Please don’t hate me mama for what I’m about to do, But the good times we’ve had together are just about now through. Please don’t misunderstand me, I hate to see you cry but I think that it might look better if I told you now goodbye. I’m back on the road again, it’s time I leave you now and maybe I’ll see you next time, that I’m around. Until then I hope your happy baby and good times come your way I’m back on the road again, I’m on my way…..oh hello friend. Didn’t see you there. Hope my little signing wasn’t off putting or offensive to you ears. And yes, we are indeed once more back on the road again this weekend. League 2, she is a calling us and we, as always, must answer. Because we’re idiots.
Before we get to all things Mansfield away however, we must make a little diversion first. On Thursday night I was at a works leaving do as a colleague is moving onto pastures new. And as the beers flowed, old stories were told and lies repeated, I got chatting to another colleague who had recently started popping along to watch Ramsgate in the Isthmian South Eastern as his missus brother has recently joined their side. He was mostly surprised by just how watchable the standard was and not as bad as he’d imagined and that he found being able to watch with a pint. This lead to him saying the last time he’d gone to watch a side regularly was Charlton as he lived near the Valley. “They used to have a really good box to box midfielder. Chunky ginger lad. Oh, what was his name again?” he pondered. It can only be one man “Nicky Bailey?” I offer. “Yeah! That’s him! Wow, you really know your football mate. Nicky Bailey, whatever happened to him eh?”. I can only chuckle. “Do you want the long or the short version?”.
But I digress. Fresh from a weekend off where literally fuck all was done and even less was achieved, we’re all fresh as daisies and hoping that the lads are as well. We’ve 9 to play and several of those games are against sides immediately above us. So if the U’s have any hopes of nicking a play off place, now’s the time to nut up or shut up. As for last Saturday, like I said I did less than zero, but others were minded to get out and feed their addictions regardless. Keepo, DB and a few faces went down to Tooting to marvel at just how bad the Terrors are this season, one that has them staring in the face of the County Leagues and Hackbridge Harry making up endless ’10 inventive ways to top myself’ lists. Elsewhere, as you may have seen on here, some ventured somewhat further afield with Chancellor Oakes heading to York, on a train strike day, for his fix. The man’s bloody mental if you ask me, but you probably aren’t and are just instead waiting impatiently for me to get to the point here. Yes yes, alright. If you insist.
Normally, Mansfield would be a quick run out of London and one of the easier trips of the season, but of course there’s engineering works taking place so our expected 1hr 40 run is now dragged out to nearly 3 hours. God League 2 can really test the old patience sometimes. With this in mind, some of the crew have decided that they’ll make a weekend of it, but with summat going on in Nottingham, they can’t get anything cheap and end up booking in at Mansfield Travelodge, which I’m sure will be delightful. Also, there’s the added reasoning of it being Dukey’s ‘Stagiversary’ as it was about this time last year we did his stag do up here. And he’s even managed to get a pass from the missus to join us for the celebrations. Yes, that’s correct, Dukey, On a proper awayday. Amazing. I should probably also take a moment to let you know that you’ll be hearing from the flat capped one directly this week as he’ll of course be covering the Surrey Cup clash out at Met Police on Tuesday. You’re welcome.
With the usual early start negotiated, I’m out into a blustery morning in time to catch a bus to Croydon, meet Steve and bag the 24 minutes past off East Croydon to St Pancs. Of course, as my bus heaves into sight of my first destination, Steve’s belling me to tell me that’s been binned and we’ll have to get the next one. Marvellous. On the platform, I find our Southampton correspondent sat with his hood up, a large Starbucks on the go and a tired looking little boat race. It seems his 4th early start of the week having ponced off to Napoli for the England game. “Didn’t get stabbed in the buttocks then?” I enquire. As we mill about waiting, we’re joined by Bob & Cathy also heading into town for the 8.21 off St Pancs. So we catch up with them until the train trundles in. As we board and take our seats, Cathy produces two sheaf’s of paper and offers them to the other half. It turns out that they’re another of the number of readers of this horseshit that like to print it out for the purposes of reading it. Very strange. Still, that does at least provide another upside to winding this nonsense back for next season, our indirect carbon footprint should decrease due to less paper wasted as well as less hot air if nowt else. I’m sure the polar bears will be delighted, as well might all those employers whose printers and toner is getting pillaged to feed this practice.
