Good day to you dear reader! Yep, I’m back in the saddle after a brief break from League Two cobblers duties with the Pizza Cup during the week. I had to sack said game off due to work commitments and generally not being arsed enough to make the dash to GGL when done. Thankfully Dukey found a gap in his busy nappy changing schedule to fit us in for an entry and took care of business for us. And so did Mike the man responsible for the recently resurrected Sutton Podcast. Despite having it sorted, he did one for us anyway after our little plea on the twitters. Cheers chap! Andy yes, once you’re in that’s it. You’re on the list. Look forward to getting lumbered again in the near future sunshine!
Onto this weekend’s action, where we’ll be renewing relations with old Non-League chums Tranmere Rovers. They of course escaped La Bastarda before us a couple of years back and rocketed through to League One before Covid kicked in, cut that campaign short and they narrowly returned to League 2 thanks to PPG. They were a rarity in our Bastard League days, as they were a BELT that adjusted and pretty quickly realised that the brutal survival of the fittest Battle Royale that passes for England’s 5th tier was not one to be ponced through and that the National was actually a cruel mistress that feeds off the fear, loathing and salty tears of ex-Football League mobs that find themselves down there. You need to roll those sleeves up and get stuck in to get out. As such, we seemed to get on fairly well.
It’s also where Dundo notched his 99th goal in Amber and Chocolate to pull off a big win at Prenton the season they finally escaped the dungeons. That was also the time we took the opportunity to break new ground and have a weekender in Liverpool. So with our status as football clubs once more aligned, it was an obvious choice for a repeat job and another night on the piss after the game. This was easier said than done as it turned out. Trains were a bit busy and finding digs was a pain in the arse, with most places charging what Boris has given the city for that latest Beatles museum recently. We soon worked out what the problem was, the game was on the same weekend as ComiCon, meaning Liverpool would be awash with Stormtroopers, Harry Potters and the Avengers. Trains were eventually sorted for a small premium before Mr X thought outside the box and went VIP for the digs, bagging us two small apartments a 20 minute walk from Lime Street. That’ll do pig.
As per usual for these awaydays oop North, this means an early rise for the hike up into London for the rattler and it’s still dark out when I leave HQ for a cab into Croydon. Sod buses this morning! At East Croydon, I find a distinct lack of stuff going into Victoria for some reason, so rather than hanging about I make the dash for a Thameslink and head for St Pancs and suck up the walk down to Euston instead of going direct. Once on the train I find out that overrunning engineering work at Victoria has caused the issue as some of the others are struggling too, Indy in particular. The train’s fine and alighting in St Pancs I walk up Euston Road, noting a terrible lack of stickerage on the lamposts along the way. Shame, as it used to be a good route for spotting. At Euston, I find Greek, Mr X and Robbo parked up smokoing and getting breakfast on board. Greetings exchanged, I go to head for my usual hot rolls run to Sainsburys. “They’re out of bacon sadly mate” mumbles Greek through a gob full of what looks like Bacon. Yeah, I fucking wonder why that is eh?
Back with some sausage baps instead, Greek claims the first ComiCon spot of the weekend, “I’ve seen a Thanos” he declares. Not that we’re counting or had established any sort of scoring system. Shortly after, Tatey, Lee and Loffers appear and we’re just waiting on Indy when the B-Team and various members of the Yoof appear as well. Tatey wanders about still half asleep mumbling about how he needs a coffee and is gutted to find Pret shut. He disappears into the concourse and re-appears a short while later with…a Whopper and a coke from Burger King. This soon prompts a unanimous agreement amongst the travelling mob as scoring high on the minging breakfast stakes. Indy finally shows from his delayed train with time to spare and we head for the platform. I bag a cuppa on the way and catching up at the train, I find the carriage lettering confusing. We’re in E, so when I get to D, I expect ours to be next. Nope. U. Must me some weird Italian system Avanti uses. We leave on time and as we head North, the usual train chatter commences. Now, you’d expect with no Dukey in tow, that this would be far less nonsensical and you’d be completely wrong.
There’s all sorts of bollocks spouted about fingering, odd practices called or related to bowling balls, a chat I refrain from paying too much attention to if I’m honest. Also on the list is the nicknames that people tend to acquire and that get largely used here. Greek’s not impressed with the imagination shown with the likes of ‘Ipswich Lee’ and ‘Southampton Steve’ and wants more effort made. Fine, Lee’s DJ Tractor Boy, that’s one sorted! We head into Lime Street on time and alight just after 10am, with plenty of time to find the bag drop for the gang’s luggage for the day, as we can’t get into the digs until 3pm. And well, we’ll be a bit busy around that time. Mr X leads the way, insisting it’s somewhere down by Liverpool Central station. But when we get there, there’s nowt there that matches up. It soon turns out we’ve obviously cocked up, albeit the blame doesn’t lie just with us. The place is called ‘Lime Street Station Left Luggage’ but it’s the description that describes it as 35meteres from Central station. Fucks sake. Back we go as we’ve gone completely in the wrong direction.
