All right sweethearts, what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed? Another glorious day in the League 2’s! A day in the Football League is like a day on the farm. Every meal’s a banquet! Every centre mid defensive! Every formation a 4-4-2! I love the League 2’s! Yes dear reader, I have returned once again to bring you another one of our now less and less anticipated and increasingly depressing League Two missives. Still, at least this week it’s a bit of a doozy as most of the gang get to complete the division as we once more head North, this time to Morecambe, hoping that a new ground tick and a hangover aren’t the only rewards forthcoming.
Now the last time we were up here was during a similarly ill fated and doomed looking season, late last century, when we rocked up at their old Christie Park gaff, got mullered for 45 minutes, somehow pulled it back to 2-2 early 2nd half and having made them very angry by doing so, had our pants thoroughly pulled down in a 6-2 defeat that but for Gareth Howells heroics in goal would have been more like 16-2. Of course, with it being a new ground and by the seaside, despite the date being in early February, this one was earmarked by many GGL regulars as one for the calendar and as such with many travelling for the weekend, we felt it rude not to join them. Now this was all booked weeks ago of course, just after our last entry on here in fact and a week after new manager Steve Morison was installed. So yes, hope might have played a part in this also.
Since then, played 5 won none, lost 1 and drawn 4. New manager bounce my fucking arse. To be fair however, two of those draws were against Barrow and Mansfield, sides at the sharp end and the latter was a midweek away, so not half bad results at all and ones that helped fuel a brief sense of increased optimism. Another was at Walsall, which was less promising as they were 16thm we pumped them 4-0 at GGL and we largely bossed affairs but failed to score more than once to secure the win. Sadly, the last of the stalemates came last week in our absolutely massive must win 6 pointer at home to a freefalling Doncaster. One up thanks to Easty in the 2nd half, we were literally 10 seconds from our first home win since October and no doubt fully igniting our survival charge when Dean Bouzanis decided clattering through an oppo in the box trying to make a punch miles off his line that he didn’t really need to make was a great idea right in front of a League 2 ref. One brainless penalty converted and two points spaffed up the wall later and we’re back in the bar, using the word ‘fuck’ a lot with practically one foot back in the National League. So yeah, happy days.
My week leading up to this one is spent mostly freezing my bollocks off in a somewhat nippy Oslo with work. It’s a nice little city, sure, but is far more enjoyable when it’s not fucking -14c out. Navigating pavements on the brief occasions I ventured out to risk frostbite was also interesting, as their usual wintry weather had left ice all over the shop so you had to be properly on your guard as a moments lapse in concentration would have you in Norwegian A&E with a broken tailbone and the sort of concussion a that would make a bare knuckle fighter wince quicker than you could say ‘Erling Haaland’. Coming back to the hotel on Wednesday after dinner in particular was properly moody, as a light dusting of snow whilst I ate meant that whilst everything looked really pretty when I emerged, it also did a cracking job of hiding all the ice. Even Torville and Dean would have taken one look and given it bollocks before getting a cab. I can see why they place such a focus on their public services around those parts as the place is fucking lethal half the year. Still, having said that, an almost fatal concussion would certainly have meant me ‘sadly’ missing out on our latest League 2 flailings, so it wouldn’t have been that bad I guess.
So to five thirty AM on a Saturday morning. Alarm, ablutions, dressed, Mrs Taz pecked goodbye on the cheek and I’m out the door cursing my life choices for not exactly the first time recently. With it being so early, I rustle up an Uber and I’m soon on my way to East Croydon. The driver’s pretty chatty although it’s soon quite clear his geography skills aren’t quite up to Mr X’s levels of perfection. As indicated by this little exchange. “Morecambe, where’s that?” “Up North, on the way to Carlisle mate” “Carlisle? That’s in Wales innit?” “Er, no. You thinking of Cardiff there maybe?” “Dunno mate”. Still, good job he doesn’t make his living from transporting people about from place to place eh? Fuck my life. Thankfully, he doesn’t think East Croydon station is in Wales too and I’m soon on the platform hopping a train to Victoria. Today’s travelling numbers will be low, with just Indy, myself and 4days heading up as most of the other dickheads decided to undertake a trademark Gandermonium “couple of beers and a curry” Friday night and were out on the piss until closing in Morecambe the previous evening.
