Having last week travelled to an old National League foe in Tranmere, we’re on the La Bastarda heritage trail once again this weekend, making the much shorter hop to gawd blimey guv’nah, cheeky chirpy Cockney land and a meeting with Leyton Orient. Who in contrast to the mob from Birkenhead, almost certainly didn’t really accept their Non-League excursion with any sort of good grace at any point whatsoever and moaned like fuck every time some non-league shite turned them over, even when they were chugging along nicely at the top in their second season.
We of course welcomed the O’s to the Bastard League in proper fashion live on BT Sport back in the day, digging out a 2-0 win on the Fred Gee with both centre backs scoring the goals. It was about as Non-League as it comes to be be honest and boy did they not like it. “Non-League stinks of piss” being our favourite sounbdbite afterwards. Although that might also have been due to the troughs in bloke’s khazis in the GGL away end. However, our favourite moment from their all to brief 2 season tenure was the geezer on facebook who reckoned his son was so traumatised by our shithousing in a 1-0 win at Brisbane Road that season that he no longer wanted to go to football anymore. Did we laugh? Only our fucking cocks off mate. It’s to our eternal shame that we never took a screenshot, deserved to go on a t-shirt that did.
Naturally, as this is Sutton United, we of course can’t be having all that fun without there being a pound of flesh required somewhere along the line in return. So of course after that 2-0 non-leagueing in the first year, we promptly went to theirs top of the league before Xmas and played like absolute wankers in a 4-1 defeat. And worst of all, we all but handed them the league title at ours the following season when Ross Worner added himself to our growing list of “Oh look, Sutton did a silly. LOLz!” social media viral video sensations in conceding a last gasp penno and with it the win. It’s on the YouTubes if you wanna look it up, but we’ll be fucked if we’re reliving it by linking it here!
They’ve not really set League 2 alight since returning to their ‘rightful place’, however the tragic loss of Justin Edinburgh probably had a fair bit to do with that, stalling the momentum you’d normally get from being flung out of the Bastard League’s death like grip. They’ve had what seems like about half a dozen gaffers since and flirted slightly with a return via the trapdoor, but this season they have the experienced Kenny Jackett in charge and look a different prospect. If they could turn draws into wins, they’d be right in the mixer at the top of the table. Naturally, we’re not expecting an easy ride again this week.
It’s been a manic old week at HQ with work and other distractions like doing the Sutton Podcast, so I had no chance to get down the club for Matt’s ‘meet the manager’ or sort a brief for this one in advance. Thankfully Mr X was my saviour in the latter, popping in to sort me out on Friday and save me the ignominy of paying 23 sovs for 4th tier football on the day of the game. Cheers squire! We also get the Bristol Rovers cup tie train tickets sorted out absurdly fast to boot, which is very unlike us. Normally there’s a week’s uhmming and aahing to be done before we usually get down to business on that front. Guess we’re finally getting good at this ‘football awayday’ thing?? No one seems that massively up for this weekend’s action, so a last minute choice of “Bollocks to it, Hammy Hall at Liverpool Street for 11?” is unanimously agreed upon on the top secret, VIP only Whatsapp group thingy. This suits me fine, a lie in and effectively do my work commute on autopilot. Lovely stuff.
Up at the very agreeable time of 9am, I’m sorted and out the door by just after half past and off for a bus. Mrs Taz is also delighted I’ve not woken her up before daylight as I’m off to yet another Northern shithole, which is always a result. A 407 turns up first so I hop on and then 2 stops later have to spend 10 minutes sat around as they change fucking drivers. Of course, a much faster and less driver fussy 410 zips past and I’m left grumbling on the top deck going nowhere fast. Eventually, I hit East Croydon a bit later than planned but still well on track, unlike the fucking trains. Once more, after having had 18 months of no cunt using them over the pandemic to sort this shit out, there’s once more engineering works taking place today. Meaning the trains are packed and far too full of fucking Rugby types on the way to ‘Twickers’ for my liking. As I pass the time trying to shut out the casual racism, talk of drinking each other’s piss and other such top level BANTER, I note on the twitters that President Totts is also on his way in, heading up to the smoke from his newly acquired luxury retirement Dacha down on the South Coast. London Bridge heaves into view a bit later than I’d have liked and my next disappointment is finding my planned breakfast stop of Greggs is rammed. There’s no way I’m wasting VDT waiting for that, so I sack it and head for the underground. Where the poxy Northern Line is shut, meaning my plan of a quick hop to Moorgate and a leisurely stroll to Liverpool Street is abandoned quicker than the result of a House of Commons vote on someone being a corrupt bastard.
