Oh no, it’s that time once again! And much like that drunk crazy relative you always have to invite to your gaff at Christmas, otherwise it will upset your mother, it’s me The Duke back once more to regale you with a tale of non-league football. The Gandermonium blog might’ve evolved since the last time I cobbled some guff together, but be rest assured. The Duke never evolves with the times!
There can only be one thing that gets me going in football these days, a simple local county cup competition. And with the fortunes of the first team currently not what we would like, but some have come to expect, it’s always good to have some form of escapism. And for me and a few of the hardy Old Guard, it’s a Tuesday night trip to Cobham. Oh the glamour! Epsom & Ewell are our opponents for the match and they’ve been homeless for the best part of thirty years now. They are currently plying their trade down the Leg O’ Mutton. And shock! Horror! It actually is a new ground for the aficionados. I remember us playing the Salts over ten years ago, before the relaunch of Gandermonium 2.0, when we played and defeated them in this very competition when they were out somewhere near Merstham. Oh how times have changed.
After a day slogging it at work and trying to deal with the sprogs, I have just enough time to get changed and say goodbye to Duchess before I’m out of the door and heading West. I’d also spent some of the day looking at the club website. Now, it has been a while since I had a butcher at the thing but it’s changed somewhat since then. I was after the stats page as I always want to get some of my facts straight before I get up onto my soap box. These blogs of mine of late have given me the usual opportunity to mouth off at the fact that the club does not take this competition seriously no more and has left it the kids to disappoint us and show their failings as footballers.
But I am going to leave that this time round. Not because I’ve become disillusioned with my campaign, oh far from it. If we were to win, I might get the opportunity to once again moan and groan like a lady of the night who’s met John Holmes. But can I find the stats page on the website? Can I fuck! I was only going to look at the player who have not really featured and could do with the game time. Dundo, Gape, Mellor and Tope to name a few.
Can’t lie, It’s one of the easiest away trips to drive to. Especially as I’m now residing on a council estate Housing Association community in Worcester Park. Five minutes to the A3 and it’s heel for leather until you reach the A245 Painshill turn off just before the shit hits the fan at the M25. Five minutes from there you’re passing the lights of the ground on the right, hang a right at a posh Waitrose’s and then into a conveniently located car park that’s free from seven o’clock.
Situated there for what looks like some dogging action is none other than Juan Sheet once of this blogging parish, remember him? And Rax who is also making the trip and has cadged a lift off the Spanish one. Our recently promoted SLO is present too and she thanks the gods she didn’t wear any high heels as the walk toward the ground is not the smoothest of journeys. Especially in the pitch dark. The cost of the ticket is a mere £8 and with a £10 note I get a proggie as well. £1.50 for a cup of splosh and I take a butchers at the ground. It’s a small, modern Lego kit a la Dorking with a 3G pitch and fencing all round. Soulless with a touch of uniform standardization that removes any uniqueness. And the nail in the coffin was that you couldn’t smoke! Well that’s one star off on TripAdvisor right away.
Looking at the line-up and it is no surprise that there is hardly any representation from the first team. There were several players that played in last years match against the Met Police, so hopefully they’ve improved somewhat, because that was an awful display of football and I really thought that some of those that played that night would be better suited to pushing trollies at Safeway. No offence to those that worked the trollies at Safeways.
House, Marquis, Sullivan, Traore, Taylor, Williams, Philips, Moore, Trickett, Costello, Edwards, Tumi. Bench Warmers: Eccleston, Vorster, Tume, Jones.
With Taz, 4 Days & Mr X also all making a show, we snug ourselves down the side of the pitch and begin to watch the kids ply their trade. The Salts themselves are a much younger team than last time round. Well, except for the right-back number two who looked like he was perhaps better suited to be standing on the sidelines with us.
Can’t say I am a fan of kids football. No roughness in it, too weak for me. But we did manage to witness about the same amount of offsides this season in one match than we have all season in League 2 as both teams struggle to understand the laws of the game in that regard. Sutton started with some early pressure and peppered the Epsom goal with several corners and a few chances. However, Epsom had an ace up their sleeve as the man between the sticks was rather good. He could definitely play a bit higher up the leagues. If only he was a bit taller.
Highlight of the half was not that Sutton were denied a clear corner after a ball down the middle had created a perfect one on one situation that the keeper done well to push it wide of the post. Only for the man in black to give a goal-kick, much to the surprise of everyone in the ground. No, the highlight was a rather random moment when a group of Yoots, who were not of our own parish, started to sing “We love you Miller, we do”. Much to the surprise of one of the spectators. I wonder who they were singing about.
At half-time, it’s another lovely cup of Rosie and an even lovelier smoke outside the turnstiles as we dissect the first-half. Not too shabby, we seemed to edge the first-half and at least we weren’t losing! Quick tiddle in a toilet seemingly designed for someone straight out of Hobbiton and we head back up to the other end of the second half. Ah, moving ends, that takes me back.
Second half starts and it’s pretty much the same as Sutton continue to pepper the Epsom goal. Bit like the first team as the final ball is never the best and when we do get a chance, The keeper is good enough to deny us at every opportunity. Disaster would strike the U’s when, in the fashion that we’ve become accustomed to, they give away the softest of penalties. A true representation of the first team. The resulting spot kick was saved by House as he dived to his left to push the ball out for a corner though. However, the ball back into the box from the resulting corner was met by a free header and just after the hour mark Sutton were once again chasing the game. Because of this, The Dack Man tries to shake things up by bringing on Vorster for Costello.
And just when we thought the dream was going to be over once again for another year, the super sub Vorster steps up and slots the ball home after another set of saves from that man between the sticks again but this time someone managed to score. 1-1! Now Sutton are in the ascendancy and the hope is that this wont go the distance and those prayers were answer when once again, the boy Vorster linked up with some good football to get the ball into the box and slip it home in front of a relieved away support. 2-1! There was no time for us as he runs towards the cameras to get his socials sorted out. Ah, modern football. Sutton also managed to see the match out without having to put eleven men behind the ball and root ourselves in our own half. A tactic the first team could use one day maybe?
So that is technically three wins in a row now. Well, only if you include it as a senior match that is, and those of us that are there are probably more content that the match did not go to penalties and can get away back to the big smoke early that what might’ve been. I gladly offer a lift to Rax back to his in Leatherhead, it’s an easy trip down the A245 and then back home to the favellas. Mission accomplished.
That’s it from me, short & sweet as these days I have several outside pressures I need to deal with. But at least you’re all safe in the knowledge that I will no doubt being spinning a yarn out once again for the next round. Many apologies in advance for that.