I roll out of Euston underground with half hour to spare and immediately spot Indy lurking. A quick hello and train tickets handed over later, I dart for Sainos and the usual bacon roll breakfast. Here I find myself on the same path as a couple of rude boys loudly playing a drill track on a mobile phone. They’re instantly pinged by the lad on the shop floor as soon as they walk through the door and he’s soon shadowing them around the gaff. Now if you think this is racially motivated, you’d be wrong, as the Saino’s staffer is also black. However, this seems to be what really sets ’em off and within moments there’s a “Why you starin’ blud” and such other questions being levelled at the member of staff. Of course, I make full use of my rough South London council estate upbringing and with a polite “Excuse me lads!”, slip past to raid the hot food. I pay and get my arse out of there before a ruck breaks out, mainly as being a witness to a serious assault tends to put a major crimp in your plans. Back with Indy, Porn Star, Nutsack and Alan are mooching about and before long 4Days joins us. I and the whip toting archaeologist have reserved seats whilst the Welshman has his own, so we make use of his app that tips you the wink on platforms and head for number 3 to get a jump on the crowds so we can bag seats in the unreserved section. With the Scots at home in the 6 Nations today and our train ending in Glasgow, this seems a sensible course of action.
The lads go ahead as I bag a large cuppa from the pastie place on the concourse. The lass behind the jump handing it over with a cheeky wink and a “I’ve put two bags in for you love”. Still got it lads, still fucking got it! Whatever ‘it’ was in the first place. Below, the lads are stood under a ‘PLATFORM CLOSED’ sign with a big Avanti train next to it clearly displaying it’s destination as Glasgow. We’re polite and at least wait until the board changes before bagging a table in carriage U. Sorted! We’re all nice and comfy before anyone else arrives and the place fills out a bit, with a bunch of Pompey lads complete with bags of cans and at least 2 bottles of Jaeger being the largest group. They’re off to Carlisle today it seems. Although I refrain from asking them if it’s the one in Wales. We settle in and engage in some small talk as we head North with 4Days spotting that the lad across the aisle beavering away on his laptop is an RAF Wing Commander. “How’d you know that?” I ask “It says his whole name and rank on his windows log in screen” he nonchalantly advises like he’s probably not just been copping an eyeful of Official Secrets act type material. Then, somewhere around Brum, the peace and tranquillity of Carriage U is shattered by a particularly nasty fart.
It’s not long until the location of the culprit is ID’d as one of the Pompey lads comes past our table a few rows down, his scarf over his face and bottle of Jager in hand complaining “Jesus, you can smell it down here too!”. Having sampled this atmospheric delight, we decide to convene an impromptu fart council to rate the output. We decide to give it an 8.5 as it was a definite creeper, foul in odour and did cause some people distress. Although we couldn’t go any higher as it failed to clear the entire carriage and it didn’t cause anyone to throw up or burst into tears. Decent effort though, fair play. The rest of the journey we’re passing more flooded landscapes and overflowing rivers, probably worse than we saw going to Plymouth last month before we eventually disembark at Lancaster. A short wait here and a two carriage shitter rolls in to deliver us the last part of the journey. We’re soon disembarking at Morecambe station, which quite frankly makes West Sutton look like Paddington such is the lack of infrastructure and heading for the Travelodge. Here we bell Magnum PI to dump our bags in his room whilst 4Days heads pubwards. Bags dropped, we soon meet the Welshman coming back the other way. It seems our target boozer doesn’t in fact open at half 10 today as none of the staff are in yet. Oh well, Spoons it is.
