Whilst everyone tries their very best to get back to normal and basically forget the Covidbollocks ever happened, last week’s postponement was a bitter reminder that the pesky lil’ virus is still lurking and looking to screw around with our pre-arranged leisure plans. Thankfully though, it was at least a fairly local game that got canned and we’re not having to schlep to the deepest reaches of the country on a Tuesday night. Still, it was a shame to love some momentum after the decent run out against the Palace kids and not getting to try & put right that Oldham result the week before.
As is the way these days however, the reaction on the socials was of course completely balanced and sympathetic. Ha! I lie of course. It was the usual wave of shitgibbonry from fuckwits, divs and FIFA playing virgins you get these days. “Tinpot”, “Fuck off back to non-league” and so on spouted by people with memories shorter than what barely dangles betwixt their legs. Remember that pandemic thing lads? You know, the one we’ve had the last 2 years? What makes their arseholery worse is that the main reason we couldn’t play is that FL rules state you have to name 3 outfield subs on the bench and the best we could scrape up was 2. And that’s if we’d even got the PCR tests back in time to prove we had enough non lurgy’d players. So suck your mums twitter bells. Thankfully, the virusy cloud lifts and the lads are able to get back to a semblance of normalcy this week and the game against Stevenage can go ahead. Although at this point, no one has a scooby what sort of side we’ll be putting out. Oh well, guess we’ll have to wait and see won’t we?
After a hard week at the grindstone, topped off with a heavy night out on the Thursday for a leaving do, a lie in on a Saturday after the busy August we had is very much welcomed. The usual admin tasks are undertaken and I plod out into an overcast but warm afternoon for the bus into town. It’s weird, I genuinely can’t remember the last time I did this routine. Bus into Sutton, draw some coin from the bankomat and some scoff from Greggs patisserie for the walk down into the Republic. Mad how little things like this have been lost or changed over the last 18 months or so. As I munch and stroll, the clouds disappear and it starts to get distinctly ginger unfriendly all of a sudden. This means by the time I hit the driveway and greet Ryan from the Yoof crew on car parking duty, I’m sweating like a good ‘un.
Sadly, the air conditioned luxury of the bar has to wait a little longer as I have some business to attend to in getting my Exeter ticket sorted for next weekend. I’ve also somehow got lumbered with getting Chalmers ones too. Still, AB greets me at the table by the club shop and cheerfully parts me with the best part of 60 notes for the privilege. There had been a notice from Mr X on the super, top secret, VIP Whatsapp thingy on Friday morning about a mass buy up as he was down the club and could facilitate, but I’d missed it completely due to work and in true Gandermonium ‘Leave No Man Behind’ fashion, I was fucked right off out of it. It’s a cold, brutal world out there folks, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
With my important admin sorted, it’s off into the bar finally for a pint and a cool down. My early arrival for tickets leaves me supping alone in the back bar and I pitch up in a corner and listen to Bruce’s banter for the lunch guests. Here he’s sold a pup when welcoming some guests from abroad, describing them as being “From Sweden” when they’re apparently actually from Norway. Ooops. Fortunately they take this in good humour. The gaffer then appears for a quick chat and this allows me to earwig in on the team news for today.
It seems that we’ll be without Wilson, Harry and Kenny today as well as Omar, who despite being back from International duty has picked up some non-Covid bug and has called in sick this morning. So there’s debuts for Ali Smith in midfield and we’ll have a Sho-Silva\Ritchie Bennett pairing up front. It’s not all bad news thouugh as Dave and Enzio are going to be out wide, so we should be able to cause them some problems. First pint down, I decide to top up and park up on the wall outside for a change seeing as I’m still on my jack, but as I head out, Burgers appears and I of course have to beer him up too. Then before we’ve even settled down outside and I’ve had chance to pass on my missus hearty congratulations on his missus tomatoes, Belly rocks up. Fucks sake!
Bit by bit people drift in, a hobbling Magnum shows and it’s clear he’s had another slap from his gout. He really needs to lay off the spinach that lad! Tatey rolls in with the kids and reveals the day has already cost him the best part of 100 notes thanks to the top sales technique of Mr X in the new SUFC megastore. Apparently he’d simply told the kids to “Ask Daddy for one”. Kerching! All the usual bollocks and natter of course follows whilst the sun re-appears above and again begins it’s assault on the fairer skinned amongst us. Before long though, we’re all supping up and heading for the turnstiles to see if the barcodes on our new season ticket cards work properly. Thankfully everything goes as planned and I’m in for the walk round to my new match day home on the Curva Nord.
TEAM: Bouzanis, Milsom, Barden, John, Goodliffe, Eastmond, Smith. Ajiboye, Boldewijn, Sho-Silva, Bennett. SUBS: Wyatt, Rowe, Kouassi, Dundas, House, Kizzi.
