With Easter games against Stockport and Bradford having yielded no points and our hoped for Play Off charge ending much like that one the Light Brigade are fairly well known for (and judging by our latest injury list, just as many casualties), we’ve now entered the home straight of the season with little to really play for other than pride and securing a top 10 finish. Although with the sort of oppo we’ve yet to face, we could have a say in matters at either end of the table, but this is looking more and more like it’ll play out in the traditional manner as back in the old pre-play off Isthmian days where anyone needing points forms an orderly queue and has them presented on a silver platter, nicely gift wrapped in lovely glittery Amber and chocolate paper with the minimum of fuss.
Today’s clash is no different in this respect, as league leaders Orient are in town. Sadly, what was looking a properly tasty clash a month ago as we had one of the best runs of form in the country since the turn of the year is not the case now, as our once again depleted squad means that as with the clash at Brisbane Road they’ll be taking on a less than full strength U’s outfit and we’ll simply be trying to restrict them and see if we can nick a point. They’ve also added incentive, as a range of results going their way could mean that it was possible for them to confirm promotion today. Most of us hoped this wouldn’t be the case, as 1200 East End barrow boys have a pearly knees up on our lawn would not be conducive to an enjoyable weekend. Having the video clips re-run on the socials all week of that bit of keeper keepie uppie that gifted them 3 huge points on the way to the National title here has been bad enough as it is.
With a short week at my back and full on “I really can’t be fucked” mentality engaged here at HQ over the Easter period, this meant we had let some chores slip with the ‘food in the fridge’ one being the main victim of mine and Mrs Taz’s collected lethargy. So because of this, there was to be no regular home game lie in for my good self this week and instead I was up, showered and out to trudge around Lidl’s for essentials to make sure I and her ladyship did not starve to death this week. It’s not all bad though, as it means I at least get to have a little wander through the myriad of tat they stock in the middle of the store and view all the stuff I absolutely don’t need but definitely would like to have. Like an Airfix kit of a Spitfire. Or a butane powered soldering iron. Lovely stuff! With all the grub sorted and, miraculously, no pointless shit purchased, I’m back at HQ soon after with my feet up and a cuppa on the go before I head out for the game.
With the usual transport on the blink again today, I instead take the opportunity to have a stroll down with some music on and get the X26 instead into town. As the bus swings past the Police Station, I notice that the old Securicor HQ on the corner is now in an advanced state of being dismantled, no doubt so they can build a few hundred more 400k flats that absolutely no fucker round here wants or can really afford. Hopping off at the Post Office, I make my usual detour to Greggs, snaffle a snack and a Ribena and begin my walk to the Republic. Outside Spoons, the local po po are on full alert for the 1200 travelling in from E12 it seems as 3 wagons are parked up with a 4th tucked away at the end of the road. A nice stroll down in the sun and before I know it, the driveway at GGL beckons. Here, as usual, my first point of contact of the day is the ever cheerful Frakey. “No Goodliffe today” he advises after we’ve exchanged pleasantries. Oh fucking marvellous. Turns out his missus gave birth last night and he’s off doing daddy things as you would expect. Congrats and all Ben, but that doesn’t make our task here today any easier.
I don’t see any faces in the fan zone so carry on to the bar and bump into Magnum along the way. We head indoors for a pint and return outside to enjoy the weather and again, as on Friday, I find myself chatting with Keepo and Orient ST holder Spennymoor Pete. It seems his compadres from back home last week thoroughly enjoyed their day with us, which is always nice to hear. As per usual, the chatter in largely inane and I get a couple of tales from him about his lad doing games with him following Newcastle as a kid. Including one where a boozer where no kids were allowed saw him and 20 other away fans deny any knowledge of who the child in the corner belonged to as well as his lad shrugging “Dunno” when asked who his old man was. 4Days and Lil’ Chris soon join the throng, with the Welshman relieved he’s not chosen his retro SUFC trackie top to wear today as the combo with the ’89 retro shirt would have clashed with my own choice and meant one of us having to go home and change. Well, at least that’s what Mrs Taz indicates is the proper behaviour when such a thing occurs.
