By A Thread

Well, it’s been a minute eh? Over a month in fact since I engaged the fingers and bashed out some load of old rubbish for these here pages. It’s been so long in fact that the next two posts were from Dukey on his beloved Surrey Senior Cup! (1|2).Back in March, there was optimism as we hiked up to Liverpool for a weekend of festivities for the Flat Capped Wonder’s 40th as well as having just bagged the first win of the Steve Morison eta away at Notts County. Suddenly there was hope again. Could we really still survive the drop??

Of course, that hope was mostly washed away in a mainly toothless 90 minutes that afterwards had even the most hardy optimistic believer on the SUFC Bookface group all but accepting the inevitable. Glum stuff. Still, Grimsby at home next. A must win game that. So of course we curled one out on the GGL turf with probably the worst performance under Steve and somehow nicked a point with a penalty right at the death that was about our only meaningful effort on goal all day. Another defeat away to a Crewe side that were a shadow of the impressive mob from earlier this season at GGL and that looked to be that. Games were fast running out and with those around us not able to get matches on as the rain fell, they had games in hand over us to burn as well. It didn’t look good.

First of the Day….
Amused whilst peeing…

So, we went to FGR for another of those fucking must win games, none of which we’d yet managed to actually win, more in hope than any expectation whatsoever. So of course, the bastards turned up and did a job finally, dominating an awful Rovers side and seeing out a 1-0 win more comfortable than the score line suggests. Yeah, nice one lads. Any danger of doing it again? There was it seems as three more wins over Accy, Salford and a Swindon side so poor it gave us flashbacks to us in September followed in quick succession. Yes, that’s 4 (FOUR) wins in a row for those of you not paying attention and suddenly, we’re alive and out of the bottom two for the first time since the end of August. Yes, we’ve really been that shit for that long. Sure, FGR, Colchester and Grimsby have all got games in hand still, but at least we’re making a fight of it at last.

The run ended last week with a comfortable loss to league leaders Stockport, although again there were PTSD triggers provided as we managed to go behind at GGL even bloody quicker than we’d done in the 8-0 face fucking up at their place that cost Matt Gray his job. Quite some doing, even by our standards. Still, results fell kindly and we remained 22nd. This meant that we’d probably need 2 wins from our last three and hope results continued in our favour. So it was off to Harrogate we go with some of that annoying hope stuff still lingering on. And we all know how bad that shit is for you don’t we?

Mixed in amongst all that nonsense was a genuinely happy occasion, with the marriage of Gandermonium cohort Not-Irish-Pete and his missus Helen. A lovely time was had by all up in Lincolnshire and Pete got pretty much all of his deposit back on the reception venue to boot. Mainly as we couldn’t work out how to get the odd boat type installation they had marooned on the lawn outside back into the large pond on the property where we thought it really belonged. Hey, we count that as being well behaved alright? Just because we didn’t fuck stuff up, doesn’t mean we didn’t want to. And besides, it was raining out. And the bar was open. And there was pizza. Anyway, I digress. Our congratulations to the happy couple! Right, shall we do this Harrogate thing then?

Thought it was cheap up North?
Played on worse….

This is the last big away trip of the season and as such this means yet another early start. So the usual stupid o’clock routine takes place with me trying to get ready without disturbing Mrs Taz too much. I guess I failed as she uses the khazi whilst I’m showering and when I come out, all the curtains are open, albeit with her having returned to bed. Marvellous. Successful start to the day there. Outside, the bus arrives in good time, but then when in Croydon, goes on a diversion as once again, they’re digging up half of the Tramlink stuff. This means I get dumped out front of the station instead and then have to navigate a maze of hoardings to get into the concourse and have to do so at a brisk pace to make the train that is due imminently. Which I then ditch as I see there’s signal issues at London Bridge, so fuck using Thameslink and getting shafted. Victoria it is! As I rumble into town, the newly married Pete (Non-Eire) has revealed he’s running behind schedule due to having to rescue a cat from a roof. Which is definitely a new one and pretty inventive for us I’ll admit. Most of our lot usually just go with some lazy ‘overslept’ or ‘train into town was cancelled’ bollocks in these situations. Fair play.

I switch to the tube at Vic and endure a sauna level 15 minute run to Kings Cross thanks to our Victorian architecture and my wearing a big coat as I couldn’t work out the weather today. Still, I pop up above ground with a good 20+ minutes to spare and locate Mr X and Robbo on the concourse. Tickets sorted, I see Greggs has a large queue, so I buzz to Macs instead. It’s busy and I fail to get Order 66, so any nearby Jedi remain un-massacred but my grotty foods is delivered quickly and I’m back for a cuppa, being directed by a pre-departure smoke Mr X that the train’s ready to board. Lovely stuff. Tea sorted, I get on and find Greek, Indy and Pete already seated. Also, much to the Man of Mystery’s delight, he’s got us seats right by the buffet. Rosey Lee on tap, he couldn’t be happier. Sadly, this joy is short lived as the young lad behind the jump is excessively cheery and chirpy for this time of the morning and somewhat ruins the ready availability of a brew. Even the two Leeds lads opposite comment as such with rolling eyes as we depart.

