Xmas is coming! How do we know? No, it’s the never ending fucking perfume ads on telly, nor the fact that Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas” is on constant repeat in every. single. fucking. shop. you dare to even go near, let alone enter. Nor has it got sod all to do with a certain load of brightly lit artic’s owned by a certain soft drink firm trundling round your one way system. Oh no, it’s the increase of frequency of going out getting boozed with your work colleagues and rarely having to get your hand in your skyrocket as some nice bod with a company card is getting them in.
Mine actually started earlier than usual this year and as you may have read in Dukey’s Fylde blog, I ended up stumbling in from London as they were departing for Blackpool. This chastening experience taught me two things. Firstly, I am most definitely too fucking old for all that shit, especially the ‘Waiting for a train at Victoria at 5am’ part. The Saturday was also an absolute write off and brought me little in the way of sympathy from Mrs Taz. The second point is a slightly more positive one however, as it appears hitting the booze hard into the wee early hours of the morning when combined with a good dose of Lemsip cold and flu tablets is a 100% nailed on cure for the common cold.
I’ll be expecting a Nobel Prize or something for this discovery just as soon as I’ve written up my paper on the subject and had it published. Of course, Gandermonium duties take priority here, because that’s how much we love our wonderful, loyal and really very attractive readership. I know, we’re a selfless bunch.
Still, despite lesson number 1 above, this hasn’t proved any sort of deterrent at all. As since then, I’ve been out twice more on the piss which has taken something of a toll on my ageing frame. Like the legendary Dundo, I can still put in a shift, but not two or three times a week. The recovery time is just too short! It was on the train back home from the latest episode of this childish behaviour just this Thursday night that I was sprung with the reminder that I was in the chair for this here blog. It seems that Dukey was still simmering over me dumping Braintree on him the other week as he took a little too much pleasure I felt in reminding me of my duty. That and distracted me from concocting some flimsy load of bullshit for her indoors about how my “Quick pint after work” had actually morphed into “More like eight and stumbling in pissed as a lord”. Hell hath no fury like a Dukey scorned it would appear.
With the Friday off thanks to some fortunate planning on my part, I was able to lie in and recover from the evening’s excesses before taking the opportunity to trundle on down to Brooklands Museum in deepest darkest Surrey for a mosey about. This place is full of all sorts of old cars, bikes and other things so basically the kind of gaff that would probably cause Totts to have a coronary. In fact I wouldn’t be amazed if he’s already been banned for sniffing the more oily of the exhibits, I didn’t see his face pinned up behind the jump as I paid to get in though, so I could be wrong. Still, it was a nice waste of a day and my inner eight year old was delighted, mostly by being allowed to sit in a Harrier Jump Jet. Phwoar. Although the bloke was watching quite closely, so I didn’t get to press all the buttons in the cockpit sadly. If you’re local, check it out. Great VFM and if you go on a freezing cold December day, you’ll have the place practically to yourself! And now that I think we’ve padded this shit out quite enough, I suppose it’s time we move onto the football drinking eh?
It’s another nippy day out as I stealthily infiltrate the Occupied Territories for the train up to Herne Hill. Still, at least it’s not raining yet, which if the weather doom mongers on the Gandermonium top secret, VIP, invite only Whatsapp thingy are to be believed, is what is due to happen later. Joy. I grab a cuppa from the coffee shop by the station and message Dukey to see if he wants one too. No reply. Oh well! As I get to the bottom of the hill, I see the flat capped one on the horizon and wait for him to catch up. He’s not impressed, mainly as he’d forgotten the entrance to the station from his side is shut due to building work and he got halfway there before remembering and having to double back. Sadly, when on the platform we’re still not able to locate the SUFC poster that’s due to be going up here. It looks like the forces of darkness might once more be suppressing our liberation activities in these parts. I’ll have to have a word with Totts later, get an emergency meeting of the politburo sorted. This insult cannot go unanswered.
|Mulled wine and hog lumps. All a growing lad needs…|
As we count down the minutes to the train, an out of breath 4 Days and Lil’ Chris appear. It seems that the beardy one’s plan of getting an Uber from Chris’s playboy mansion failed due to a payment issue and instead, they’ve had to have it on their toes to make the train rather than be wafted here in some limo or other. Unlucky lads. On the train, Belly is already waiting and we trundle north to Herne Hill. We’re a bit short handed today it seems, with Mr X having been out at an Xmas do last night, he’s probably at home in a coma. And there’s no sign of Steve. It seems that Indy and Sean Connery’s Stuntman won’t be joining us either as the latter has seemingly done himself in whilst performing some dangerous stunt or other. Either that or he fell over pissed after too many Guinness in the Claret, no one seems sure.
