Ten years. It’s a long time you know as anyone who’s been sent down for ‘Riot’ or ‘Fraud by false representation’ will freely attest to I’m sure. Well, it’s also a long time to be operating a shit football blog too. Yes folks, Gandermonium 2.0 is 10 years old with the first blog(s) of the ‘new’ site going live on the 2nd of December 2012. Staines away and a 4-1 win. Juan (remember him?) did the match spiel and Dukey did the drinking bit as we opened with a an odd 2 part affair. Yeah, we had no idea what we were doing back then. Some might say it’s not changed a bit.
Still, I think it’s an appropriate point to advise you all that we’re probably gonna be largely knocking this all on the head come May time. The fact of the matter is, no one reads stuff any more as our plethora of stats provided by the Googles proves with readership down a good 50% on just 4 seasons ago. It’s all tik toks and no attention span these days. Podcasts are also massively the in thing now, mainly as you can pop those in your lug holes and do something else as you take it in. Us? We’re the stone age in comparison. It’s also mainly the fact that as already covered on here, it’s pretty just me left standing from the crew that made this West Sutton’s Number one unofficial Sutton United outlet since the relaunch. And no matter what people say, I simply can’t put out enough quality material over a 50 something game season to keep people interested. That was the key to why we got any audience in the first place, lots of different viewpoints rather than the same dickhead wittering away every week.
Now, before you start crying, wailing, tearing your hair out and stuff, I’ll clarify the above by saying I doubt the site will stop entirely and it certainly won’t be taken down. It’ll at the very least remain online, staining the toilet bowl of the internet like one of those stubborn skid marks you just can’t piss off the porcelain no matter how many times you try. A sort of testament to our sad wasted lives, binge drinking and shite football. We’ll probably still do the odd away day entry, as and when a good one presents itself, as well as any trips abroad for weird football and I’m sure at some point the likes of Totts will pop up another odd football history entry. But suffice to say, come the end of the season, the days of every single game covered will be done and dusted. Still, it’s been a good run. As it stands, since that day 10 years ago, we’ve not yet failed to cover a competitive game on here (bollocks to friendlies!). That’s a lot of shit about a lot of shit football. And as always, you are very welcome.
However, until the end of the season, we will plough on as before and see where this campaign takes us. Which of course seamlessly brings me to this week’s nonsense of the away game up in Carlisle. This was a bit of a faff I’m honest and I don’t envy the travel sec one bit when he’s got to book ones like this with industrial action to consider, Avanti Trains timetable being about as reliable and predictable as Kanye West and well, our general idiocy. This one was no different with the upward journey booked weeks ago, but the home leg only acquired less than 10 days before kick off. This also meant we’d be heading up Friday and back Sunday. And we all know how the 2 nighters tend to pan out generally. Still, at least no one trots out the old “We’ll just have a couple of pints and a curry” bullshit, so we’re at least coming to learn our lesson there and be more honest with ourselves. It’s a start I suppose.
The initial party is just myself, Mr X, Greek, Robbo and Indy going around the houses Friday afternoon with a rattler up via Crewe. A late addition will be 4Days who’s jetted back from the World Cup due to Wales not only shitting the bed, but also the couch, the dining room table and the front porch out in Qatar. Still, we’re sure he’s had a ball drinking 10 quid pints of Heineken wilst his team utterly disappoints him. He’s on an early one out Saturday morning and will join us in the boozer, as awayday tradition dictates, for 11am. Having been in the office and frankly doing as little as possible until I bugger off at 1.30, I tip out the door and head to Bank for the Northern to Euston. With the train at 2.45 and arriving almost an hour before, I raid M&S for grub and a couple of train cans before of course doing what any sensible person would do with the remaining time and head for the Tap and a pint. Here I prop up the bar supping whilst a steady stream of Northerners enter, buy a round and to a man bung the barman one for his troubles. Bloody tourists, coming round here with their warmth and generosity. Pint supped, I grab my gear and find the rest of the mob assembled in the usual spot out front of the station.