We arrive at St Pancs and we leave Cathy & Bob to hit the platfor whilst I and Steve go looking for breakfast. We plan on M&S but then spot a Greggs and snap up some breakfast baguettes instead and laden with our scoff, we head up to the West Midlands platforms, walking past a far more conveniently placed Greggs to find all the other twats milling about, along with Johnnie from the Yoof. The train gets announced and we all pile on to find that despite reserving seats, West Midlands Rail have fucked that off meaning everyone getting their spots is a nightmare of the usual free for all mixed with people wanting the spot they booked. Is there any train firm on this isle that isn’t an absolute shit show? To make matters worse, none of our carriage lighting works until the driver switches on the ignition. We’re also deafened by the PA announcements by a very loud, direct sounding Notts accented lass. Still, with lights finally on, we leave on time and are soon heading North for what feels like the twlevetyhundredth time this season. As we go, talk naturally turns to pointless bollocks with first Mr X revealing he’s had a full pay out from Northern for the evacuation cabs out of Barrow 2 weeks back and sets out paying those owed. He also reveals the ‘missing ticket’ mystery from the morning of that same trip that cost him a cool 120 quid has also been solved and it turned out that his pre-departure handing out of the tickets was indeed to blame, with the missing set turning up in the possession of 4Days! Thankfully for him, he’s in Croatia with Wales this weekend, so he avoids getting some serious abuse off the travel sec for that little faux pas.
Still, he has agreed to repay the injured parties and this will be done mostly in duty free fags from trips like the one to Croatia. This then leads to it being revealed the allocation is now up to 400 per person and also draws a whinge out of Dukey about his dwindling stocks at home, which are immediately attributed to him not doing many games as he used to so his previous spot at the head of the “Get us some fags” requests queue with the likes of Steve and 4Days when on international duty has been nicked by Mr X. The Scotsman rubs salt in the wound by revealing his own supply is now north of 2000. “Shouldn’t need to buy any packs until Christmas!” he crows. Greek interjects to smooth things over by dishing out the usual supply of Bacon Tuc biscuits from his latest swan off to Cyprus last week. No one piles straight in and it’s soon agreed that they can be enjoyed more properly with a cuppa. These hopes are dashed when Mr X goes on a wander and finds that there is no buffet open on this one. So we just crack the packs open and tuck in as a lass comments about how much she loves Greek’s retro space invaders and Pac Man tattoos. The messed up service means that we have the odd sensation of pulling into Leicester and then reversing back out to get onto the track to Nottingham and this causes some minor “Should we have changed there?” concerns, but there’s no need to worry and eventually we’re dumping out at Nottingham with half an hour to kill before the train to Mansfield.
With our arrival not due until 12 sadly, a vote is taken for cans on the second leg and we all hit up Tesco’s for supplies. Bag of cans secured, we mill about outside as the smokers get their last little fix before we head on and we notice there’s already some Scunthorpe lads about for their game today at County. Seems it’s a Non-League Day sell out at the Meadow with 1700 away fans due in. This would probably explain the small army of plod currently mooching around the place. Nicotine levels topped off, we head for the next rattler and are amused to find we’re being transported to our destination by some raggedy arsed old Southern stock. How do we know this? Well, it’s still in their colours and the ‘West Midlands Railway’ text has just been slapped on the side over the clear outline of Southern’s logo. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was one of our stickers in the fucking bogs TBH. As we wait to depart, the first main service from Scunny rolls in and their chants of “Iron Iron” as they go up the platform provides a pleasant soundtrack to our on board announcements. Part of which are the guard advising that the trains back out of Mansfield tonight are dry and that the BTP do enforce it. Cheers for the heads up fella!
The trip to Mansfield is uneventful and we pull in at pretty much dead on 12. We ditch the hotel gang and us day trippers in myself, Steve and Indy make for the Railway pub nearby for the first pint of the day. The place is filling up nicely when we arrive and we get stuck into the beers. Robbo is the first in from the overnighters, followed by Magnum and Mr X. As we await the remainder, we get chatting to a local lad who amongst other things, gives us a nugget of local info about the gaff we’re currently in. “They buried a bloke alive out in the garden once” he declares “Was a world record attempt. He managed summat like 90 days or daft like that”. Despite our “Did they bollocks” look on our faces, he’s adamant and only terrible mobile signal stops us Googling it there and then. But we’ll check it, you just mark my words! Eventually Greek and Dukey appear and it seems the latter’s been a nuisance at the hotel, putting Greek in the lift to transport the groups luggage to Ossies room for storage, he’s pulled the tried and tested ‘Press every button in the lift’ trick meaning his trip via the stairs is completed way quicker than the lift that has to stop at each and every floor on the way to the top. You can take the boy out of the group of twats, but you can’t take the twat out of the boy it seems. We down these and head for the Byron next on the town square. Here I’m conversing via text with an old Sunday football colleague from back home who lives in these parts now. And like a twat I tell him we’ve gone to the ‘Bedford’. It takes a short while for me to realise my mistake and by the time I do, Greek’s suffered a rare defeat to an awayday fruit machine and half my pint’s done!