As kick off approaches, people slowly drift on in and with 10 to the commencement of the contest, I too down my pint and make a move. Annoyingly, there’s a large queue formed with runs almost all the way back to the megastore. “Is that the fucking queue to get in?” enquires Mr X from the threshold of his little retail kingdom as I pass. Yep. Seems so! But knowing the lie of the land round here, I take a chance that these are people who’ve collected from the booths near the shop and just not bothered looking closer. As suspected, the second set of turnstiles is pretty dead and before you can say “There are other gates you know” I’m in and heading for the Curva. It’s a busy one today, with the away end packed to the rafters and a good few in the home stands too. Shame that all we’re about to serve up is hard graft and disappointment!
Rose, Kizzi, Hart, Rowe, Boldewijn, Neufville, Ajiboye, Smith, Beautyman, Bugiel, Angol SUBS: Dickinson, Dundas, Gambin, Milsom, Dennis, Wilson, Kouassi
From the off, the visitors are on the front foot and for the first several minutes, we’re having to do some defending in and around our own box. Their no.7 Smyth is causing Hart issues early on and Yellow shirts putting their bodies on the line and getting a head in keeps the O’s at bay. As the half ticks along, we slowly show some life and Neufville really should show a bit more composure with a sighter in the box, but he rushes the effort and blazes well over. Still, keep it tight early lads, let’s keep ’em frustrat….and fuck my life, just forget what I said eh? The ref gives a soft free kick 25 out in a central position and their lad whips it over the wall, off the bar and into the back of the net off the shoulder of the beaten Rose. From here, we struggle to make a lot of impact on their goal and a little over 10 minutes later, we’re basically done already. We give their full back too much time and space to cut in off the Rec touchline and he bends a cracking effort beyond Rose into the far corner for 2-0. Right, who fancies doing the honours with the fork?
From here, it’s damage limitation largely, with Rose making 2 decent stops first from Smyth in on the overlap and then when a big boot down the middle from the keeper sends their lad in behind 1 on 1, but Jack stands up and makes the block to keep the deficit to two. At the other end, their keeper largely remains untroubled and any time we do get a set piece, it’s atrociously executed. That and the fact that despite not having anyone to take a long throw, we insist on Enzio looping it in to Omar completely shut out by two blue shirts. Can we perhaps mix it up a touch sometimes lads? Still, we keep it to just two at the break and there’s no one here who thinks we’ll get anywhere near challenging that lead 2nd half. During the break we’re joined by Meggsy, a former resident in these here parts who’d been to a few Sutton games in the past and an Orient fan. He takes the piss over the score, but I and Mr X send him on his way in his completely inconspicuous red fucking jacket by threatening to grass him up to a steward.
The second 45 is a little better as we push up the pitch a bit more and show a touch more life in midfield, but I’m not entirely sure that’s all of our doing and not them taking their foot off the gas a touch in full knowledge we’ve had a grand total about 3 shots on target in about 5-6 games now. Still, an early run from Enzio out wide forces them to defend his low cross in and soon after, another little dart and cross picks out Angol near post, but he can’t quite guide his glancing header onto the target. Omar makes the most of another poor set piece delivery to hook a loose ball on the turn just wide of the post with the keeper stranded. But that’s about the best of it to be fair. They meanwhile waste a couple of sitters, first Kizzi thumping a pass at Enzio from a few yards away costs us possession and a lurking attacker runs in forcing Rose to save the 1 on 1 again after the attacker elects for power over placement. Then the 34 blazes wildly over when well placed after a decent move down the stand side opens up an decent opportunity.
