not treated to numerous gory re-runs of Eduardo having his lower leg removed without anesthetic by a Brum defender. Instead, we’re left to guess at the extent of the injury by the horrified looks on the faces of the Gooners players.

We’re soon joined by a couple of lads, one of which it turns out is an Arsenal fan. From Woolwich. Which makes him the first REAL Arsenal fan I’ve ever met! It also turns out he and his mate are squaddies, serving with the Royal Marines. And the poor bastards are heading back out to somewhere hot, dusty and full of angry people toting RPG’s and AK47’s in the next month or two, which would probably explain the piss up they’re on today. Bizarrely, despite this, they’re rather more impressed by the fact that we watch shit football than you’d expect and want to buy US drinks! Strange really, as it should be us buying ’em for them.

Good luck lads. I certainly couldn’t do the job you do. Although with the season we’re having, I’m more likely to be persuaded than before.

Before long though, it’s hitting 2pm and time to head off to the ground. Fortunately, the station cab rank is nice and full of 7 seaters and we’re soon motoring along towards Dorchester and hopefully a couple of sneaky pre-match snifters in their tiny little cupboard bar tucked away in the bowels of the main stand.

At the ground, we find the team have arrived in the latest incarnation of the England coach, bearing the rather predictable number plate ‘FA07 ENG’. Hmmmmm, couldn’t that possibly have been spent better on the Wembley mortgage perhaps lads??

Team news is predictable, with Ernie largely sticking with the side that performed so well against Eastleigh last week. The only major change being Karim coming back into the defence in place of Scarborough. Paul Honey is also declared fit, but we keep faith with Jason Goodchild in the centre alongside Bash. A quick couple of drinks later and a brief re-acquaintance with the friendly locals to talk miserable football and it’s off out for the action. Or as close as we’ll probably get to ‘action’ anyway.

We end up shooting toward the covered end first half and as we approach, we spot that the local chavs haven’t moved. And to make matters worse, they’ve got a fucking drum. Twats. This will be a fucking riot and no mistake.

As if having this inane banging going on next to you isn’t distracting enough, the stewards are being less than helpful as well. Having waited until several minutes after we’d actually hung up the flag at the back of the terrace, they then inform us it’s got to come down as it’s covering an advertising board. Fucks sake, it’s only Tescos! The fuckers have a huge bloody store right next door. If there are genuinely people in here today unaware of the location of their nearest outlet, then they’ve got a Labrador and a white stick. A tad miffed at this, I get it back down and am almost done popping it over the perimeter wall to the pitch before matey wanders over and again tells me I’m covering up more of their precious advertising.

For fucks sake. Judging by the number of people in here today, I seriously doubt that the sponsors are actually in attendance anyway. So I less than politely enquire exactly where the fucking hell I CAN place this huge bit of material. He points at a safety barrier at the front of the terrace (about the only thing not covered in advertising boards) and wanders off. Like I said, twats.

So, eventually, after much pissing about, I can finally get round to watching the game. Which is a shame really, as of course we’re playing.

Whilst all this old bollocks is going on, the U’s have actually started the match in a bright fashion and have already carved out a decent chance after just 9 minutes. A free-kick from the right is whipped in by Greene and Ball gets in front of his man at the near post and guides a half volley a shade wide of the upright.  Steffan is in action again a few minutes later, this time getting up highest to another right sided free-kick and guiding a header narrowly over the bar.

Come on! Just stop pissing about and get a goal.

Another good chance comes our way after around 20 mins, this times some good build up sees Ottaway thread a nice ball in behind the centre backs for Greene to dart onto. But with only the ‘keeper to beat, his finish lacks composure and he pokes his effort from 10 yards straight at the custodian who makes a pretty standard block. This is getting annoying.

Having weathered this initial 20 minutes, the home side start to show signs of life as the no11 down our right starts to get some joy. Typically, his persistence gains the Magpies a rare corner and this is swung in to the far post and headed back across the box. A tall figure reacts first in the centre and guides a header onto the face of the bar and our defence finally reacts and hammers the danger clear.

A more evenly contested match ensues, but without ever really threatening to seriously burst into life. Although less than 10 minutes before the break, another set-piece from the right causes problems in the box and Harry hits a first time effort again narrowly wide of that far post.

Fortunately, half time isn’t far off and we finally get to move away from the infernal racket about 10 yards to our left. Although their enthusiasm had waned somewhat as the half wore on, especially after a chorus of ‘Full time and you fucked it up’ is aimed their way. Chin up lads.

Out in the open for the second half, I spend most of the break hoping it won’t rain. The last thing you need in a dour bottom of the table clash is to get pissing wet. A sudden onset of pnuemonia also tends to put a downer on all night drinking sessions I reckon.