Sod it, I’ll walk it. It ain’t that far! And having wandered up the deserted city streets with ne’er a bacon roll or even a croissant to be found, I wander into the Hammy Hall at 5 past 11 to find Indy already parked up with a pint. Dumping the flag bag, I get the top news that Greek’s at the bar so I naturally head inside and get a pint added to the order. Sadly, the beer selection is shite, so I plump for a Guinness to get me started, as it’ll also make up for the lack of breakfast. The boozer’s already busy, with a bunch of football LADS already well on their way, singing songs about all day benders and someone being a sex offender. Nice. Back outside with Indy, a young Colchester fan is on the ponce for a cigarette. He’s perfectly polite about it all and we have a little chat about the game at their gaff a couple weeks back. It seems they’re off to the equally as shit as them Stevenage today. Sure to be a classic that mate! Greek appears with the pints just as Mr X surfaces from the underground, asking if Greek’s got him a pint.
It seems he’d messaged ahead, but the big fella’s not seen it and of course skipped him out of the round. Not that he believes this for several minutes before finally being convinced and heading in to get a pint of lager. 4Days & Lil’ Chris are next up, the Welshman’s trademark Wales bobble hat getting a chorus of “He’s got a rainbow, on his head” from the Colchester lads nearby. He just smiles sweetly and ignores it, deciding that piping up and causing a scene at 11.15am on a Saturday probably isn’t the best way to start your Saturday. Then last but not least, the happy band of travellers is complete with the appearance of none other than Dukey, complete in his trademark flat cap and shorts, despite it being fucking November. It seems he’s managed to get the thumbs up for this one from the Duchess and has wangled a day release from daddy day care duties. Good to see you mate! Don’t suppose you fancy doing the blog do you? No? Thought not. Prick.
With the Spoons being, well, pretty Spoons and Mr X unable to, in his words, “Handle fucking chirpy Essex cunts this early in a morning”, we decide to have one here and pop round the corner to the Astronomer as 4Days and I reckon it’ll be far quieter and have better beer. Greek attempts to interest us in a Shuffleboard place up the road that he’s got an 80 quid credit for, but no one’s quite awake enough for such a clearly off the chain, high octane start to the day as that and the majority vote is the Fullers round the corner. As predicted, the Astronomer is dead quiet and we get pints in, settling down for a couple to get the day nicely into its stride. Here Dukey refuses my kind offer of a seat, preferring to stand as “If I sit down, I’ll get comfortable and fuckin’ nod off!”. Fair enough. Here Greek also asks why the pub is named the Astronomer, to which everyone shrugs in a ‘Fucked if I know’ manner, leaving the Mediterranean fella disappointed. “I thought one of you lot would know and there’d be a story behind it!” he moans. “Like what exactly?” enquires Mr X. “That it was Galileo’s fucking local or summat?”. Greek ponders this for a moment before responding that it wouldn’t be a stretch as he’d probably fly into Stanstead from Italy and get the Express service in to town. Fair comment I suppose, he’s a serious academic so I doubt he’d be seen dead in the Spoons over the road. He’d definitely be a pint of Pride man I reckon.
