Bit cold out innit? Sort of weather that makes you question your sanity when you so much as nip to the corner shop or take the dog for a walk round the block, let alone spending a good 100 minutes watching grinding League 2 football of your own free will. Please, no comments as to our mental well being, we’re well aware at this juncture that we’re not the full shilling and that a myriad of therapists couldn’t be of any assistance in claming our fevered shit football minds. Thanks for the concern however.
The sudden turn in the weather of course has the usual effect of kyboshing a load of games up and down the country, but here in the PROWS, it was mildly celebrated mainly as it meant we finally got to use those frost covers the club laid out a no doubt large sum of wedge on 2 summers ago when we went back to an eco friendly playing surface upon joining the FL. Clearly money well spent them, although some cynical sorts out there might comment that their deployment means they’ve now spent more time on the GGL pitch than a couple of our summer signings have. Not us though, oh no. Properly glass half full types we are, no negativity here. Still, it seems they did the job and come half 10 the ref’s done his inspection and ruled the surface playable. Me? I was still in bed with a cuppa. Oh well, s’pose I’d better get up and face the day.
When I leave HQ it’s at least a bright sunny day which helps take the edge off the chill a bit and with the old headphones in, I head down to Wallington Green to catch the X26 into Sutton as there’s oddly no 407 for ages. Little do I know there’s a strike on today and that small detail will bite me on the arse slightly later on. Still, I’m hopping off at the Post Office before too long and making the usual stop for refreshments before making my normal walk to GGL. Along the way, I confuse the acts of eating and breathing and very nearly choke to death on a bit of my sarnie. Not a good look that. Fortunately, there’s no one else around to witness my stupid near death experience and I’m soon back on my merry way, eyes streaming and gasping for breath.
First order of business upon arrival at the PROWS field of dreams is to obtain a couple of briefs for upcoming games at Orient and Crawley. AB is on the job and quick as a flash he’s done the business and lobbed me up some tickets for the combined price of 20 quid. Lovely stuff. As I head for the bar, I stop to pass on greetings of the day to Mr X, who’s loitering in the doorway to the megastore, clearly enjoying a lull in his usual retail whirlwind. As we chat, Keepo rocks up with deposed PROWS President for Life Totts in tow, seems he’s up from his South Coast bolt hole this weekend to sniff out some more old tat to sell. They head for the fan zone and I head for the bar, where I find absolutely no fucker whatsoever present other than Greek, Magnum, Tatey and Ossie tucking into a pre-match lunch. So not wishing to be Billy no mates at the bar, it’s back out into the cold and into the fan zone tent for me.
With a pint sorted, I catch up with Totts, Smarty and and Keepo in the glamping tent as the former munches on a hog roast roll. We’re soon joined by Dirty Barry and he too is tucking into some fodder, complimenting the filling on it’s moist consistency, which of course leads to all present using the word ‘moist’ far too much. It’s quite fitting though given the amount of moisture on the inside of the tent meaning you’re getting dripped on constantly and into your pint. Nice. Any chance we can get any heaters in here?? Even a couple of three bars will do! I fill the mob in on last week’s Carlisle adventures and the lads solid performance, but it’s the Sunday coach trip to Haltwhistle they’re really interested in most of all. Or “That place in middle earth you ended up at” as Totts describes it during conversation.
The returning supreme leader also reveals the less than lucky charm effect DB and Keepo had on his new local side Bexhill when they popped down to visit a few weeks back. “They were unbeaten at home for 3 years until these two wankers turned up!”. Here’s hoping they’ve not recharged their bad Ju Ju batteries since then eh? We also discuss possible plans for next week’s trip to table toppers Orient, not because it’s a big game or anything but because it’s been designated the official ‘Dirty Barry Birthday Bash’ game to celebrate his landmark of turning 70. This is sure to both a joyous occasion as well as a slightly sad one. Why so? Well, joyous because it’s the old bugger’s birthday and sad because it means that he, Dirty Barry, will no longer be the perfect DB age of 69. “At least it’s his real birthday” comments Totts, who reveals that he has an earlier date set on Facebook and is several years younger on there as well. “Guess when the Queen died, he steamed in and nicked that second ‘unofficial’ birthday slot as it was now going spare”.
Not long before KO, we’re joined in the tent by Magnum fresh from lunch and he fills us in on some points from the midweek fans Q&A that a lot of us were unable to make. All very interesting stuff, although the stuff about ‘Championship ready stadium’ sounds all a bit mental to me if I’m honest! Pints supped, we head for the turnstiles and hopefully some scintillating lower half of League 2 association football. On the pitch, Ali Smith replaces and injured Lovatt and whispers are that Harry on the bench should appear for the last 30 or so. Here’s hoping, we really do need some of these injured lads back to give us a lift going into the new year. Inside, the ground looks pretty sparse, but with 2 World Cup games on today including England later on and it being fucking Baltic out here, it probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise a fair few have given it bollocks this afternoon. As we wait kick off, there’s a little drama as Podcast Mike’s nephew Josh suddenly keels over and requires the attendance of the St Johns lads. It seems the return of his favourite Ali Smith was all too much for the poor lad and he disappears off into the warm confines of the stand to be checked over. “Lucky bastard” mutter a few of those still left on the rapidly cooling Curva as the sun gets lower and lower behind the GGL end.