As with the first 45 minutes, we’re off to a brisk start and with a couple of minutes elapsed, Steffan probably should put us in front. Greene continues a lively performance by tracking back and winning the ball in midfield. He turns and lays it straight up front for Dundas, who turns and runs at the defence on the right. He tries to cut inside a defender, only for him to get a foot on the ball. Fortunately, the deflection runs perfectly to the far side for a completely unmarked Steff. But with the angle narrowing and the ‘keeper struggling to find his feet, the new signing snatches at the chance and blazes high and wide of the target with his left foot.

Disappointing. Very disappointing indeed.

From here, we fail to really threaten the home goal a great deal more, whilst the hosts have slightly better of the play. Harry sticks in a couple of reasonable balls from the right, but the ‘keeper deals with them simply enough before Dorch have their best chance of the half so far after about 60 mins.

A quick break down the right by their pacy no11 ends with a good cross field ball picking out a runner in space on the far side. He brings the ball down smartly, but fails to test Davies, driving his low shot across the face of goal and comfortably wide. A minute later, our lack of attacking desire lets us down once again. Dundas persists in his normal way on the left, managing to bulldoze a path to the byeline. Here he pulls the ball back across that the ‘keeper should take easily, but fumbles it perfectly into space in the heart of the box.

Sadly, the yellow shirt we’d like to be waitingarriving to hungrily and gleefully punish such a glaring error is nowhere to be seen and the defence gratefully clear their lines. Er, any fucking danger lads??

Dorch continue to break briskly, but create little, while we toil away rather frustratingly, trying to fashion even the slightest of chances. Another example of our lack of awareness comes with 20 to play when Steff wins possession in the middle and feeds Dundas. He helps the ball on to Harry out on the right. The resulting cross finds Steff to win the flick on, but it comes to nothing as once more we lack any numbers committed forwards to supporting the attack and the defence see the ball out calmly for a goalkick beyond the far post. Our most nervy moment comes soon after, a long ball up to the edge of the box is nodded down and sits up just right for an attacker to the left of goal. But his effort lacks composure and the good position is wasted as he blazes well over the target.

The remaining 15 minutes are pretty dour to say the least. Ernie tries to inject some life by throwing on Honey, Liam Wirght and Scoobs, but despite forcing a few late corners, we never really look like snatching the points. If anything, the pacy Wright should probably have been introduced a good 10 minutes before he was to bolster the attack and force the issue a bit more.

Bored and a bit cold, after such an uninspiring 0-0, we wander back into the bar to find out the other results. Thankfully, most have gone our way and St Albans defeat means we actually move above them again and once more leave the bottom spot. Strangely, the locals seem relatively pleased with their point, whilst we’re pretty miffed at failing to take the opportunity of taking all 3. Horses for courses I suppose.

A few beers are sunk and thanks to the team departing quickly for a ‘bonding’ night out in Bournemouth, so are the two trays of sarnies intended for their consumption. Waste not want not as we always say! Besides, getting fed after watching that rubbish is the least we deserve. Eventually, we get the hint that it’s time to leave when some people start arriving to set up decorations and other bits & bobs for a birthday party in the bar, one we’re definitely not invited to. Oh well. Taxi!

Quick shower back at the B&B and then we hit subway for sustenance before deciding to wander down the road to find our local contact, Matty the Weymouth fan. Sadly, despite their home defeat to Histon today, they’ve avoided dropping into Conf National bottom 4, so a relegation zone party is a little pointless. But we set about swopping stories of our respective teams woes all while getting pretty smashed in a number of local hostelries.

In the end, the evening concludes in a rather classy local joint named ‘Harrys’ where huge bottles of some stuff manufactured by Smirnoff under the name ‘Mule’ are necked in dubious quantities. Through the haze, I and Windy discuss the aforementioned beverage, agreeing that we thought it had stopped being made some time in the mid 90’s. Or something. World changing stuff, I think you’ll agree. Saying our goodbyes to Matty sometime after 3am, we stagger out into the cold night air for the now traditional stroll along the beach back to the B&B to fully concludes the festivities. Thankfully no one fancies going for a dip, so at least the local RNLI get a night off.

Christ my head will hurt in the morning. Although, with any luck, tonight will have wiped a bit more of this season from my already addled memory. Now that really would be a result.

MoM : Bashiru Alimi. Absolutely everywhere. Captains example personified.

TEAM : Davies, Sammut, Bray, El-Salahi, T.Hughes, Alimi, Goodchild, Ball, Dundas, Ottaway, Greene  SUBS : Scarborough, Wilson, Wright, Hughes, Honey

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