We eventually find it the other side of Lime Street in a lovely looking part of town. “That’s the last time I’ll ever be seeing that!” comments Loffers as she reappears after dropping her bag. Confident then? With luggage ditched, we can turn to getting the festivities under way. Despite the pissing about with the luggage, we’ve still 15 minutes to opening time and set about looking for a boozer. We head towards the Mersey tunnel as there’s a couple places we’d spotted there and having failed to get a beer in the Xmas market next to the town hall (It’s the middle of fucking November lads!) we reach the Ship & Mitre with 5 minutes still to opening. So we mooch about outside as the lads open up and once inside, we find we’ve made a fine choice as the range of beers is excellent, both for the beardy weirdy ale bods like me and lager and sweet drinks takers like Mr X and Greek. With such a selection on hand and Robbo suffering a touch from wandering round half of Liverpool, we stay here for 3 pints to get the day going. This includes Greek hitting some 8% Pina Colada sour beer and Mr X finding an Italian beer named ‘Poretti’ to his taste and that quickly gets ridiculed as a “Lidl’s Moretti” by everyone else. Yeah, that’s the way it’s gonna go.
We eventually move on, but don’t have to go far as the Excelsior is literally 10 yards away and the pints continue. Here Lee talks himself out of his brand new DJ nickname and instead lands himself with the far less cooler sounding ‘Lord Helmet’ relating to chatter about his days on the thin blue line. Tatey also comes under fire here as Greek turns on him after a bit of banter and tells him he’s not even his favourite Tate, naming Tatey’s wife & kids ahead of him. This of course soon spirals out of control as comedian Catherine Tate is added to this list, along with both Tate galleries in London and then ‘Po-TATE-toes’. “All 4000 fucking varieties an’all” confirms the big fella. At this point, I badly need cash as the whip is low and I’ve got zero folding on me at all. The barman tells me of a Tescos up the road a short walk away. Sorted!
I take Greek’s card with me to get him some too and head off quickly as another round is being bought. I hit the ATM and as I wait for the person in front of me to get their 20 quid out, I notice two absolute wrong ‘uns standing several feet away, in the middle of the pavement and several feet apart, which is odd considering they clearly know each other and are chatting. Hmmm, fishy. Come my turn, I’m about to pull the best part of 200 quid out, spread over 2 cards, so this is going to leave me open for a bit longer than I’d really like. The nearest bloke to me immediately starts eyeing me up as I go to pop my card in, so I stop and stare back, giving him my best “I’ll definitely bite your nose off you prick” look. It seems he gets the message and he nudges his mate and they skulk off up the road.
Back in the pub, we start looking into transport to get us out to the ground and have at least one pint in the famous Prenton ‘glamping tent’ behind the stand which acts as the supporters fan zone and bar. We’re not having much luck with Uber, so with time pressing on a couple of the smokers flag down a couple of black cabs to get us started. This leaves me, Mr X, Loffers and Lee to get the last sherbert. We keep trying Uber whilst looking out for another black cab before Loffers bags one on her phone, albeit with a 10 minute wait. Time for a cheeky short then! Drinks downed, we’re soon on the way finally, but with time getting on, we’re going to have to sack off the tent and head into the ground. “It’s packed and you’ll never get a beer before kick off” is the assessment from the advance party. Ok then! In we go. In the ground we grab a pie and a pint and wait for the rest of the gang to catch us up.
Bouzanis, Kizzi, Rowe, Goodliffe, Milsom, Eastmond, Smith, Randall, Ajiboye, Bennett, Olaofe SUBS: House, Wyatt, John, Korboa, Dundas, Davis, Wilson
The U’s start lively and in the first 2 minutes, a ball in behind has Tanto turning his man into space, but the defender cuts him down and earns a yellow for his trouble. Our bright opening doesn’t last though and the hosts slowly get a grip and start dominating possession. Chances are few and far between though and the best chance early on is a shot across Bozanis from the corner of the box that’s wide of the far post. The best chance comes mid-way though when the so far quiet Will Randall nods a cross from Ajiboye, who’s had our best moments so far, off the far post. It’s a pretty dull half action wise though and we go into the break level.
