“In all my 73 years, I’ve never been refused entry into a pub!” These were the words uttered by Indiana Jones’ father (aka Sean Connery’s stunt double) late on Saturday evening. And what a day that turned out to be, so why don’t we get started and begin were all our good tales usually kick off? And that is on a Friday night…
After much deliberating between members of the Firm on Friday night it was concluded that there was only going to be the three amigos (Me, Mr. X and the Welsh Wizard) making the trip to Havant in the morning so it was decided that the best plan was to meet at Clapham Junction for the 0927hrs and get our tickets from there. Waking up late in the morning was not on the time sheet and a frantic dash towards the train station was in order as I had to take a ton out on the way before I purchased my travelcard. The fact that I left my house at around 0815hrs and managed to get the 0832hrs train was a fine achievement even for a natural athlete like me and I settled down for the train journey up to Clapham, pondering what was in store for the Firm on that day.
|Dukey gets arty. Be afraid, be very afraid!
The train got me into Clapham at around 0855hrs so there was plenty of time to sneak out for a cheeky smoke as I waited for the others to arrive. The only snag was that I went out of the wrong exit and as I tried to get back in, the ticket machine just spat it back out at me and I had to seek assistance from the local ticket man. After much deliberation I was allowed back in and headed to the other exit where the Welsh Wizard was supposed to be. Once again I was refused entry by the ticket machine and once again had to negotiate entry with the ticket man. All we had to do was now wait for the final member of our triumvirate to arrive as he was coming in from Wimbledon.
It was on the platform that we began to see a plethora of other supporters all on their way towards the south west like us. The first set of supporters that we saw were Newport fans that were on the way towards Exeter. Then once we had got on packed train we realised that it was full of QPR fans who were making the trip to Yeovil. Fleetwood were due to be at Portsmouth as well and as one of us commented “It’s like a FA Cup day” as to some of the weird looking league games going on. Just check the results to find out what happened to them all, very interesting I might add.
The train journey involved us to change at Woking and picking up a few stragglers, at this point the decision had been made that instead of going to Havant for a little pre match libation, we were going to head to Mr. X’s old stomping manor of Portsmouth. And the station for that was Portsmouth & Southsea as that gave us the best option of some boozers close to a station. The time was 1104hrs as we arrived at our destination thirsty for a beer.
|Standard image used to establish location…..
As we walked past the council offices we were given all the local information by our tour guide Mr X with little titbit’s like where he had an argument with E17 ‘star’ Brian Harvey (he actually just shouted at him across the street to call him a twat) and the fire escape where he managed one of his many conquests from his uni days as well. Our first port of call was the “White Swan” that was actually a former Weatherspoons and it had a micro brewery next to the bar, the smell in here was something else I can tell you. The first pint I was going to have was a crisp Aspall’s as we settled down on some chairs to discuss our plan of attack for the day. With our time constraints it was decided that we would have a couple in the Swan, head off to the Spoons for a couple and a bite to eat. The possibility of drinking next door at the Fleet was down to what time train we were going to get. It was at the Spoons that we saw the small bunch of Fleetwood fans heading to Fratton Park, and it was where some of us ate a bit of lunch. Indiana Jones’ father had ordered fish & chips (As there was no flat breads on the menu) only to be told 10mins later by the staff “I’m sorry chicken, but we’ve run out of fish”. Now I know we were eating in a Spoons, but to run out of fish on a Saturday lunchtime in a town by the coast was a touch surprising.
The next stop was the Fleet pub which was showing the Villa Norwich game and this was were I managed to get a hold of another of my favoured tipples, Jeremiah Weed and we decided that we would try and catch the 1350hrs train back up to Havant, where luckily we managed to get a hold of a five seater taxi to take us all to the Westleigh pub next to the ground. Another quick couple of beers followed before we made our way to the turnstiles. The price for today’s game was going to be £13, but it does have to be said that you did get a free programme as well. The line for the game was going to be thus far:-
Lovelock, Nelson, Rents, Stuart, Clough, McDonald, Riviere, Dundas, Slabber, Haysman, Binns
Those warming the bench today were:- Fuseini, Telfer, Taylor, Sinclair, Scannell
|I don’t care. If your names not ‘Dan’, you’re not coming in….
After a slow start and seeing once again that the ref was beginning to give some funny decisions, we thought that this was going to be another one of those days. Some of those decisions were like how can Cloughie be forced to change his shirt and stick a couple of tampons up his nose because of a elbow for one of their fella, and then to see the same fella go in late again on Cloughie not long after and only getting a talking to. The next decision was possibly one of the most bizarre, after seeing Binns being scythed down on the penalty line for a blatant foul, a right wing cross in to the box at the other end saw it be caught stretching backwards by Lovelock who appeared, even from our spot at the far end, to let it slip into the net. To see the home end erupt in celebration was our signal for a goal, especially when the ref blew his whistle and pointed towards the centre circle. This was only half of it, as we then saw Lovelock drop the ball and kick it down field, much to the delight of the away support who of course jeered the locals for daring to think they’d scored a perfectly good goal, even though we were all still a bit confused by what decision the ref had actually given.