So, I elect to stay for another to catch up with my mate and hand over the whip to Dukey for the mob to head to the Garrison just up the hill. I grab another Guinness and settle in to wait for Gregg to show up whilst a few Stags fans wonder why there’s one Sutton fan stood on his own in the middle of the gaff. Fortunately my wait isn’t long and Gregg rocks up with his step daughter Amy and we catch up on old times over a beer. With a pint done, I check where the others are and it seems they’re only just going to the Garrison after instead heading into the Market Tavern for one. So I leave Gregg and Amy to head to the ground while I catch up with the rest of the gang. Strolling across the square I note the Market Tavern is definitely a ‘shit Greek pub’ in that they’ll only have gone in at his suggestion cajoling. And on the other side I pass what appears to be a second hand mobility scooter dealership on the edge of the Saturday market. “Low miles this one mate. Only one little old lady owner”. In the Garrison, the rest have pints and I join them where they bemoan the fact that the Market Tavern was not only shite but by far the most expensive pub of the day, putting a big dent in the whip. Idiots! Here, we get the team news and it’s not great to be honest.
It seems the choice to give Easty the night off against Grimsby to avoid a 10th yellow of the season before the deadline is turning into a belter as we not only lost that one to their reserves, but he’s pulled up in training with a hamstring injury this week. So he’s out. Also missing are Angol and Dennis it seems, again, injured in training. So a tough job just got tougher it seems. Still, the mood is improved slightly when one of JR and Greek’s stupid horse bets actually comes in for the first time ever. Pints done, it’s time to head off for the game and we set off down the hill on the walk down to the ground. We also need to find our contact Phil there as he’s got a couple of our tickets! This proves to be easy peasy and we find him stood by the turnstiles, beer in hand. “Are you sure you should have that out here?” I wonder as I collect my brief. Inside, I grab a pie for some soakage and catch up with Keepo and co while I munch. The lucky bastard’s basically on a freebie today as Avanti refunded his entire fare from Barrow, not just the portion to Lancaster and they’ve paid out £100 for his cab after the driver just gave him a blank receipt card to fill out himself! I dunno, some people eh? Fed, we head into the stands in time to witness a slightly pissed looking lad being escorted out by stewards and old bill. He’s having a good day clearly.
Rose, Kizzi, Milsom, Goodliffe, Rowe, Ajiboye, Beautyman, Smith, Randall, Bugiel, Wilson SUBS: House, Hart, Dundas, Gambin, Kasimu, Boldewijn, Kouassi
I’ll be honest here, the game isn’t great. The hosts start strong and put us under early pressure but without creating anything of note and as time passes we get more and more involved, but we again just seem unable to deliver a decent final ball be it a cross or pass and some promising looking raids come to nothing. The only events of note are Rowe getting a cut from a clash of heads that sees their lad subbed and right near the break and Ajiboye needing treatment right on the touchline which turns out to be a dislocated thumb and he’ll fail to reappear for the restart. The rest of the contest is pretty dire with the ref not really helping matters and continually blowing us up for every little thing whilst they’re allowed to do largely whatever they wish. Given it’s apparently the cunt who made the trip to Stockport utterly pointless with his early red, it’s no surprise that Omar is a focus of his and it’s even less surprising when he picks up a yellow shortly before half time despite having been knocked all over the shop for most of the half.
At the break I head down just to stretch the legs and find Mr X thrusting a bottle of Carling my way. “Sorry, I got carried away”. Aye, cheers. Love me a bit of Carling I do mate. The second half is a mirror of the first with us starting strongly and then the game fading out. We do at least create more clear cut than they do, Ben Goodliffe having a header hacked off the line early on and then soon after, bulleting a back post nut just over. Our return from set pieces like this really is poor at the moment it must be said, especially for a team that isn’t short on height and in a season where we’ve found goals generally hard to come by. Again the half if very stop start thanks to cunto the clown in the middle and as time runs down, us day trippers are concerned that we’ll finish too late to make the dash to the station for the 12 minutes past 5 back to Nottingham. As we eye the time, there’s another removal from the crowd up behind us, as a young lad looking green around the gills is led out. It turns out this kid’s yacked up all down the back of B-Team Beckett and his nice white jacket. Oh dear! I’m sure he’ll be fucking delighted by that and sod sitting near him on the coach home after!