The opening exchanges are, to be honest, dire. We look like a side that’s not really trained much this week and they’re not a million miles better either. Passes all over the place, shanked balls into touch, poor first touches. It’s a bit of a mess really and not a great advert for the Isthmian league let alone League 2. Things improve from the 15 minute mark and Enzio causes their full back some early problems. Bennett forces a save from their keeper and Tobi has a decent header straight at the keeps when either side of him would be a goal. They manage a couple of moments too, the best of which being a ball from the far side that’s nutted back on goal at the far post and Bouzanis makes a save above his head with the help of the crossbar. Deano also has to make a firm save from a well struck drive.
So, bugger all apiece at the break. As we mill about waiting for the restart, the main topics of conversation are on Oldham being 2 down already at Orient. Already my comment after that game of whilst it being a shit result at the time, it’ll look a LOT worse come Xmas is looking pretty bang on. Sad to see the club in such a state. Maybe one day the FL will actually get a handle on not letting shithouse cunts take over clubs. The other bit of chat regards our new pitch sprinklers and whether they are indeed soaking away fans as seems apparent from our spot on the terrace at the other end.
The second half is bit livelier than the first with marked upping in quality from both sides. The U’s have the better of the ball and are getting on top when naturally, we go behind from a simple route one goal. Their keeper slips and shanks a kick straight to Louis. He clears it back upfield, but it’s immediately hammered first time back over his shoulder for a runner in behind. The rapid no7 outpaces Louis and rattles it home. Ah cock it.
A response is required and a response we get. Kizzi (on for Barden after just a couple of minutes) and Dave combine on the Rec side before the full back clips a ball to the back post for Bennett to nut in the equaliser with just three minutes elapsed since going behind. Right, let’s get at this lot now!! The goal lifts the U’s and they start pressing hard trying to force home their advantage. 5 mins after levelling, the pressure tells. Dave crosses deep to the far post, the ball is nodded back across and a scramble ensues. The ball is eventually forced to the edge where Tobi shoots and his goal bound effort appears to be handled on the way in with the keeper beaten. Penalty!
While Bennett’s stood over it, the ref has a chat with his lino and confirms the handball has denied a goal scoring oppo and produces a red card to rub salt into Stevenage’s wound. Ritchie sends the keeper the wrong way and slots the peno to put us in front. 2-1! Right can we please not fuck this one up now lads? We stick to the task and both Easty and Ajiboye both go close with volleyed efforts just over, but as the clock ticks down, our lack of match prep starts to show and we begin to tire allowing the 10 men a glimpse of a way back in. One attack does end with them getting the ball into the net but the lino’s flag is straight up and it’s chalked off. With 10 left, fresh legs are introduced with Dundo making his much hoped for FL debut on his 568th appearance aged a sprightly 40 years of age, replacing Bennett up top. I bet he never thought that would happen after his debut at Hayes in that miserable 07/08 season!! The old boy does a stirling job holding up and covering ground up top, but his biggest contribution is putting their 9 off in the box when a corner drops to him, forcing him to miscue his shot and loop it over the target. Injury time is negotiated and with 5 extra played, the ref blows up and we finally have our first ever Football League victory.
The lads are rightfully applauded off for their efforts and we then head barwards for a much needed celebratory snifter. Sadly, we find both doors allowing access to the bar locked! It seems the main room has a private function on and the clubhouse door is shut for Covid reasons. Well lads, make your mind up eh!? And can we stop booking shit in the back room for Saturday home games? It must be costing us thousands in lost matchday bar revenue. Having finally gained access to the clubhouse, we then have to queue to get in and get served at the bar, although some sneaky maneuvering by Belly gets us pinted up much sooner. The old git has his uses sometimes it seems!
Beers flow, Strikers are Key is drawn and Scouse Neil of the Cocktail Crew is the lucky recipient of 600 large after opening the safe. It’s a small reward for an old Liverpool fan being forced to wear a blue sequinned jacket for the whole process. Get ’em in sunshine!! More beers follow and as the evening teeters on the brink of staying out and boozing but getting a bollocking from the missus for not doing dinner, Magnum announces he’s making a move and in the process, saves my life as he’s driving! “Any chance of a lift back my way mate?”. A few minutes later, he’s dumping me in Carshalton High Street and I set about doing some quick half cut shopping in Saino’s for supplies to make dinner with. And so I end up making a slightly inebriated, but still mightily banging First FL 3 points Ham and Cheese gratin back at HQ, much to Mrs Taz’s enternal disgust. “You’re pissed and still made that? I hate you sometimes”.
I fucking knew watching all those Keith Floyd shows would come in handy one day.