Most of the chat relates to Dukey’s early departure post-match tonight as he’s heading off down to Gatwick for his bird’s Xmas do. Apparently he’s been barred from wearing his trademark flatty and there’s to be no amber OR chocolate worn. Oh dear! There’s a cold wait at Herne Hill, but the connection is on time and we’re soon trundling back south to Bromley South where news reaches us that Mr X is alive and en route, albeit mostly concentrating on not throwing up. Steve is still MIA however, so when we hit Bromley and to give the other idiots chance to assemble, we hit the spoons for a quick livener. Mr X ambles in looking as shocking as he always does after a night on the piss and reveals that he was at his former firm’s do, where it seems that such is his absence affecting the organisation he was made a ‘Name your price’ offer to return. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t so pissed as to simply accept a large G&T for his services. He refuses the offer of a pint here however.
With Steve having overslept and both Rax and Magnum PI offering to join us ‘by 1pm’ (er, bye!) we hike up the High Street and cut through the Glades, fighting against the tide of crazed Crimbo shoppers with 1000 yard stares to find our way to the Red Lion in North Brom, the only boozer up in that part of the world open at 11. And it seems the landlord is pleased to see us! Well, sort of. Outside watering his window boxes he greets us with “Ah, playing Bromley today eh?” before adding “And no fucking stickers in the bogs this time!”. Us? Stickers? Not a chance! Ahem. We mumble something about that being “the young’uns” and stumble in to get warm and the drinking properly underway. Here Belly follows up some earlier comments about it being ‘mulled wine weather’ by taking advantage of the stuff being on tap on the bar. Very continental from the Doctor there. We all take the opportunity to get some grub in, but none more so than the hungover X, whose state is emphasised by him forgetting the key difference between buttered bread and toast.
Eventually Steve appears, followed by Magnum and then Rax. Finally, Greek arrives with Dorch and the party is complete. As usually happens in this pub, any plan of heading elsewhere is abandoned due to it being fucking freezing out and we instead enjoy several beers by the warm fire. Well, we do. Dr Bell sticks resolutely to his original mulled wine selection. Eventually though, we decide to brave the cold and the rain which has now started to fall to head round the corner to the Anglesey Arms. Here the landlady seems shocked by the sudden influx of people into her establishment. Another couple of quick pints are downed and then cabs are ordered for the run to the ground. We get a nice Russian chap in a Prius who is even kind enough to drop us halfway up the driveway.
|I’m not going out there. Fuck that.|
Butler, Bennett, Pearce, Collins, Bailey, Davis, Cadogan, Eastmond, Taylor, Asante-Thomas, Clough SUBS: Beautyman, McQueen, Mason, S. Brown, Beckwith
Having lobbed up the full 18 quid to get in having forgotten to buy in advance (BTW, 18 quid? Really? For an open terrace, a khazi and tea bar? Fucking hell) we enter to find everyone huddled together for warmth under the little cover next to the tea bar. In the ground itself, there’s not much more respite from the steady freezing rain with everyone crammed back against the read little block of terrace in the corner, trying to make use of the tiny overhang above for shelter. Before KO, I elect to move down the side and see if I can shelter under some kind soul’s brolly, mainly as I’m in no mood for the usual D-grade Green Street shitgibbonry that takes place at this end through the segregation fence. Kicking towards us 1st half, the U’s have largely the better of the contest, but never quite look like creating loads of opportunities. In fact it’s pretty quiet first 20 with Bromley finding it hard to get out of their half and the best chance coming to Jose, who curls wide of the post from about 20 yards, but whilst it’s busy and tidy, it’s hardly stirring stuff.
Then from nowhere, the ball comes to new man Asante-Thomas a good 25 from goal and with non one closing down, he hits a fierce dipper over the keeper and into the onion bag. Blimey! Not bad for starters mate. Not bad at all! This doesn’t really push us on however and soon after, a rather poor challenge on Brad Pearce on halfway sees the so far impressive youngster depart with blood pissing from a wound down the side of his lower leg. Of course, this isn’t even a free kick in the eyes of Mr Allison, the fussy fucker who took charge of the Wealdstone tie a few weeks back and gave three of the softest penos you’re ever likely to witness. Today, whilst not having a proper shocker, he does little to prove he deserves to be carrying a whistle at this level.