The first half happily also saw two goals to the good from Sutton the first came in the 32nd minute when after a mix up by the Havant defence, the ball fell to Slabber who was summarily tackled only for the ball to bounce to Kane & Able who just simply laced it with the outside of the boot and we watched it curl around the keeper into the back of the net. The second goal came in the 45th minute as the clock ticked away Dundo’s through ball to Slabs saw him spread the ball to Kane & Able who pegged the ball back only to watch as Slabbs missed the ball completely and then Rivs lose track of it as well. Then as the Big Mac tried to tuck it away, Rivs just poached it of him and the ball ends up in the net from a yard out. 2-0!
As we headed to the bar the talk turned to the decent possibility of Sutton actually getting something out of this game. The second half saw the U’s pile on the pressure and after seeing plenty off target shots from the likes of Slabbs and Big Mac we finally saw another piece of class as instead of letting the ball go out for a corner Big Mac keeps the ball on and sends in a cross only for it to be an inch high of Slabbs’ head and then bounce up before coming off Dundo’s bonce into the top corner, 3-0! With 70 minutes gone that finished off Havant and really opened the floodgates, because within the next several minutes it was Slabbs who was adding £100 to the Strikers are Key pot with a near identical brace. The first was after a bit of luck a deflected pass fell into his path and he calmly slotted the ball past the keeper. The second goal came about with a quality through ball from Rivs a couple of minutes later, finding once again Slabbs in space who put the ball past the keeper in the same place and before you knew it we were 5-0 up with still 10 to play! There were to be no more goals, but there was still time to see Cloughie pick up another yellow for the season’s collection as the ref had felt that he had made too many fouls through the game.
|Is that all you take away?
After the match we headed back to the bar to celebrate our emphatic away victory. Several pints later we said our goodbyes to those that were driving back towards home and ordered our cabs back to the station. It was at this point that in our high spirits that we would change from the chosen plan of heading back to Clapham as usual and instead try out a couple of the local villages that dotted our route back by train. The first stop off was the infamous village of Farmer Peter’s Field, where after being told by a Juan-esque type fella in his spandex how to get to a boozer, we followed his directions to the letter. At this point while me and Mr X were horsing around over a fag, Indiana Jones and his old man got in front of us as we neared a pub called the “Old Drum” but as they entered the establishment they were quickly escorted out with the remark “You are not welcome here!” being uttered by this camp waiter looking bloke. The thing is that neither any of the members of the Firm had fully entered the pub at this point, which makes it even funnier as someone like me going in and being refused service would be understandable!
So of instead of causing a ruckus we just headed towards another pub up the road called the “Square Brewery”. Here the reception was a bit frosty too, so we decided that as we were not welcome in this village we might have more luck in the next place up the line, which was called Haselmere. We looked at our phone apps that told us that the next train would be in around half an hour so we swiftly downed our drinks and headed to a local chippy so some of us could get some grub. As we had around 17mins till the train and the station was a good 5mins at the top of the road me and the Welsh Wizard decided to slowly walk up towards it. The problem was that the train arrived bang on time whilst the rest of group didn’t. Lucky for some an unidentified group of people were trying to delay the train for their friends and thanks to this Mr X managed to get on. Unfortunately Indiana Jones and his old man didn’t make it so at this point I feel I must refer back to the Firm motto:-
“Never leave a man behind, unless it is mutually inconvenient to the rest of the group”
It turns out that out here in the sticks it takes over 10mins to do something as simple as fry up a batch of chips and that is why it was a disaster to stop off at a chip shop in Petersfield. A quick phone call was made to those that had been
abandoned left behind to sort out that we would meet them at the next pub, which was to the “Inn on the Hill” at Haselmere and all was well again. And I can tell you it was a very poncy place indeed. So much so we had to sit outside like the commoners we are whilst we waited for the others to finally arrive. Once again we arranged to have another drink whilst we tried to sort out plans for yet more drinking.
It was back at Clapham some time later where we all finally said our goodbyes to some as the rest of us headed to the “Project Orange” bar for a nightcap, trying to work out how it was we’d won 5-0 at Havant and the fact that for once we’ve hit some form before the FA cup begins next Saturday with an earlier than expected visit to Whitehawk. Despite the nightcap, I somehow managed to get the last train back to Carshalton at half eleven without any further fuss and in turn got home at a more reasonable time than I’d managed the other week from the far nearer Tonbridge. Still that’ll do pig, that’ll do.