Our train is busy but we get a block of seats together and settle in to feed our faces, open a can or two and with the wonders of modern technology, try to take in the last 2 games in one of the World Cup groups. This is semi successful as Mr X’s tablet largely stays watchable for most of the game, whilst Robbo’s fruit based gear constantly dies and buffers. And on the odd occasion it does show any footage, it’s of a quality seen on a pirate VHS tape copy of ‘Debbie Does Dallas’ that’s done the rounds at the local a few times. This is of course the first live footage I’ve seen of the competition and quite frankly, if I’m gonna break my Boycott for anything, seeing that prick Suarez in tears over Uruguay’s exit was definitely the right moment. The journey goes smoothly and we chat with a Derby supporting lad and also earn a free can of Bud from a lad alighting at an earlier stop. “Probably works for InBev” I joke “and that’s how they’re disposing of their Qatar stockpile!”. Greek also tucks into several cans of ‘White Claw’ which is basically watered down vodka and tonic, as well as a bottle of the foulest fruity cider shit to date. I dread to think what his insides look like. Eventually, we pull into Crewe for our change and Mr X puts his brand new tablet into the cans bag. “You’ll regret that!” Greek advises. “It’s got a case on it” shrugs the man of mystery. Tut tut.
At Crewe, our decision not to go Avanti is largely justified by the raft of lateness and other stuff. We don’t escape though, oh no, as our train to Carlisle will now be terminating early at Preston due to a ‘fault on the train’. Clearly whatever’s wrong only becomes an issue above a certain latitude as the fucking thing is able to do the 60 miles between here and our new destination just fine. Wankers. Not wanting to be stuck, we jump on and hope that there’s an alternative from Preston and sure enough, there’s a Trans Pennine due in shortly after us that’ll finish the job off. Sweet. When this arrives though, there’s a LOT of people from our service looking to get to Lancaster and it’s gonna get packed so we jump on and take a punt that the guard will sack off enforcing first class. We’re sort of right, as he waits until we tip out at Lancaster before checking tickets and politely advising we move down one. Yeah, fair enough mate. The rest of the trip goes fine and we eventually tip out at our destination just the 10 minutes late. Right, digs check in and back to the pub right?
With Greek and Robbo having sorted their own digs, the rest of us head off to the B&B up Botchergate that Mr X found us. We’re not expecting much, but we find a pleasantly modern gaff run by an older lady and with all our crap sorted and breakfasts booked, we’re heading back the way we came to the Griffin, a pub we visited a LOT last time we were up here. A quick round is bought and after finding out we’ve missed out on grub, Greek immediately dumps a full rum and coke over Ossie, much to her delight. We sup a pint and watch Cameroon v Brazil, which provides an odd moment when we cheer the former’s late winning goal. A local bloke, out with his missus no less, takes exception to us supporting black people and cheers Aboubakar’s subsequent red card for taking his shirt off in celebration. When this doesn’t get a bite, he starts loudly commenting about ‘Sutton going back to the Conference’ having obviously spotted Indy’s t-shirt. He gets ignored again, barring the odd mutter of “What a cunt” under our breath. Best we move on I think! We’re sure his good lady was delighted with his carry on.
Next up we pop to a little bar we did last year, it’s busy with lots of sprightly young things so we only stay for the one before backtracking and whilst we decide where to go next, hit Spoons for a couple. This is full of early Xmas do’s, the music’s pretty loud and there’s a disturbing video on the screens that seem to display the twitching feet of Santa after he’s been unfortunately garrotted coming down a chimney, so we move on again although not to the Cumberland which I and Dr Bell found entertaining last year and everyone else hated. Mainly as it had it’s licence removed back in March apparently. Shame! So we head to DeJa Vu over the road as it’s advertising 80’s and other cheesy shite music and to be fair, the first few tracks after arrival are most entertaining, however they’ve somehow managed to make the interior of the building colder than it is outside and we’ve ended up with the wobbliest table in the world. With the clock striking 11 and the horrendously cheerful warblings of S Club 7 echoing naround our cheesy music soundtracked meat storage facility, Mr X and I decide we’ve had our fill for a Friday night in Carlisle and bid goodnight to the rest of the party and head for some food over the road before stumbling back to our B&B. Burgers obtained, we munch as we walk. Well, I do at least. The Man of Mystery instead spends the whole time moaning about how hot his food is every time he attempts to take a bite. So much so it’s a blessed relief when we get back indoors and go our separate ways to our rooms.