Here we find Greek tucking into a late breakfast and before too long Mr X’s happy smiley little head can be seen bobbing past the window before joining us, where he can’t stop raving about some tasty sausages. Next out is Robbo, leaving just Steve unaccounted for. It soon turns out he’s still in his hotel having breakfast. At gone 11. “That’s almost lunch you cunt!” I advise via Whatsapp. With a quick livener downed in Spoons, we head round the corner to the Queens whilst Greek and Mr X try and recall all the pubs they’d stumbled around last night. “There’s my back door” points out he who cannot be named as we pass the back of his hotel on the front. “Typical of you, always showing geezers your back door” crows Greek. He might be hungover, but you really can’t go giving the big lad sitters like that, even this early in the day. Mr X ignores this and returns to last nights events. “So many pubs” advises the Man of mystery “No really good ones, but lots of ’em!” he adds. Steve’s just polishing his elevenses as we arrive and with pints sorted, I dart over the road to get some tourist pics and on my way back spot Keepo outside the Kings Arms a couple doors down. I give him a wave and advise we’ll be along in a pint’s time.
Back in the Queens some more Friday recollections are obtained and everyone of the advance crew blames the sea air for feeling shit today. “Oh, so definitely wasn’t the brain haemorrhage shots you put a pic on Whatsapp then?”. There’s also further discussion of Mr X’s back door when Greek returns from a smoke. “Bit tight for a big lad like me if I’m honest” he chuckles “I’ve had better!”. Pints downed, we move a few yards up to the Kings and find a load more of West Sutton getting the scoops down. Dancing Marcus and his missus are in and Keepo’s on day care duties with Fish the Cabbie and Dirty Barry, who are once again doing their own Poundshop Morecambe & Wise act it seems. “They’ve been fucking bickering like kids the whole way up” groans Keepo. “Barry only knocked it on the head when some MILF sat at our table on the way up and he turned on the charm!”. I cheer up DB further by showing him the pic the lads had got of a local adult emporium the day before. We get 2 in here and whilst I’m at the bar getting the seconds in, Keepo and co move on and when I return to the section we’ve all been sitting in they’ve been replaced by about four times the people and it’s now goggled jackets, snide Burberry scarves and ‘Weekend Offender’ sweatshirts as far as the eye can see. “When’d the fucking kindergarten kick out?” I ask Mr X before he tells me that half of the lads are actually from Barrow and he’d tried to fob them off outside when they rocked up 2 minutes after all our young’uns asking if any Sutton had shown up. “Thought they were Morecambe and there was about to be a fucking riot” he chuckles.
Seems our lads and Barrow had got matey earlier this season and the boys have headed around the bay to give us some backing as they couldn’t get down to the Wombles today for their game. Still, beats fannying about pavement dancing and giving it the old 10 to 2’s I suppose. Next pints down, we head to the Nelson to catch up with Keepo & co there. Here the beer selection is limited, but the gin one is certainly not. So Magnum, Mr X and I indulge. Our interest in all things Juniper and the now near constant abuse flying between the assembled mob has her in stitches and she eventually gifts us a shot of gin each on the house. Rude not to really! Next stop is the Chieftain a few doors down, here at the bar I get chatting to a stereotypical local in the flat cap whilst I sort the round and he’s good value, reminding me of many of his sort that used to inhabit the pubs up Manchester and Oldham when I was kid out with my dad when visiting relatives up there. “Who’s your mate?” asks 4Days when I finally break off. “Fred Dibnah” I reply. Shortly after Fish, Keepo and DB arrive with Marcus and missus, who it seems has managed to acquire a wicker cat. As in a feline made of wicker material. “It’s a wicker pussy” chuckles Keepo and with that kind of subject matter you better believe we got a picture of DB with it. This isn’t our first Rodeo you know.
Bouzanis, Goodliffe, Hart, Kizzi, Adom-Malaki, Jackson, Eastmond, Duke-McKenna, Lakin, Angol, Sanderson. SUBS: Arnold, Smith, Patrick, Beautyman, Moore, Sowunmi, John
Time is running short, but handily travel sec Mr X is on the ball and spots a cab office right next door and rustles up a fleet of sherberts to ferry some nicely oiled South Londoners out to the ground. Here we arrive well in time sort out briefs and still have time to bag a decent pie to get some soakage going before kick off. Whilst I obtain my scoff, one of the Yoof appears to be having issues at the jump. I guess that maybe his card isn’t working for contactless, but as I offer to cover his drink\food, the lass serving reveals that the issue is his ID for trying to buy a pint. “Worth a go I s’pose!” confesses the young lad, revealing he was trying to get away with a 16year old’s Oyster Freedom pass as his ID. To buy a pint. Fucking hell, young’uns today! As for the game? Ah yeah, that. Seen it all before this season quite frankly.
