So, here we are boys & girls, another ‘exciting’ pre-season campaign comes to a close and we’re now just a mere seven days away from the start of the season itself. What’s that? “Thank fuck”? Yes, quite. There’s only so many half arsed walks in baking sunshine even the saddest and most dedicated Non-League saddo can take. Even Dukey couldn’t quite last the course this summer and he’s buggered off to Prague to see Slavia play instead of helping us greet Delia Smith’s kindergarten from Carrow Road.
And speaking of baking sunshine, thank Jebus someone had a word about giving that nonsense a rest for a while and having some good old British summertime rain delivered instead. It was a relief I can tell you. I really can’t see how people who live in hot countries put up with this sunny blue skies bollocks day in day out. What are you people, fucking lizards? I for one am not entirely comfortable in such conditions what with being a ginger British man and whilst I’ll happily admit I don’t mind a few nice days here and there to break up the grey skies and rain we usually get, it was starting to get a bit tiresome. If trying to get some kip whilst sweating like Jimmy Saville on a kids hospital ward wasn’t bad enough, I’ve probably spent more on factor 50 in the last six weeks than I have on the mortgage for Gandermonium HQ. That and Totts won’t stop banging on about the fucking ‘Summer of 76’, standpipes and ‘bathing with a friend’. It’s been bloody torture all round and no mistake.
|Getting ready to go….|
The sunny weather wasn’t the only thing proving potentially harmful round here either. Our pre-season has once more produced a workplace injuries list which would make a Victorian Cotton Mill owner wince and caused us to appear on those “Top 10 Dangerous Occupations” click bait lists you see all the time on Facebook, with ‘Playing for Sutton United’ sandwiched between ‘Alligator Wrestler’ and ‘Illegal diamond miner in the DR Congo’. This lead Dos to make the call to bin off Wednesday’s jaunt down to Winchester on Monday evening just to be on the safe side. Firstly as no one would really have fancied going all that way to watch a 5-a-side game and more importantly, with the H&S mob sniffing round GGL recently and seemingly declaring anything your average football fan might lean on to watch a game as potentially deadly, the last thing we need is ’em poking their bloody hooters into our training regime as well.
Still, the cancellation gave not only the boys a much needed breather with the season just around the corner, but us here at your favourite Non-League blog too. Well, mainly Dukey actually, as he was down to do the Winchester blog despite buggering off on his Prague jaunt the very next afternoon. Would we have graciously come to our compadres aid and offered to do it instead or at the very least extended his deadline had the game gone ahead I hear you ask? Like fuck would we. He’s mainly responsible for bringing this shit back after all, so he can live with the consequences of his actions. How else will he learn?
Annoyingly, some git has decided that this particular jog in the sun should kick off at 12 noon despite the World Cup having ended ages ago and England having surprisingly departed said comp only marginally before that. It turns out the visitors have specifically requested the early start, which is just bollocks really. What about my Saturday lie in eh Delia? Sort your shit out love, some of us like to catch a few extra Z’s on a home game weekend thank you very much! So, instead of stinking in my pit until well gone 11 and making a late dash for some crap pre-season snooze-a-thon at GGL, I’m actually having to get my arse out of bed by half 9 for this one like it actually means something. It’s just yet another reason for us proper football fanssad fuckers (delete as appropriate) to hate pre-season if you ask me. Still, at least the Saharan climate of the last couple of months has largely done one today, sure it’s still nice and sunny out, but we have something we’ve not been acquainted with for quite some some time other than rain. Something our less sweaty selves called ‘a breeze’ back in the day. And by ‘back in the day’, I mean ‘April’. So, with a ‘breeze’ on my back akin to the sort that removes slums from hillsides in the Caribbean, I stroll off down Croydon Road and into the occupied territories.
You see, this is another consequence of the stupidly early start. I’ve pissed about too long getting ready and I’ve missed my bus. And with kick off approaching I’m instead having to aim for a train into the Republic to ensure I’m there for the full 90 minutes of pointless bollocks. I know I know. I’m only doing it so you lot get the full Gandermonium experience that you’ve come to know and love, you can thank me later. So with no 407 to whisk me Suttonwards, my trip now sadly entails sneaking over the border and having to avoid the lurking agents of darkness who would baulk at a agent of PRoWS truth and liberty like me swanning about the gaff being all truthy and liberty-ous. So I keep my head down and with the minimum of fuss, I make it to Carshalton station unmolested. Soon, I’m back in the lands of the free and heading for Greggs to obtain the usual munch for the walk into the Republic. Having left it late I decide to head up the drive and straight into the ground on arrival, so there’ll be no pre-match pint for Mr Tardy Pants Taz today. With that satisfying clunk of the turnstiles, the full impact of the daft KO time is revealed by the fact there’s no fucker here. No one. Well, except me that is. Seriously though, if there was more that 50 in the ground 15 mins before KO, I’ll be amazed. Seems the fact that Norwich having a friendly over at Charlton kicking off at three has had something of an impact on attendance. Can’t think why. I bet Delia’s not even here either, the miserable cow.