At the end, 2-0 is more than enough for them and whilst results don’t quite fall their way to earn promotion today, they only really need a couple more points to be sure this week. We give the lads a clap and trundle round to the bar for a much needed post-match snifter and find that again the big bar is shut for an event and we’ve basically got the players bar to cater for punters on a day there’s been 4800 in the ground. Sigh. Still, there’s good news for you HATGATE fans out there, as it seems that Nutsack has indeed had his missing lid returned from the wilds of Nottingham. “Update yer fuckin’ blog!” he crows, waving said tit-for-tat under my nose. Bloody kids, no respect for their elders these days. With SAK done and dusted, the bar thins out a touch but is soon boosted by numbers from the VP’s next door as they’re also turfed out for a party! Unlucky lads. I also take the opportunity to catch up with B-Team Beckett who’s been curiously absent from the last couple of aways. Turns out he’s sacked it as after getting booted at Mansfield for the terrible crime of getting sicked on and then getting the hump about it, along with the club agreeing with the plod’s assessment of “He should have dealt with it better” was the straw that broke the Beckett’s back.
Can’t say I blame him personally, the police have clearly abandoned any semblance of common sense to doing games recently, and certainly since Tranmere are now reverting to a more “they’re all coked up wrong’uns, so fuck ’em” approach that their thick as fuck boss from up in Chester seems to favour. I guess the honeymoon’s over on that front now and we’ll have to get used to getting treated like dirt like all other fans at this level going forwards. It sounds like this latest episode will be costing the club an ST renewal as well, which again, I can sort of understand. I also get to catch up with Burgers who we’ve not seen for a while due to work commitments, but I assure him he’s not missed anything of note lately and to direct any spare funds towards his Lego collection. Far more fulfilling. After the National has run it’s course on the telly, a few of us drift out onto the sun terrace via the magic door and whilst some lurking O’s visitors take the opportunity to nick some pics for their kids in the dugouts, we stand around chatting about various crap such as why Surrey FA won’t let the likes of us just play all our county games away and the reason that Tooting are so distraught about their relegation to the county leagues is that they’ll probably end up in the Southern combination, meaning they’ll be off to the likes of Bexhill where exiled PROWS president for life Totts currently resides. We all chuckle at the mental image of Hackbridge Harry and co all rocking up at the Polegrove to find his lordship tipping his old pork pie hat their way with a big old grin on his boat just visible through a cloud of Cohiba smoke.
With time ticking on though, my hunger pangs grow and with Magnum at a similar level of Hank Marvin, we down our pints and skedaddle for the 10 past train back to the Badlands. Here, I part with the PI as his knee is giving him jip and he’s going to get a 127 round to the high street, whilst I can’t be arsed and walk it so I can make the 407 back home. As I stroll, I decide to bag myself a Chinese and having made it to the stop with a few to spare, I call in my order. Sadly, I get greedy and an impulse last minute addition of sesame prawn toast to my order pushes me over the 20 quid I currently have in my wallet. And they don’t take card. Shit! A dart to both ATM’s on Carshalton high street reveals both to be predictably out of order and back at the stop trying to formulate a plan, the 127 appears. Ah! I could ponce a fiver off Magnum!! This plan briefly falls apart as having scanned said bus, I can see no sign of the gammy kneed investigator. But he said…wait, is that him? Looking down the road, I spot him hobbling along and with arms spread in confusion, look back & forth between him and the bus he should have been on. “I needed a piss, so had to dart into the park!” he confesses upon arrival a few moments later. “Lovely. Lend us a fiver will you?”.
With funds secured to complete my transaction, we’re soon on the 407 and I wave off Magnum at my stop as I head over the road to collect my grub. After a short wait, I’m on the final leg back to HQ where Mrs Taz decides she’s actually far too full from her own scoff to assist and I’m left to down the entire lot myself. Not that I’m complaining, as I’m so hungry I chew the arse off a nun through the bars of a convent gate by this point. Right, Northampton Tuesday is it? They’re quite good as well aren’t they?