The second half is more even overall, but its the U’s who show the most threat. Coby Rowe has a hooked effort on goal from a long throw cleared off the line and Bennett’s follow up is deflected just wide for a corner. The big lad’s in again later when he gets in behind after a defender misjudges a long ball. But the lad in the backline makes up for the error, getting a great block in on Ritchie’s shot. We have what looks line a pen shout too when Goodliffe latches onto a kock through and gets pulled down. The already homer ref further annoys the travelling fans by not only turning down the shout but booking Ben for diving. Wanker. The game seems to be drifting towards a stalemate when with 20 to go, we nick something. Ali puts a pass into the channel but it’s nowhere near Issac and the defender goes back to keeper with Tanto chasing down. Keeps switches and plays to another defender, again as Tanto ploughs the furrow and chases down. This lad buggers his touch, which with our man about is a bad move. Tanto robs him on the corner of the box, turns and darts into the box, firing past the keeper. Get in!
With a lead, we dig in, changes are made with Wilson replacing Tanto, Davis for Easty and Dundo for Bennett, returning to the scene of probably his greatest moment ina U’s shirt to put in a shift for the last 10. As time ticks down, the hosts dominate the ball again as they press for an equaliser, but despite a lot of ball in and around the box, they don’t force a single serious save out of Deano, although there are a couple of good blocks thrown in there and some full stretch nuts away from danger. Roared on by us behind the goal they’re defending, the boys stick at it and in the end, it’s enough to get the points. We give the team and the staff the plaudits they deserve for another hard fought win and then we disappear next door to the boozer for a couple of pints to let the crowds disperse. Here, Greek & Lee are delighted they have Espresso Martini on tap. There’s a couple pints had here before it’s more cabs obtained and a trip back into town to grab luggage and then finally hit the digs for the first time. Pete, Robbo and myself are the first there so we get the pick of the gaff. Pete and I of course grab the en suite. Lovely stuff.
We dump shit and as the rest of the crew roll in, Pete, Indy Mr X and I head out for more pints as the other fanny about with showering and other stuff. We find pretty much at the end of our road is a bunch of bars and eateries in the old Cains brewery. Here we find a cellar bar in a small square with a lass outside playing various covers to a small crowd. We hit the bar and after a slow bit of service as the card machine in what’s a cashless pub takes forever to take payment, settle in with pints. Soon after the rest of the mob arrives, another beer in and then we start heading towards town. A wrong turn means we take an age to get back on track with a beer, the only place we find en-route not letting us in and it’s booked out for a ComiCon after party and we’re “not weird enough!” according to the lad on the door! Fuck off mate, we were non-league fans less than a year ago!! We press on and eventually land at the Beehive on the main drag. Pint necked to restart and a quick stop for grotty McDonalds later and we’re off to the Rubber Soul to meet up with Nat & Ossie. Here they give Lee his pair of ‘Popworld’ pants from the night before (don’t ask!) and we get stuck into the night ahead.
Events include a lad with a “I’m 21, fucking hell” badge on (if only you knew mate!), meeting ‘The Macho Man’ who is the barber for all the Tranmere players although this doesn’t impress Loffers who advises him the macho man is actually Randy Savage. Then there’s Mr X suggesting that we should do a Gandermonium Secret Santa, but with the presents being as awful and offensive as possible and an old lass at the bar kicking off after the barman refuses to serve her as she’s way to pissed and her then blaming me and the random geezer next to me for this offense for some reason. Just after 1, we wind down and as we’re about to head for home, Tatey springs back to life and dashes to the bar to get shots in, returning with some minging fireball things. Right, that’s it we’re definitely going! On the way out, Lee and Tatey insist on a night cap in the Cavern, but to some of our relief, the doorman announces they’ve called last orders, so it’s a cab home to bed instead.
Sadly, another effect of ComiCon means that the best train home value wise is at 9.30 in the morning on Sunday. Which when you’ve been on the piss for 14 hours the day before, is a bit of a pain in the arse. Sadly, it means an early rise and a dart into town to breakfast up so we can make the train back to London. Another cab and one that has some soothing Remembrance hymns playing on the radio does the job. Naturally, there’s a few weary faces in the Spoons on Lime Street station as fry ups and bacon rolls are consumed. This doesn’t prevent the abuse from continuing however, that never stops. We also find out that a saucy but ultimately jokey comment from Tatey had seemingly damaged Loffers Uber rating the night before! There’s alarm at a possible train delay, but thankfully ours runs on time and we’re soon on the trundle back to London, with Mr X keeping everyone’s spirits up by constantly reminding us how long was left on the journey. Cheers mate!
Still, on the other hand, we’re cheered by the number of stuff on the socials from the locals, who largely admit we deserved the win and how we’d stuck at the task to get the job done. Which made a pleasant change from the usual whinging about us being dirty direct non-league bastards. See, this is why we get along. They get it.
Back in London, it’s all back to Victoria and a train PROWS-wards for all. Still feeling the lack of sleep and the pace of yesterday, I alight at Hackbridge for HQ and take a cobweb clearing stroll through the park with my headphones. It does the job and I stumble through the door to find Mrs Taxz just putting the kettle on. Fucking right result that.