The following morning, I join Indy & Mr X for breakfast. As we scoff, he who shall not be named enquires after his new fondleslab that he seems to have mislaid. The last I’d seen of it was in the cans bag, so I can only assume he’s a total idiot and it’s in his bad or it got tossed with the empties when we got off at Carlisle. Oh dear. After refuelling, I take a stroll to clear the head and walk up into town on an important mission. Ossie had spotted a sweetshop in the main square selling all manner of American goodies and these included Almond M&M’s. Which Mrs Taz fucking loves. How much does Mrs Taz love them I hear you ask? Well, for her birthday last month I got her a new mobile and also some of the aforementioned sweeties courtesy of Greek doing a business trip to America. The confectionary was far more well received than a couple hundred quids worth of Samsung, I can tell you. With this in mind and the fact that this variety can’t usually be obtained here in the UK, any sighting has to be seriously investigated given their ridiculous value in Brownie points. Gold? Fuck off. Diamonds? Stick ’em up you bollocks mate. All about the almonds innit. Having liberated the geezer’s last 3 packets, I dump them back at the B&B and head out to meet the others at Spoons for 10.30.
Here I find Indy and we’re soon joined by Greek and Robbo. The Souvlaki muncher is straight on the nearby fruity and within 2 minutes a loud “Ahem!” is heard and we look up to see the prize pot on screen counting all the way up to a £100. Fucking hell, West Sutton’s answer to Rishi Sunak’s at it again and taking fortunes out of local Northern economies. Mr X soon appears and is unsurprised to hear of the development. The Wing Commander pops over to say hello and then 4Days rocks up dead on 11 fresh from the smoke and we celebrate his return from the desert by buying him a ‘welcome home’ pint of Budweiser, seeing as he’d unfortunately been denied the pleasure by the Qatari’s 11th hour decision not to sell really fucking shit beer in the stadiums. Naturally he’s delighted by our considerate gift and promptly orders up a Guinness after telling us to “get fucked”. With the early kick off for this one due to the fact England were expected to be rubbish and thus playing today instead of tomorrow, we hit a couple here and instead wander down to the ground so we’re close and there’s no faffing. Greek and Robbo cab it whilst the rest of us take the short walk through the back streets marvelling at the still cobbled roads and all the rows of nice old Georgian town houses that probably cost less than my tiny flat back at home.
Rose, Kizzi, Milsom, Lovatt, Eastmond, John, Boldewijn, Neufville, Bugiel, Wilson, Randall SUBS: Ward, Fadahunsi, Gambin, Kendall, Smith, Hart, Kouassi.
A quick pint in the fanzone is had and we spot guest of honour Jimmy Glass mooching about and getting selfies with fans. “He’s from Epsom you know. Should be in with us fucking lot” I mutter. We spot some of the Yoof that have made it up and 4Days scores a comp off one after Omar’s sorted them out. He’s made up by this mainly as it saves him 24 quid, which is about 10 pints up here. That and he’s just dropped about 3k on 2 weeks holed up in Dubai of course. Drinks downed, we make a move and amble round to the away end to score us some Scotch pies, a large quantity of which were consumed here last season. Fucking love a scotch pie we do. Right, I suppose we should get this League 2 stuff over with eh?