Rather than drop Clough back in to replace the subbed youngster, we instead bring in Becks and really nothing else happens from here. Bromley finally manage a couple of forays forwards and one header drops wide of the post, but it’s largely forgettable fare overall. Still, as we head back for the shelter of the barfood area, a 1-0 lead is held. Although I’m not sure anyone really thinks that’ll be enough to do the job. I certainly don’t! In the khazis, someones made a mess with the paper towels from the dispenser in the corner now lying in a heap on the floor. Helpful. Back outside, any hope of getting a pie or a cuppa are scuppered by service slower than Roses 3.0 back at GGL, so I return to the terrace and once more ponce myself half a spot under Dukey’s brolly for the restart. From the off, it’s clear we’re in for a long half of football.
It seems the conditions favoured us in the first half and now that they no longer do, the previously awkward looking Bromley start to press more. With a couple of glimpses of danger already provided, I head for that pie and a much needed cup of tea. The steak pie I obtain turns out to be about the highlight of the half quite frankly. I’ve not been back long before we go and let in what seems to be our now customary two oppo goals. The first from a corner that Butler comes for, gets nowhere near and the bloke guides a simple header inside the back stick. Then a couple of mins later, a soft free kick is swung in and no one goes with the runner who again gives the ball a deft nod into the net to complete the turnaround.
Our efforts to get back into the contest are basically ‘lump it to Cloughy’, which sadly don’t really work as the home defence now has summat to cling onto. With time passing, it looks like we’re going to slip out of the competition with a bit of a whimper, but as the last 10 kicks in the home side display the sort of nerves you’d expect from a side not in great form lately. First McQueen gets into the box but takes a touch when a first time shot was probably required and the defender makes a good last ditch tackle. Then with time almost up, Clough’s presence seems to scare the keeper on the edge of his box and he drops a routine catch. McQueen’s shot is blocked but runs loose and JC looks certain to score until he’s clearly pulled down by his opposite number. Typically, having given fucking penalties left right and centre for all sorts of nonsense at Ruislip Vale in the FA Cup, Mr Allison takes a look and then of course waves play on. Twat.
After this, full time can’t come soon enough and we’re on our toes straight out onto Hayes Lane back to the spoons for a much needed pint and to restore some feeling to certain appendages. Sadly, even this is a fuck up. Steve, JR and myself arrive first and are promptly refused entry. “Been to the football?” asks the lass on the door. “Yeah, Bromley” we admit. “No football fans. Police advice, sorry. There’s been some trouble at the game”.
“Are you sure you don’t mean Palace love?” I enquire, but she’s having none of it. It seems there’s been enough tossing it off between the kids to cause the local five-oh to stop us getting a beer. Fuck this, we’re outta here. With a train to Herne Hill due in a couple of minutes, we assemble the troops, head straight to the station and get the fuck out of dodge. On the short trip back north, Mr X starts complaining of needing a piss. So much so that he sits down and ignores all abuse and movement so as not to shake anything loose before we get to our destination. He holds out and then gets seriously lucky as we pull into Herne Hill with a khazi on the platform practically opposite the doors on our carriage. Very disappointing! We head outside and hit the Commercial for a couple of welcome beers sat at a table in close proximity to a nice open fire to dry out and get things that should be hanging to return to doing so. Here we also hear about the Bromley skipper buying JC a post match pint as he couldn’t quite believe he’d got away with the late penalty shout. Yeah, cheers mate.
Rax ditches us here before we head for the train back to Sutton. Weirdly, we notice there’s a hipster Ice Cream stall open in the station building. Ice Cream. In fucking December. If you want some that bad, go buy a pint of milk and leave it outside for 20 minutes ya fuckin’ weirdos! As we head back to civilisation, a plan of a pint in the Bank, with then a nightcap in the newly refurbed O’Niells is hatched. But on arrival, the Bank is packed so we skip straight to O’Niells and settle in for a couple of beers. As Mickey’s little hand slips past 9, Magnum and Steve head off for a curry and the rest of us scatter to all points. Our work here is done. Thankfully a 407 is soon on the scene and I’m being whisked home in warm bussy luxury.
Then I remember there’s the matter of the 7:35 train off Kings Cross on Saturday to Halifax. Joyous. That’ll no doubt delay the completion of my Nobel Prize paper even further….