As we leave London behind, Pete fills in on all the details of the near cat-astrophe (geddit?!) from earlier. Seems his missus has a moggy that’s about as mobile and with it as Dr Bell these days and got itself into a tough spot just as he was about to leave, so being the caring humanitarian he is, he had to grab some step ladders and retrieve the stranded feline before he could get on the road and not because his missus would have fucking killed him had he simply just tipped out the door. Oh no. And all this well before 6am as well. Fuck. That. “I nearly bought you an air rifle as a wedding present as it happens!” I offer, meanwhile everyone else just reckons the tale of pet woe is a firm 7 on the Chalmers ‘Cool Story Bro’ scale. Bit harsh maybe, but then we are utter wankers. The newly wed also reveals that his missus is already sick of him jokingly calling her ‘wifey’ which is fine work in the timeframe I think you’ll agree. The rest of the trip is passed by discussing Chalmers own upcoming Stag next month and chatting football with the 2 Kent exiled Leeds fans next to us. Both are huge fans of Steve Morison from his time at Elland Road as it turns out. Not.

Let’s get it over with.
Attacking. Kinda.

We bid the lads farewell at Leeds and head for the next leg, the shortish run over to Harrogate. This train is on time, startlingly enough for a Northern service and we’re soon well on our way. 4Days appears at the next stop, having been up since yesterday with his other half to meet her Brother and his family. Also, the guard on this train is properly keen and has the same level of humour we did after losing 8-0 at Stockport, so the ticket checks are most enjoyable. Although at least we don’t get barked at like the Chinese tourists\students behind us. Finally, as Mickey’s little hand approaches 11, we pile off at our final destination and with folding obtained from the ATM, we hit the Tap right outside the station and get our pint on. Which in my case is a cracking pint of red Willow, which is just the job to get the day properly started.

Here we tuck into a couple, Robbo tells us he’s getting a medal from work. Fuck knows why. And we’re joined by Bob & Cath fresh back from a trip to the cultural and artistic hotbed that is Florida. Soon after Magnum arrives with his mates from up this way who are ST holders at our hosts today. He’s stopping over in Leeds tonight with his other half who’s bumped off to the Leeds game instead today. Greek also apparently finds a discarded, shitty adult nappy in the gents that he reports to the bar staff and allegedly fingers Mr X for it, although he doesn’t tell me this until the next boozer. Which is really quite discreet for him if I’m honest. Next up is the Timmy Taylors gaff down the road, where Pete spaces out his boozing with an alcohol free number before then talking the barmaid into letting him have about 5 tasters of all the full alcohol fruity ciders they have on offer! “He’s in finance. Probably some sort of fucking tax dodge” is Mr X’s best guess. Here Greek reveals the nappy incident I mentioned earlier to the rest of the group and that the Mystery Man was his identified culprit. Naturally, this radically lowers the tone and 4Days is soon accusing him of being the unknown person who shat in the urinals at the Hope a while back. It also leads to us devising an entirely new meaning for the saying “In for a penny, in for a pound”. We also get Cathy dropping a boo boo when telling an anecdote and getting confused when Bob looks confused. “Am I telling an ex-husband story?” she wonders aloud as Bob announces “I think I’ll go for a piss”. Tactful.

Now normally, we’d walk through the tunnel from here up to the Devonshire, but to maximise VDT and save Robbo’s legs, we bag some sherberts instead. I dive in the first one as as we wait outside for it to pull up, the B-Team are opposite outside ‘Trotters’, the Only Fools themed gaff we went in last year here and they’re giving it large. “Your support is fucking shit!” they sing, so naturally, I stand in the road giving it the ten to twos and wanker signs back at them. Childish? Us? How very dare you. The cab drops us at the next boozer a couple of minutes later and more pints follow. Here Bob gets chatting to a lad who’s son is Harrogate’s analyst, but who also turns out is a Middlesbrough fan and was at both of our FA Cup ties with them back in ’88. Here he reveals that a Sutton shirt was thrown into the crowd at the end by one of our players and that he grabbed it. Suddenly, I’m all ears. “Was definitely one of the black lads in your side” he muses. Which would be quite something if so, as I believe that means it would either be Lenny Dennis or Francis Awaritife’s shirt. “Do you still have it?” I ask. He reckons he does, but it’ll be in his loft somewhere. “I’ll have a look and let the lad know, he’s good mates with your analyst chap” is all we can get as an agreement, although we do offer to have a whip round and donate to his local Non-League club if he does indeed have it. Most exciting.