After a couple here, we head for the Tube, grabbing a sarnie from Marks’ for the trip and make the short hop to Leyton on the Central Line. Next stop is the Technical on the high street, the usually designated away pub in these here parts. This we don’t mind as it’s a got a decent selection on offer for all tastes and it’s a bit of an eclectic spot. Getting stuck in, we’re soon seeing many familiar faces, including Totts and the DBDC wandering in for pre-match liveners. One aspect of this pub was the fact that the bogs were seemingly miles away from the bar down in the basement, or “Like Enva Hoxa’s living room” as Totts calls it. However, the visit this time seems much shorter than we can all recall and this can only be put down to the fact we were way more pissed the last time round. Dukey and Greek head off a pint before us as they go for their tickets, having not sorted in advance and then we follow on with about 15-20 to kick off. At the turnstiles, everyone else flies in but as per for Brisbane Road, I’m kept hanging about as I’ve got the flag. Now in the past, we’d been allowed in without the required fire certs this thing needed thanks to a bit of charm and the head steward not being a twat over it. But this time I’m kept waiting until the actual fire officer appears to verify my tags aren’t bollocks. Naturally, I hit the stands just as the ref’s whistle gets the game underway.
Bouzanis, Milsom, John, Goodliffe, Kizzi, Eastmond, Randall, Smith, Ajiboye, Bennett, Olaofe. SUBS: Wilson, House, Wyatt, Davis, Korboa, Bugiel, Barden
From the off, the lads are right at it and looking to get their noses in front. We press hard and a string of corners are won, largely coming to nowt, although one is nodded on target from close range, but the keeper is able to get down and stop it just on the goal line. When the goal comes though, it’s from a little out of nowhere. A cross field ball on halfway has Issac sniffing and when the defender’s touch lets him down, the Millwall lad’s in like a shot, legging it up field and into the box where he holds off his man and rattles a rising shot into the roof of the net at the ‘keeper’s near post. It’s bedlam in the noisy away end at this point and we’re looking good. However, within 10 minutes, it’s gone. We’ve not had much issue from their giant 9 so far, but one big throw from the far side is glanced on and drops perfectly inside the 6 yard box for a tap in. 1-1 and it’s a bit of a softie if I’m honest. It’s also their first effort on goal. Fucking typical that. The goal seems to give them a lift and we start to struggle a fair bit, mostly because we’re giving the ball away and we’re failing utterly to hold it and generate any pressure at the other end. Poor old Ritchie Bennett is the worst culprit, the ball pinging off him like he’s got springs in his shin pads every time someone finds him with a pass.
This means the ball keeps coming back at us and they can stick loads in the box for that big fuck off 9 to stick his nut on. We stick at it though and despite a couple of moments, remain unscathed. At the other end, we almost retake the lead when Deano lobs a free kick up from halfway and a clearing header drops to Bennett on the edge of the D, where he takes a touch and cracks one off the inside of the post. Sadly, in line with how the rest of his day is going, it spins out and across the face of goal before rolling out for a goal kick rather than nestling in the corner. They really should be in front too by the break, Louis making a right old mess of a nod back to Bouzanis leaving him soundly in no mans land and right in the shit, but the big 9 with all the empty goal to plant his header into, somehow guides it wide of the post. So, in level at the break, time to reset and go again lads!
Sadly, within a minute of the restart, we’re up the creek. Aimless cross in, Deano comes to take, collides with Louis and drops the ball to give the 9 an even easier nod in than he had in the first half. Joy. From here, we largely sink without trace to be honest and aren’t really in the game. We create nowt from wide and the only chance we get is from another bit of iffy defending on the edge of the box which allows Issac to nip in again. But this time with the whole goal to aim at, he drives his shot straight down the middle at the keeper. Moments later, they’ve hit the bar from a cross with a lad sliding in back stick. Bennett makes way for Omar, which he doesn’t seem best pleased about. Although I’m not sure why as he’s had a bit of a mare today. Kizzi then has to leave the action after being properly clattered by one of their lads, a challenge that only earns him a yellow. Any hopes of getting back into the match are done with about 10 left when another long throw from our side isn’t cleared and drops to the huge 9 on 18 yards to crack a fine volley into the top far corner. It’s a great hit to be fair, the wanker. Can’t argue with that.