Despite a couple of last ditch clearances in our box, the 0-0 is pretty inevitable and the locals are unhappy at the final whistle that they’ve singularly failed to create a serious chance of note against teeny tiny little old Sutton. Unlucky lads. We give the lads a clap and then I, Indy and Steve set off for the station leaving the overnighters to go get checked in before they cab back to Nottingham at about 6pm. As we go, we catch up with Porn Star and Nutsack, the latter revealing that Johnnie from the Yoof had travelled to Napoli during the week with some stab proof underpants. And not only that, had tested them out beforehand! The mind fucking boggles. On the platform the train rolls in on time and handily is a proper shitter of a two carriage affair. Everyone piles in proper London commuter style and it’s a full house the whole way back to Notts. “Good luck policing that no cans bollocks on this one!” I comment to Indy. I pass the time chatting to Phil and Porn Star on the run back and also find out that the kid who sicked up on Beckett was the younger brother of the lad we saw getting binned off before kick off. Quite the day out that lads! Back at Nottingham, we get our skates on and head round the corner to the Canal House for a much needed pint. It’s busy, but not crazy and with it still reasonably warm out, we bag a table outside and await the catch up of the night shift.
They roll in shortly after half 6 and we reconsolidate the whip and get more pints in to pass the time before our train home at just after 8 and their night out on the tiles begins. Shortly before the hour, we bid our farewells and leave them to it, whilst I, Steve and Indy go in search of scoff and cans. I leave them to bag a takeaway from a chippy we’d eyed up earlier whilst I hit up Tescos for cans and with supplies sorted, I hang about waiting for them on the concourse. As we hit the platform, we find Porn Star and co here wondering if the train parked on the platform is the London service. This is odd, as they should be well on their way home by now. “Fucking missed it didn’t we mate!” chuckles Porn Star as we board. Nutsack is doubly unimpressed as it seems his prized flat cap has gone astray at some point between the boozer and the unsuccessful run for the train. Still, it seems they had wandered out of Tescos with a 6 pack with one thinking the other had paid for it shortly before, so it seems this might have been the universe hitting back. “Sounds like Karma to me mate” I reassure the bare headed Nutsack. We get stuck into our grub and I have to say, they’re some of the best chips I’ve had in donkeys. The portion size is bloody huge, so large that it’s actually distorting the shape of the Styrofoam container they’re in and I wave the white flag with fair few remaining having decided that reaching a BMI of ‘30% potato’ was more than enough for one night.
As per, the chatter back is total bollocks. The other lads had met some old boys off to watch Redditch pre-game in Notts, althought they weren’t entirely sure who apparently. “It begins with a B” was the best they could muster. A quick Google reveals the answer to be Basford, but all that leads to is more questions. Such as “Where’s fucking Basford??”. Whilst I have signal, I take a moment to look up the earlier ‘bloke buried alive in a pub garden’ claim from the Railway and this reveals it is indeed bang true! Apparently in August 1998, some madman buried himself alive in a box in the pub’s garden. And for a staggering 142 days! Spent Xmas down there, the fucking lot. Click HERE if you think I’m talking bollocks. Turns out his mum had done something similar for like 100 days previously so it appears this sort of nonsense runs in the family. “Doesn’t say a lot for the town if someone would rather be buried alive than live in it normally” suggests Steve. Quite. Also online are the usual FIFA virgins crying about ‘dirty, nasty Sutton’ despite the fact we had more possession, made and completed more passes, had more shots and ones on target than their shite. This league really is full of absolute wet blankets, even more so than the National. Stop fucking beating it off to Football Manager and Copa90 docs on Youtube lads and watch the fucking games ya fucking one eyed, xG obsessed, Trequartista fannies.
Despite being late leaving Leicester, we make up the time and arrive surprisingly early back into St Pancs, so much so we’re left swiftly downing our last cans after thinking we had loads of time to spare. We wave off Porn Star and co whilst they decide what they’re doing and head for the Thameslink to get back South of the river. Here Steve and I bid farewell to Indy, as he waits for a Sutton service and we hop on the first one back to East Croydon. Alighting, there’s annoyingly no buses showing on the app and as we hit the top of the ramp, a tram pulls out. Bollocks. As we debate what to do from here, a 410 appears from nowhere and we leg it over the road to board our bus shaped saviour. 15 minutes later, I’m sans Steve and on my front doorstep just the sixteen and a half hours after leaving. Christ these days just never end.
Right, If you’ll excuse me, it’s time to shed some potatoes I think.