Beauts!!!! 1-0!!
On our arses

Time sadly passes by though and we can delay it no longer. It’s time for the game. So we trudge off across the common to the ground, which proves to be a great choice given that the UK has had almost no rain at all lately. Cue several of us going all tippy toes and skipping across some patches when they start to feel a bit squishy underfoot, which I’m sure looked hugely dignified to anyone who was looking on. In the ground and the team news is positive. Lakin’s knock from last week isn’t serious and he starts, as do Easty and Beauts. So we’re going solid as it seems. Here’s hoping it works and we can get the points. Crack on lads.

Arnold, Sowunmi, Kizzi, Hart, Jackon, Coley, Eastmond, Beautyman, Lakin, Adom-Malaki, Smith. SUBS: Kerbey Moore, John, Duke-McKenna, Sanderson, N’Guessan, Clay

Early exchanges are positive. It’s not the cleanest of games, but we’re the better side and Lakin forces an untidy save from the keeps via a skiddy low free kick and Coley tests the stopped from range following a corner. The best the hosts manage is a weak header directed straight at Arnold. But as the break approaches, there’s no breakthrough in sight. As the board goes up for added time, Coley chases one down to the corner flag, he defends it, gets a nick off a defender and is able to get free. He plays a 1-2 with Jackson and then squares it near post for the late arriving Beautyman to prod home. GET IN!! It’s a priceless lead too as when the half time whistle sounds 3 minutes later, we hear that Colchester are up at Crawley and Grimsby lead at Crewe. God this is stressful. We need a huge second 45 here and no mistake.

AHEM!! I SAID WE NEED A HUGE 45 HERE AND NO MIST…..oh for fucks sake. God knows what’s said at half time, as from the restart we just suddenly look well off it. The lead lasts all of 5 minutes and it’s a painfully awful goal to boot. Then again, aren’t they usually with us this season? A simple ball down the line, Jackson misses cutting it out, Sowunmi’s tackle is weak, Coley fails to cut out the square ball and the bloke is in acres to sweep it far corner from just inside the box. 1-1. This seems to knock us somewhat and the rest of the half becomes a bit of a struggle as they play better, but still largely carry no threat. Elsewhere, goals go against us Colchester and then Grimsby extend their leads. Bad, this is bad! Steve chucks in fresh legs, with Nino, Easty and Coley all replaced by Moore, Sanderson and Duke-McKenna. This doesn’t do a lot really and as the game enters the last 10, disaster. The somewhat fussy ref awards a soft as shit freekick a few yards into their half against Kizzi. Rather than stand on it a few seconds and maybe even take the yellow for delaying the restart, Joe plonks the ball down and jogs in. However, the hosts need a win themselves to keep their slim PO hopes alive, so they take it quick down the line. The lad runs clear into space, draws two and bobbles it across for the late arriving forward to slam the ball past a stranded Arnold into the top far corner. It’s a goal that if we’ve conceded once this season, we’ve conceded it 20 times.

Turned out nice again…
Soggy pocket contents

So 10 to go and with our rivals both having 2-3 goals leads at this point, you know that scene at the end of ‘Snatch’ when Mickey knocks out Bricktop’s man despite being expressly told not to? You know, when it goes freeze frame on Turkish and Tommy’s faces? Yeah. That. That’s us that is. Fucked. Proper fucked. To be honest, most of us don’t have much left in the tank after this season and it seems acceptance to our fate is largely the feeling in the away end. We don’t look like getting anything out of it until a couple of minutes left, the completely anonymous Sanderson picks up the ball on halfway, turns, advances a few yards and then sticks a ball in behind the fullback. Moore nips in behind and notches his fourth goal of the week with a low finish. Fucking hell. I hate football, I really really hate football. This leads to a frantic last few minutes as both sides now need the win. Arnold stands up tall when a ball through the line sends a lad clear, but he denies with a good block and then with seconds left, Lakin keeps battling up top and finds a last ball to Harry Smith. It’s a bit wide but the defender can’t get across and it’s still a decent sighter. But he goes for the leathered finish and sadly powers the shot over and into the stand behind from about 10 yards. Cock it.