We throw on Wilson and try to get back into it, but we’re not offering much and they look like they could add to their tally anytime. And they do, deep in added time. We doze off on a corner, they play it short and a shot from the corner of the box somehow squeezes in at the near post. There’s still also time for them to rattle the other upright when we get hit on the break right at the death. Not exactly finishing strong here are we lads? So, it’s a 4-1 kick in the arse and a slightly melancholic stroll back to the Technical after for a sorrows drowning pint. Here Mr X appears to want the concept of gloryholes explaining to him, “Is it just a guy thing?”. And this of course leads to us suggesting he compile a list of League 2’s finest facilities. Also, back down in the dungeon bogs for a pre-departure piss, I notice someone’s scribbled ‘Holy Batpants’ on the wall in silver pen, a statement which I think sums the day up pretty well to be honest.
Pints downed, we head back into Liverpool Street and return to a much busier Astronomer than when we left it. “Wonder if Galileo’s in?” someone wonders aloud as we head for the bar. We get a table shortly after arriving and settle in for a couple of jars whilst Mr X states he’s looking forward to the SSC game this season as it’ll mean he can get away with smoking in the ground as there’ll be no one there. I disagree and firmly hope he’s rugby tackled by a steward and immediately ejected “If not, I’ll fucking do it” chuckles Greek. We also get to hear all Dukey’s tales from his new role at his school. Apparently he’s only had a knife pulled on him once and the kids in his class reckon he’s got ‘trim’. This he states is apparently a tribute of some sort to his smart appearance whilst on the job, we’re not convinced. “Well they’re definitely not referring to your waistline mate, that’s for sure”. At this point, the lack of sustenance is starting to bite and Greek throws out the choice of Nandos over the road or 5 Guys round the corner. As the cheeky chicken place is rammed and the wait for a table will take forever, we all take a moment to remortgage and head for the burger gaff instead. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine bit of scoff, but 17 quid for a burger and chips is a bit fucking rich for my blood. Especially when you could get two for the dollar equivalent of that in the US.
Here, Mr X orders a large fries, purely based on my earlier comment that I’d heard they were being a bit more stingy on the chips these days due to spud shortages, only for him to get a portion big enough to feed a family of four and he promptly spends the next 15 minutes constantly asking if anyone wants any chips. Fed and watered, we bid farewell to Dukey here, as he heads for home having got deep into the brownie points overdraft already. “She’ll know we’ve lost, so she won’t understand me staying out on the lash late after” being his logic. We instead plan on heading to Farringdon for a couple and a Thameslink home, but as we depart we find that the ever reliable link to the Republic is actually running about as well as HS2 or Crossrail and we sack off, calling the advance party of 4 Days and Lil’ Chris to divert to Victoria Spoons for a couple more there.
Greek legs it after one beer, getting the earlier train back homewards, whilst the rest of us take our time whilst entertained by two young ladies who are getting quite amorous with each other the moment both their respective male company head for the gents. Naturally they stop the instant both reappear in view. “Those lads are either in for a belting end to their night or the biggest disappointment of their lives” chuckles 4Days. Indeed! With bellys full of beer and overpriced American food, we waddle down to the platform and all hop on the 5 to 10 train back South. The trip back is fairly subdued and 20 minutes later, I’m hopping off in the Badlands with 4Days and Chris. We part ways and having directed a lad to the correct stop for a 157 towards Croydon, I sling the flag bag over my back, stick my headphones in and get my march on for home. As always when in need of an aural pick me up, I go for some Motown.
I plump for the 1971 playlist, it’s not properly classic era but still able to produce some belters. As I head for HQ whilst keeping an eye out for any enemy elements looking to ambush an important PROWS celeb like myself, Stevie Wonder fills my ears with his cover of the Beatles “We can work it out”.
Damn straight Stevie old son. Mansfield on Tuesday, let’s have it.