The first half isn’t a classic, but it’s not rubbish either. Two fairly matched sides go at it and largely fail to produce much in the final third. They have a couple of breaks on us that look dangerous but are either snuffed out or wasted and we can’t quite get that final ball right despite having a decent share of the ball. You can certainly tell why they’ve drawn a lot of games this season. Having played fairly well for half an hour, we then of course concede from nowhere. A short corner ends up being clipped into the box and as our lot all appeal for offside, the no9 pops in and gives it a little nod past the exposed Rose and we’re behind. Cock it. This has proven to be an issue this season, as generally going behind means trouble. And so it seems as for a few minutes, the hosts look their liveliest and have a couple of other little sighters that cause a couple of sweary mutters in our section. However, we stick at it and with the break looming, we do a goal thing!
A ball forward is chased down by Wilson and with a little space he pulls it back to Randall arriving late. His first shot from about six yards is beaten out by the keeper, but the ball rebounds to the Sutton man and he makes no mistake the second time of asking, poking the ball into the onion bag. Perfect timing lads! Right, time to celebrate with another Scotch pie! Wait, what? They’ve fucking run out?? Are you serious? Jesus wept, there’s only 70 of us, have a word! Well, that’s my weekend fucking ruined I can tell you. Although spirits are lifted slightly by the revelation that Ryan from the Yoof not only missed the goal, but them missed the replay on the screen in the concourse by going for a piss. Tsk, I dunno. Kids these days eh? No patience, no patience at all.
From the restart, we’re not looking too bad and Wilson stabs home after Kizzi nods down a corner, but the ref reckons Joe has fouled their lad and chalks it off. Steve watching online however thinks this is bollocks on Whatsapp. Omar also tries a cheeky one from out on the touchline in front of us, having a low shot towards the near post after their keeper’s wandered a little, but it hits the net the wrong side of the post sadly. They also have one ruled out for offside at the other end. Apart from this though, there’s not much going on and it’s all a bit stop start. They’re certainly not really that good and offer no real urgency or serious pressure as the clock ticks down. To up the entertainment, we shithouse the last 10 and get the locals all boo-y before we earn a fine away point. Team clapped off, we head out in search of pints as the sun sinks towards the horizon. Not fancying their bar, we head over the road to the Beehive with the local scrotes chirping away as we go. “Yer shit” being the general jist of their top notch, Class A banter. First point you’ve had off us ever lads, so you enjoy yerselves. Now fuck off home back to your FIFA career mode ya fucking virgins.
In the Beehive we sink a couple and take in USA v Holland on the box. The Dutch seeing off a spirited but limited Yank effort. With the game done, Greek Ossie and Robbo cab back to town whilst we walk back the same way we’d come. Mr X disappears to get changed whilst I and Indy accompany 4Days to the 301 Miles pub on the station for a beer and to wave him off on his Avanti train back to London. Which is cancelled, with all the others running late or otherwise messed up. Seriously, there’s fucking crypto Ponzi schemes out there that genuinely try harder not to look like absolute charlatan rip off merchants. Absolute joke. The Welshist’s mood is further soured by some weird local law meaning he can’t buy a take out for the train home as he won’t be leaving before 6. Carlisle’s fucking weird. Having downed two, Indy and I abandon our colleague to his train fate and return to the Griffin to catch up with the others and scran up.
Food sorted, we have a couple here and the place is certainly pretty lively and full of all sorts of characters, but mostly performative pretend boozer wankers. Like the bunch of LADS LADS LADS who come in, order pints, drink no more than a mouthful, down a shot each and spend 20 minutes half wrestling each other before leaving. Mr X also meets an interesting bunch at the bar with some Irish lads who are our celebrating the purchase of a cow. One that cost them the sum of 11 grand apparently. “That a good price for a cow then?” enquires the Mysterious One. We’re intrigued, so do some asking Jeeves on the Googles coming up with a price of 3.43 a kilo. Which would put that moo moo in the region of almost 3000kgs. “Is that big for a cow?” we wonder. “Do fuck off” declares Greek, bringing the discussion to a close. From here, Mr X, Indy & I head for a couple of boozers in town and Robbo ditches as his hotel’s on the way. We first hit the Boardroom, a nice old spot that’s ticking along nicely with locals and with far less arseholes than the Griffin. We move onto the Sportsman next where Greek & Ossie had planned to join us to watch a band, but apparently it’s LADS central in there too and they’ve ditched. We walk past, see it’s packed and we too toss it off and much like last season, return inevitably to the well located Griffin.