Rose, John, Kizzi, Boldewijn, Milsom, Smith, Eastmond, Neufville, Randall, Bugiel, Wilson SUBS: Ward, Kouassi, Hart, Beautyman, Fadahunsi, Gambin, Kendall.
With the pitch looking a little bobblier than usual, no doubt thanks to the covers being on and the ground staff not getting to work their usual horticultural magic, we take a while to get going as the visitors start bright. Despite this and some tidy looking approach play, they seem to hit the final third and then forget what it was they went there to do, much like me going into the kitchen to make a cuppa and then instead being distracted by the pack of Bacon Tuc I find in the cupboard. As such it’s a poor watch for the first 15 or so before we finally spark into life a little. Their lumbering no.5 clatters into Donovan and cops a yellow for his trouble. Milsom whips in the dead ball from deep and their keeper has to make a fine diving save from Omar’s header. Soon after, the 5’s at it again when he gets done on the run by Eastmond and pulls him down. But for some reason, the ref elects not to give the easiest second yellow ever and just wags the finger at him. “He’ll be subbed at half time” I mutter whilst Mr X adds a “We’re shit against 10 men anyway”.
The U’s grow into the game more from here and a free kick from Enzio is deflected wide off Louis in the box and just out of reach of Easty and then Donovan has a scuffed shot sprawled wide by the keeper. They remind us they’re still about with one break late in the half where the lad curls one far post but it’s just out of reach of the diving team mate arriving late. As the break looms and a stalemate looks likely, so much so we’re checking out the progress of Morocco v Portugal on 4Days phone, a nice dart wide from Josh ends with a half decent cross into the box. Their lad wipes out Omar in the middle but the pen shouts are ignored. The ball is popped back in, causes chaos and a grounded, injured Colchester player nods the ball back into the air where Milsom promptly gets a boot in the fizzog as he goes for the header. Now that is a peno!
There’s a big delay whilst their injured player is seen too, ironically his afternoon ended by his own team mate fouling Omar and causing him to crash into him and as all this is going on, the U’s lads gather around the pen spot to prevent the visiting players from raking it over with their studs. Despite the wait, Milsom places the ball and sends the keeper the wrong way, crashing the kick high into the other corner. Vamos my son! as the returning Totts might say. So, one up at the break, we all mill about stamping our feet to keep warm, or like Greek, head to the bar never to re-emerge. Can’t say I blame him to be honest. I pass the time catching up with Dukey who’s main complaint is that he’s too hot. Although not so warm that his trademark shorts remain at home unworn, so I reckon he was having me on.
As predicted, the visitors remove their walking red card no.5 at the break and replace him with someone less likely to get sent off. Which is a point that must irk their gaffer as early in the 2nd half, we catch them on the break and just as Omar looks to go clear on the run, the 17 cuts him down in full flight and having already been carded for conceding the pen, cops a second yellow and walks. Soon after, we really should put the game to bed when a long free kick from Rose is nodded on by Kizzi, finds Omar and he tees up Ali for the strike but the keeper makes a superb one handed save to tip the shot over. The prick. He’s in action a couple more times as the half grinds slowly onwards, making two regulation stops from ranged hits from Easty and one from Harry later on after he’s replaced Smith in the middle. The half passes so slowly and uneventfully that I think if I were to die anytime soon and have my life flash before my eyes, at least half the footage shown will be of this fucking game.
Sadly though the second won’t come for the U’s, but the visitors have done almost nothing since the red and their one moment comes late on with them loading the bcx from a set piece, but the resulting scrambled effort is well over and we see out the win without too much trouble in the end. Three points on the board, job jobbed. Right, it’s well past 5pm and I have a dinner date with the missus to attend. I’m off! Leaving the gang to hit the warmth of the bar for pints and to await the England game, I join the rest of the crowd in heading out onto GGL. With no trains from West Sutton this weekend (again!) it’s a stroll to Sutton and a bus from there back to HQ. I up the pace to double time and soon some semblance of warmth is returning to my frozen feet. Finally reaching the stop at the top of town opposite the nick, I see there’s a bus due shortly. Top stuff!
Sadly though, this proves to be a lie and after a good 20 minute wait I finally spot the issue on the little time board on the bus stop. There’s a strike on and there’s actually no 407 running at all. Ah bollocks!! Fortunately, a quick check of the interwebs reveals an X26 is due in a few and I instead join the ever growing queue of people waiting for that one around the corner. When it shows up, I head to the top deck for a seat but find I’ve just missed out and with a string of people behind me, I end up spending most of my journey atop the stairs, with the robotic voice of some lass announcing over the PA that there’s ‘no standing on the top deck or stairs allowed’. I beg to differ love. Finally, I escape the cramped confines of my stairway and finish the final part of my journey back out in the cold and one last stroll to HQ.
Upon arrival, I’m expecting to find an expectant Mrs Taz awaiting imminent departure on our cleverly planned “Everyone will be watching the England game, so we can eat out in peace” dinner out. Here though, having taken one look at me coming in with my coat properly zipped up and my hood up over my beanie, she plays her “It’s far too cold and I’m African” joker card and elects to instead stay indoors in the warm and nominates me as chef. Again, I can’t say I blame her. I’m not that keen to head out there again myself if I’m honest.
Guess I’d better get the stove on then & smash out a Spag Bol.