We start ok, although without doing much then barely 5 mins in, Nino gets pulled out of position down below us. Ball into the space, bloke in acres squares it and tap in near post. To fucking easy, too fucking early. It’s the sort of goal we’ve conceded all season long and one we literally are incapable of doing ourselves. From here, we don’t really make much at all happen for the rest of the half despite having a lot of the ball and they meanwhile look like a side that’s not won at home in ages. At the break, Steve freshens things up with Beauts, Smith and Patrick coming on. But all this does is unsettle us more and Morecambe promptly have 3 good chances whilst we can barely make it into their final third. Our best spell is the last 10, but all we get are two hits from range straight at the keeper whilst they really should put us to bed on the 90, but the bloke falls over his own feet 10 yards out with a tap in and Bouzanis is able to block.
Either way, it’s a pretty lifeless and resigned looking performance from all concerned and by far the worst of Morison’s reign so far. Given the venue today, you could I guess say that we were playing all of the right passes, but not necessarily in the right order. Boom boom. Personally for me however, after last week and that showing, I think we’re done. We’ve 15 games left and yes, whilst that represents 45 points up for grabs, we’ve managed 22 so far from 31 games. Our last home win was over 3 months ago and we have 1 win away all season. We need to win 6-7 of the last 15 realistically and quite frankly, I can’t really see us getting that many points let alone that many wins. Still, I did say back in October this side would struggle to get 30pts the way we were going, so I really shouldn’t be surprised. Waving off 4Days who’s the only one day tripping it, we file out with the rest of the crowd and decide to have a walk back to town rather than try to piss about with cabs and what not. It also means everyone can have a good old sulk along the way. On the front, about halfway back, we come across what looks to be a big old station building. And in it is a pub, imaginatively called ‘The Station’. Pint? Pint. The fact that the town has this impressive old Victorian setup here that’s been left to be turned into a boozer and left with a two bob island platform halt just up the road as it’s entry point is baffling. So much so, Mr X spends a few minutes looking up the history of it all on his phone.
We do two here and then complete the walk back to town, with Indy & I getting checked in at the hotel, dumping bags and reconvening in Spoons for more pints and some cheap scoff to line the stomachs for the night out. Greek demands that we have a plan for the night rather than just wandering aimlessly, so we look into it and with a couple of recommendations of the Smugglers Den, we decide to crawl our way there to shut Mr Souvlaki up. First stop is the Old Bank, where again the beer selection is shite and not wanting to put Guinness on top of dinner, I switch to G&T. It’s just easier. Next up is the Pier Hotel, where we’re all delighted to find that a couple of lads are setting up to start a Country & Western set. None of us is a fan of either genre and instead we start making Blues Brothers cracks and commenting that it’s a shame there’s no chicken wire in place. Sadly, it seems JR is a fan, or at least he thinks he is with one compilation album in his iTunes. “Has it got any Dolly Parton on it?” I ask. “No, but there’s some Alan Jackson”. Whoever the fuck that may be. To make matters worse they kick off with a track by the aforementioned artist. Suddenly Mr X’s choice of a pint whilst we went for shorts backfires on him as he’s not only trying to chug back a pint of Amstel, but he’s got us giving him “Fucking hurry up before they start line dancing!” evils whilst some lad croons about his truck and his missus leaving him for a donkey or something.
We finally escape, with Steve and Robbo calling it a night at this point. As we depart, we notice on the A-board outside the boozer that someone else round here is as much of a C&W fan as we are. I’ll chuck the pic up on here. From the Pier, we head into the back streets aiming for the Smugglers but find the Bull. It wasn’t on our intended stops, but fuck it. After both Mr X and Greek nearly knocking themselves out on low beams, we knock back a short and move on to our final destination. In the Smugglers, we find a spot in the corner and park our arses in what is clearly a locals pub. Still, it’s not hugely busy and everyone’s good value with us outsiders. Plus the jukebox from 1992 on the wall is putting out some decent tunes. Here we chat shite about this season and god knows what other shite. Amusingly, after our 3rd or 4th round, a woman who’d briefly bothered Mr X for a light outside mistakes Magnum for him despite a good 6 inches less in height and a thousand percent more grey hair. Of course, this doesn’t lead to endless ‘Twins’ based piss taking from the likes of me or Greek. “I guess we have to start calling you two Danny and Arnie now?” chuckles the Tzatziki man.
