You know that line in the Who’s “My Generation” – I hope I die before I get old? When you slide casually into your seventh decade without much fuss you tend to think let’s not be too hasty here lads, let’s have a cup of splosh and a Rich Tea in front of the fire and Talking Pictures TV and have a bit of a ponder on it eh? Anyway, that line always spins me back to the release of Quadrophenia back in 1979 and nights in the back row of the Rembrandt Cinema when you could smoke Rothmans and buy those little cans of light ale from the bar. And maybe a Barcardi and coke if you had a girl on the go. Happy days.
You’re probably thinking that as this particular Sutton fixture coincides with my Sixtieth birthday you are going to get little more than a expanded selection of rose-tinted reminiscences from the good old days. And you’d be right. When Taz clocked that I was making one of my rare forays up the A21 to the old stomping ground for Hartlepools he was straight into me. I warned him that I wouldn’t be able to craft these words until the Monday morning as the celebrations would be continuing in Hastings through Sunday and he’d have to take it or leave it. In need of a weekend away from the type face he took it. He knows a good deal when he sees it.
So baby I’m back. Fridays for me these days mean working in our shop down in St Leonard’s, humping stock about, dispensing bonhomie and trying to persuade the good people of the South Coast to part with hard cash for something they didn’t even know they needed in these straightened times. Times are tough and I’m in no doubt that they are going to get tougher for small businesses like ours. So if you are looking for a vintage wireless converted to Bluetooth or something else special for that Christmas gift check out our Instagram at @vintagetotters and help keep an old fella in cigars and stout this winter.
That’s enough advertising for now. Saturday morning I’m up early and rifle through the birthday cards hunting in vain for a postal order or a fiver slipped discretely in the envelope. Fuck all. Not even my stake money for the DILF Bingo (reminder ladies, you don’t actually win a DILF) so I grab a strong mug of splosh and a bit of breakfast and bid farewell to Sid and Mrs Totts and point the van north for the run up to South London. It’s a stunning early autumn morning as I cruise through the Kent Weald and pick up the M25 and cut through down to North Cheam and appointments at Pete’s Yard and Think Vintage in the relentless hunt for stock I can turn a few bob on. Slim pickings today but that’s the way the game goes.
I drop the van off at my sisters and take a stroll down to the Gander where Dirty Barry and Big Malcolm P are already in the swim. Before long we are joined by Keepo, Smarty and Bev The Vegan and I get a full briefing on Sutton’s recent performances. The pub is buzzing and I bump into some Hartlepools fans who seem to know who I am. They don’t seem interested in buying anything though so I leave them to get on with it.
The sun is shining so we head up towards the open air fan zone, dodging past the Eternal Ray Of Sunshine guarding the car park gates and into the thick of it. Sparking up a Monte Cristo Robusto for the occasion I have a good old natter with some of the hardcore about the Clubs difficulties on the road before we move across to the car park for a final pre kick off scoop where I’m delighted to meet for the first time with the legend that is Jimmy Sirrels Lovechild.
JS has driven down from Preston as part of his quest to do the 92. I’m later told that JS doesn’t like having his picture taken as he likes to maintain the old mystique but I have no such qualms and we grab a snap for the old socials which is described by one wag as a moment as significant as the unmasking of Kendo Nagasaki. I’m not going to argue and they say say that you should never meet your heroes but JS turns out to be the top fella you’d hope for. Marvellous.
Soon enough it’s time to head for the turnstiles and we make our way round to the Curva where Crooked Ces is already waving his marked cards about luring in the mug punters and we queue up to be scammed again like the old fools we are. Frakey even keeps his pink Hi Vis on to take part in the DILF Bingo these days, like that’s gonna fucking protect him. He really is old enough to know better. Anyway there’s the usual paying of respects and some singing and then it’s time for some football.
Rose, Milsom, Rowe, Kizzi, Eastmond, Beautyman, Neufville, Randall, Wilson, Bugiel. SUBS: Ward, Thomas, Kendall, Boldewijn, Smith, Barden, Kouassi
Sutton start lively enough but after about fifteen minutes the game slips into a bit of a stalemate with not a lot going on and it drifts on towards half time when DB suggests we move round to the Tardis Terrace to get a better view of the action and a quicker getaway for the post match pint. Makes sense and as the second half gets underway Sutton immediately look like they’ve stepped it up a gear. Donny forces a couple of good saves from the keeper and looks sharp but maybe lacking that little rub of the green that strikers sometimes need but it’s his pull back across the area that opens the door for Randall who is in a rich vein of form and buries the chance. A well deserved lead. Mayhem on the bingo front mind as Scottie who we think has won is over the other side of the ground and Crooked has turned his phone off. Chaos. When will we learn?
Harry doubles the lead with a beautifully timed run that gives him a free header that he nods home with aplomb. Two nil actually flatters Hartlepools at this stage who look dreadful and must be seen to be flirting outrageously with a return to the Bastard League BELT graveyard. Never mind. The whistle blows for full time but we have already made good our escape for a return to the bar. Joined by Tony Bacon we have a couple in the sunshine before decamping to the Allders lounge as a evening chill descends on GGL.
We are rewarded with Mr X and DB attempting to get the TV working with the worst display of fingering I’ve seen since the Saturday nights in the Leatherhead cowshed and DB then decides to up the ante on an official EFL rostrum which gives him a platform from which to advocate the joys of dogging and pensioner sex. Belly nods along sagely while Four Days looks on in disgust. Anyway, enough of this nonsense.
We head back to the Gander where Keepo kindly lays on a much needed finger buffet for the remaining troops and after a couple more pints we call it a night and head off for the march back up to Cheam and I’m back nice and early for a good old kip ready for the return run to Sussex. I pick up a van load of stock from the lock up, collect the Welshman from Chipstead and I’m back for round two of the sixtieth shenanigans in time to catch the second half of the Brentford game on the box with the Polegate U’s and the Freak of Nature – lads I grew up with.
All in all a top weekend with the Sutton lads doing me proud. Back to local football for the next few weeks. I will see you soon enough me old chinchillas.