Here we see out the night as more oddballs and drunk twats swirl around us. Here Mr X shows that Mark Kermode is in no danger as a movie critic when he recommends us a film that he can neither recall the name of or anyone who was in it. “It’s got that bloke in it, you know the one!”. Oh yeah, him! Yeah, he was great in the that other thing and the stuff before it. I also stumble into the most coked up scene in a gents khazi I think I’ve ever witnessed as two lads clearly just fresh out the cubicle jabber away at a million miles an hour and their mate snorts loudly before gagging his load up and shouting for another go from his jabbering mates. A truly wondrous example of nightlife in modern Britain and no mistake! Back downstairs, in a moment of paranoia Mr X checks the trains for the morning to confirm the time and then finds that we actually don’t have one and will instead need to get a bus replacement some of the way, leaving a good half hour earlier. Fucks sake. I’m going to bed. I fucking hate buses at the best of times, but knackered and hungover? Bag of shite.
An early breakfast the next day helps with a slightly fuzzy head and Mr X again enquires after his absent Samsung tablet. I head back up, get showered and handing my key in thank the landlady for a very nice stay indeed before heading out into a murky Sunday morning and begin the traipse up to the station. Along the way I pass another clubby gaff that does cover bands it seems, the pick of which being a Slipknot knock off named ‘Slipnowt’. As I head down, Mr X is coming the other way. “Are you sure you don’t have my tablet?” he asks. Jesus fucking christ man! Dejected, he heads on back to the hotel for one last look in his room to make sure it’s not slipped down a gap somewhere. He rejoins us later at the station having come up empty. Sucks to be you mate. Hope you’re insured! Here we hop onto the dreaded bus and trundle out of Carlisle, bound for the mystical ‘Haltwhistle’. Some gaff in the middle of fucking nowhere 20 miles away where our train is starting from. No, I’ve never heard of the bastard before either. I watch some nice landscape slip past as we wind our way along, but in the end fatigue kicks in and I’m being woken from my snooze almost an hour later as we pull into our first change. Haltwhistle station is largely as expected, with nothing more than a nice old Victorian era bridge and signal box, sat 2 miles walk from Hadrians wall. Thankfully our train soon appears so the lack of amenities is a moot point and we board swiftly, settling in for the next leg.
Some more nice scenery slips past the window as we head towards Newcastle, with the train getting steadily busier the closer we get. As we head into Newcastle central, a huge Rainbow brightens up the grey forbidding skyline which provides us a chuckle given who their new owners are. A quick change in Newcastle, grub is grabber, brews are obtained and we’re soon back on the move, this time finally heading South and back to the smoke. It’s a pretty relaxed trip and we all pretty much pull hoods over eyes, chuck in headphones and zone out for three hours or so. Back at Kings Cross with no fuss, the gang scatters as Indy Robbo and Greek head for Vic whilst I and Mr X go Thameslink. He alights at Blackfriars to change for the loop and I’m finally left alone to complete my own journey to East Croydon.
Just after half three, I stumble in the front door at HQ and Mrs Taz is delighted to have her peace and quiet shattered by a tired, still slightly hungover me. Still, that lasts about 30 seconds until I hand her those Almond M&M’s, at which point I become Man of the Year, Nobel Prize and Oscar Winner all rolled into one. Money well spent if you ask me! Shortly after, I check my phone to find a sheepish Mr X admitting “I found my tablet in my bag”.
“You fucking divvy” is about as sympathetic a reply as I can manage in the circumstances.