Full time and it’s a sombre mood. The lads get applause for their effort, but it’s yet more points dropped to limited oppo which quite frankly has been the theme since Xmas by and large. Not terrible performances overall, but some shit defending and the points return’s just not been enough. We begin the trudge back to town, but I need a leak and tell the others to go on ahead. As I exit and start the walk back, the wind picks up and within a minute or so, I’ve got driving rain pelting me in the face. Lovely stuff. I try to call Mr X to let them know I’ll see them in the Tap, but the rain runs down my phone screen and makes it impossible to make a call. Using maps is pointless as well. So instead I’m forced to use my brain, well more my beer memory, from previous visits and miraculously pop out on the main road running down past the station a few minutes later. Result!! I am pissing wet through though, which is of course delightful. In the pub, I find Robbo, who’d bailed just before FT in a booked cab and then all the other drowned rats roll in. Pint? Pint.

We dry off as best we can and make plans for departure. We can get any train back to Leeds really, but we have to be on the 19.45 off there to get back to the smoke. Electing to have a quick couple here, we go for the 20 past 6 and chat to some locals about the game. One bald lad who looks a bit Matt Lucas like overhears the tale from earlier about the 1988 shirt the lad claimed he had. And via some further chatting, it turns out it’s his mum’s neighbour! The fuck? He provides some contact info (he shows me his FB profile!) and also promises to get his mum to put in a word for us. Man the world is odd sometimes. Eventually we bid our farewells and head for the train, on the platform, the B-team are also heading back and we all pile on for the run back to Leeds. The guard on this one is as cheery as the lad we’ve had on the way up and with Greek having bailed for a lift back with Ossie, we let Harry the Ref have his return ticket so he can get out at Leeds for some cans. As we pull away from a place called Pannal, wherever the fuck that is, we notice someone who looked very much like Wreck It Beckett on the platform as we pull out. What’s gone on there then?!

Yeah, we’re in a “Stand alone on a railway bridge” kinda mood too mate…

Turns out the guard reckoned he was on some sort of moody ticket and has turfed him off the train! That’ll be fun for him no doubt. I bet wherever that is doesn’t even have a Spoons! Back in Leeds, Harry joins us for a quick snifter in the station Spoons before he heads off for a night out in Sheffield with some mates and we head for Sainos for cans. Our original plan of a KFC bucket has been kyboshed by the fact that KFC is shut! Is there another chicken shortage on or what? I grab cans and as I exit, I notice there’s a ‘Leon’ opposite and it’s empty. I know they do takeaway from a couple of lunches at work so offload my cans on Indy and dart for some scoff. A chicken burger and waffle fries later, I’m a happier little Hector. The train home is pretty busy, but as we’re in the very last carriage this is deserted, so we settle in, feed and work through the cans. It’s slow going though. Just before 10, we pull back into Kings Cross and with the Sutton lot heading to Vic, Mr X sticks with me to head to St Pancs as there’s a Thameslink back round the loop to the Republic in a few minutes, with my East Croydon train just behind it.

On the platform though, a late train comes in meaning I can flick him the V’s and tell him to fuck off and get on my way home sooner. He calls me a cunt in response, so it’s all good. I sit and take in my last fruity beer I got, staring out the window on the run South. As we close in on Croydon a homeless lad makes his way down the carriages giving it the spare change for a hostel room spiel. I’m in a shit mood, but not that shit and I hand him the couple of quid in change I have left in my pocket, apologising it’s not much. “It’s ok, I just need £2.50 now!” and he goes to do the last carriage as we approach my stop. Everyone else ignores the lad though, including an older couple who give him daggers and whose barely concealed distaste at my donation I’d noticed earlier. They look like the sort of people who will constantly bang on on Facebook about “Helping our own”, but do fucking literally anything but.

Upset, he gets off the train muttering to himself he’ll have to do the run again to try and get that last 2.50 despite this being where he needed to get to for the night. Then the penny drops. I do have more! One of the lads gave me a tenner at Leeds when I paid for their cans on the self service. So I chase him down and hand him the ten quid from my wallet and apologise that I’d not remembered I had it. With the old couple still looking down their noses through the train window and no doubt tutting about “Only spending it on drugs”, matey gives me a hug and thanks me profusely. I wave the fella off outside the station and renegotiate the maze from this morning to get to the bus stop and home. Here I find a large crowd waiting at a stop that not one of them has noticed is actually closed because of the works opposite. I chuckle and get my stroll on to the next one. Bollocks, I’ve just done my good deed for the day! A 407 later and I’m back in the door of HQ to surprisingly find Mrs Taz curled up on the sofa watching the last knockings of the last Spiderman flick rather than in bed snoring her box off. So I grab a pint of water and some crisps and join her before turning in.

When there’s nowt to do but stare out the window and think of what might have been…
Back in the Smoke

“Good game?”

Not really love. No.


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