Magnum then gets further abuse for sticking a quid into a jukebox that’s been knocking off crackers all night purely off free play. Eventually though, it’s 11 and last orders, so we head say farewell and head back out into the night. “Nightcap?” enquires Mr X. We agree to one more and head back to the Nelson as we’re mostly on gin and well, they’ve got a fuckload of it. Here, that one nightcap turns into about 6 more rounds watching the nightlife of Morecambe come and go and be denied entry to the bar and we decide to finally call it a night just before 2am. The lads go to the hotel, but I’ve got a hankering for a little pizza as final fat soakage and head off to find the gaff. But sadly despite the Googles saying it’s open until 3am, it most certainly is not when I get there and I stomp off back to the Travelodge in a sulk to make do with some Cheese and Onion and a snickers from the vending machine in the foyer. Fuck my life. Right, beddy num nums. I’m old and I’m quite pissed thank you very much.
My alarm wakes me shortly before 9 and I head for the khazi for a download. Showered soon after and dressed, I head to Spoons for stodge and find Indy already in situ demolishing a large full English. Soon after, Greek stumbles in and joins us for scoff too. Indy heads for a walk after and I eventually leave Greek to his nosebag so I can go check out and make the most of the fresh air on the front to clear my fuzzy head. A couple of lengths here and that does the world of good and I rock up to the station to find Mr X puffing a ciggie outside and his rolly case abandoned in the middle of the platform miles from anyone else in the party when I get inside. The Sunday services aren’t great and having arrived at Lancaster from Morecambe, we find we have an hours wait for our train back to the smoke. So with some taking shelter in the pub on the platform, Mr X, Magnum and I go off on a foraging run to pick up fodder for the long trip home. Meal deals secured from a nearby Tescos, we return with time to spare. I go to get a cuppa for the ride and find that the spot on our platform only has decaf tea. Seriously! I dart over the other side to get my fix and find it too is a Costa’s like the other one. How about you walk over and get some proper tea bags you lazy fuckers?? Jesus. Here Steve guesses correctly on Coach U so we can dive on and get seats and with everyone spread out, we settle in for the trip home to begin in earnest. Amusingly, there’s a lad sat at a table opposite myself and Steve wearing a Pompey bucket hat, much to the delight of the Saints season ticket holder next to me. Don’t fucking start now!
It’s mostly uneventful until Mr X appears to declare our route home has been blocked by a landslide. Great! It turns out that we have to get as far as Wolverhampton before doubling back to Stafford to get switched to another line, bypass the midlands and get back to London that way. Most people bail at Crewe to avoid this, but we can’t be arsed and a quieter train means more spreading out. Whatever. Finally though, after a 4hr trundle, we pull into town and bidding farewell to the now gasping smokers, myself, Steve and Magnum head for Victoria. On the crowded tube, one further bit of mirth is provided when a nice man offers the grey haired and weary looking Magnum his seat. Steve and I barely able to stifle our giggles as he reluctantly accepts and sits there with a look of “These cunts aren’t going to let me forget this” look on his face. No, no we’re not mate. Sorry. Trains are a mess, but we eventually get one back to East Croydon before finding absolute carnage awaits. The trams are all fucked, being dug up and because of this buses are diverted all over the shop. So we hop one to West Croydon only to find that just as boned. Eventually, we give up and jump a 455 which goes round half of South London before finally depositing Magnum and I both a 10 minute walk from our respective homes almost 2 hours after we’d left Euston.
Back at HQ, Mrs Taz is delighted to see my weary carcass fall in through the door. Still, my offer to pizza her up for dinner helps matters somewhat. Loves the garlic bread she does. Like I said lads, still got it.
Still don’t know what ‘it’ is though.