Charlie Burns, Bennett, Thomas, Beckwith, Collins, Bolawinra, Davis, Eastmond, Beautyman, Wright, Taylor. SUBS: Lafayette, Ayunga, Cadogan, Dundas, Bailey, Wishart, Downer, Aaron Drinan.
|Thank god that’s over.|
Unsurprisingly given that we tossed off Wednesday’s game down in Winchester due to more walking wounded than the 6th Army leaving Stalingrad, the starting line up for this brunch kick off is a little unusual with some geezer I don’t know in goal instead of Butler and starts for the likes of Davis & Taylor who’ve had little involvement so far this pre-season, amongst others. Still, at least it gets ’em game time with the big stuff just around the corner. Having camped on the Shoebox to start with and spent the pre-amble nattering with the Budd clan, a few of us head off down to the Rec End for the traditional first half duties, most would wonder why we bothered but with us unlikely to see any football from this end this season due to segregating pretty much everyone that visits nowadays, we’ll take what we can get. Our unusual line up has an early effect with Burns being called into an early save with his legs when a quick break puts the Norwich 9 in behind our defence. Good lad, there’s nowt worse than conceding before you’ve even reached your match vantage point.
From here, it’s mainly typical pre-season fare. Bit of decent stuff mostly interrupting misplaced passes and other rubbish that makes you yawn a lot and talk about any old shit to the people nearest to you. However, after that early scare we’re mostly the better side and after a couple of promising moves that come to little we go an liven this shizzle up by taking the lead. Tommy gets barged about 20 out from goal and with the Norwich kids complaining and claiming they never touched his dinner money, we take a quick free kick which puts Taylor in behind from the left from where his low shot goes under the keeper and finds the far corner. 1-0! Excitement ensues! Sadly, this is about as good as it gets. Beautyman spurns two good chances after some good build up play and Burns makes another decent stop after Davis gives the ball away 20 yards out allowing their geezer a free run in. Apart from this, the main points are Bob & Cathy having returned from a few days away in York, which they’ll be following up with a couple of days away in YorkHarrogate this weekend and GreekNat strolling in well late as they and I quote “Couldn’t be arsed”. Naturally, no one argues. Legit excuse that.
At the break, we head for the bar to enjoy refreshments and the fact we’re three quarters of an hour away from the end of all this pretend shit and back into the proper stuff. In the bar itself, the attention turns once more to the mysterious Irn Bru Cup we’ve been invited to play in. It seems we’re the only ones who sort of know how it’s all supposed to pan out, so we hold a small audience in raptures as we explain just how the fuck it all works when we enter in the 2nd round. Don’t worry, I’ll not bore you with the details here, mainly as I can’t be fucked to type it all out. You’re welcome.
Back outside for the second half, I catch up with Ipswich Lee who, somewhat predictably, has only really wandered down to hopefully see the old enemy’s kids get a turning over, which is the sort of small mindedness we can get on board with. We then adjourn to the Shoebox for not that much really. On the pitch it turns out that the mysterious Drinan who has replaced Tommy at the break is an Irish lad, ironically, currently at Ipswich. Dunno if it’s a loaner or not, but he’s a big unit, shows some nice touches and looks like he could be useful. So that probably means we’ll never ever see the geezer again. Elsewhere, Nat takes a somewhat concerning shine to Dr Bell’s crutches and starts hobbling about on them. And yes, we said CRUTCHES you bunch of wrong’uns. Fucks sake, give us some credit will you? Still, it’s the most excitement that old bastard’s had since he had control of his own morphine drip post surgery a couple of weeks back, so who are we to judge?
The football? Oh yeah, that. We don’t really look like adding to the tally and Burns makes another decent save to keep us in front. But the main entertainment is from the visitors, with their no.9 missing an absolute sitter towards the end. We lose the ball in our own final third on the stand side and the Norwich lad advances before rolling it past the completely exposed Burns. The 9 just has to put it away into a net emptier than Donald Trump’s soul, but he goes for style instead of substance and his huge swing at the ball is timed so badly that instead of it rocketing into the goal, the ball bounces off the outside of his foot and spins towards goal before skipping up off the base of the post just right for the recovering Kenny to nod it back into the arms of our keeper. Genuinely one of those you can label as ‘Literally easier to score’. Naturally, we laugh our bollocks off at the 9’s misfortune whilst he has to contemplate just what he’s going to do instead of being a footballer. Unlucky mate.
The only other excitement of the half is Totts and the few DILF’s assembled discussing the long defunct ‘Live TV’ and it’s popular sporting interlude ‘Topless Darts’. Which is about as much of a sign that we really need some competitive football to divert our minds as you could possibly want. Thankfully, the ref adds no time on for us to take such discussions further and we head back into the bar for a much needed pint, especially on my part as I’m currently as sober as a Salvation Army convention. In the bar, I spot the COCs talking to the absent Jamie Butler and when their conversation ends, I sidle up to get the gossip on why he wasn’t between the sticks today. Sadly, the bellends had wasted his and my time by simply telling him he was now ‘a COC’ as they’d sponsored his kit. Yeah, cheers for the inside line there lads, fucks sake. I’ve got an audience hungry for intel and all I’ve wound up with is a shit dick joke. I put this behind me though and with Dukey in Prague I make sure Ipswich Lee is kept company at the bar in his absence, he seems happy enough however having seen Tractor Boys deadly rivals seen off on his manor. From here, talk turns to how much we dislike cycling as the Tour de France being on the box (a lot is the general consensus), Elton John doing a private gig at a lock in and Oliver Reed. So most bases covered I think.
Before things get out of hand though, the staff ring the bell and declare they’re closing at 4pm. This seems as good a time as any to hit the road and with the COC’s aiming for the Crown, I instead swerve that prospect and pile into an Uber with 4 Days and Lil’ Chris towards Beddington where the youngest of their clan is playing cricket practically in my back yard. What a touch! Now all I have to do is to work out what I’m making her ladyship for dinner tonight.
See you in Harrogate pop pickers.