Is The Darts On??

Good day to you my friend and welcome to the third and final instalment of what might possibly our most underwhelming series of entries to date. And trust us, that’s quite something when you consider the level of absolute bollocks dribbled out onto these here pages over the many many years we’ve insisted on sharing this rubbish with you good folks. Yes, it’s the final part of my ill advised “Hey let’s blog the last 3 games in case we actually pull off a miracle!” trilogy. Spoiler alert, we didn’t pull off a miracle. Actually, do that last bit in your head in Morgan Freeman’s voice. It’ll make it sound more dramatic than it actually was.

We all knew it was probably going to end this way, but like that daft black knight bloke on Monty Python’s ‘Holy Grail’ we largely ignored facts like not beating Harrogate and kept on insisting it was only a flesh wound whilst most of the footballing world simply shook it’s collective head and went “Oh mate” under their breath. Saturday’s late bed shitting at home to Crawley was pretty much the final nail really if we’re honest, as winning that would have left us a single point behind Colchester. Which in light of their own less than stellar showing on Tuesday against Donny where they spectacularly burned their last game in hand with a 4-1 home defeat, would have set up a tense final day for us both. Sadly, our draw meant they instead held a 3point and 5 goal difference advantage. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am well aware football’s a barmy old carry on. I mean, we made the fucking Football League after all, but those sort of disadvantages whilst possible to overcome, rarely ever are.

Yes yes, but where’s the pub??
Come for the beer, stay for the odd light fittings…
That’ll do for starters, keep ’em coming…

Touching briefly back to last week post-Crawley, I had to get my arse back to HQ sharpish so missed out on the end of season awards. The fact that Charlie Lakin, signed on loan in January, picked up Club Player and Players Player awards should tell you everything you need to know about the sort of season we’ve had. Still, at least the rest of the squad had the self awareness to realise a bloke who’d barely had a kick this season before he came to us was better than all of them in less than half the time. Cheers Charlie, well deserved mate. As the week trundled towards it’s conclusion, the more you looked at the scenarios, the more obvious it because that we could do whatever we liked at MK. Colchester would most likely get the point they needed to secure safety ahead of us. Still, we’re gonna go suffer watch regardless right? Mainly as all the other times we’ve been relegated in the past, we’ve never broken 25pts or finished anywhere but stone dead last, so this is at least new ground for us. Exciting eh? No, you’re right. It’s not.

Understandably with no need for advance train tickets and MK being easily reachable, no formal plan is settled on until about Thursday evening when 4Days suggests we head to Bletchley on the 10.23 out of Euston, pint up in the Spoons there until 12 and then head to Fenny Stratford, wherever the fuck that is, as there’s 3-4 boozers close together that whilst not earth shatteringly special, look alright enough for a half decent pre-match senses dulling crawl. Well I’m fucking sold, if for the senses dulling bit and nowt else. So it comes round to Saturday morning and I’m out of bed at the disgracefully late hour of half 8, still at least I’ve time for a cuppa, some toast and I’m not tiptoeing around like a Rhino on roller skates trying not to wake Mrs Taz up at daft o’clock, so that’s something. As I head out into the perfectly funereal late April gloom and cold, a 407 sails past me on the main road. Joy. Still, it seems a 410 is a minute behind so I quicken the pace and barely have to check my stride as it arrives and I step aboard.

Erm…..yes please?

At East Croydon, a quick glance at the board reveals a Thameslink is running a shade late, meaning a light jog down the slope gets me aboard before the doors close. Well, if nothing else, I’m travelling at maximum efficiency today, so all downhill from here on in probably. As I disembark in the bowels of St Pancs a quick check of the time shows that I should get to Euston with about 10 to spare before our planned train. Perfect. So collar up, I pound the mean streets of Somerstown across to Euston, marvelling along the way at the fact there are actually people out and about for a change, mainly as when I usually come this way it’s about fucking 7am on a Saturday morning when all sensible people are tucked up in beddy num nums rather than 10 like it is now. As I close in on the station, Mr X calls asking if I need train tickets. “Yes mate, 3 minutes away” is all the conversation that’s required. Inside the concourse, I find the man of Mystery and Indy queueing at the machines. 4Days is scouting out the platform and arrives just as the last ticket plops out the printer into the tray. Cost? 15 quid. “It was fucking forty to get to MK!!” chokes Mr X as he dishes out the briefs. Fuck you Avanti, fuck you. Despite the gravity of the occasion, it’s sparse numbers today, with no Dr bell, no Magnum and the likes of Greek & Robbo deciding that the hotel at the ground and a night out in TGI’s is preferable to our company. No, you fuck off.

We make the train and with it being a bit busy and only about 20 or so minutes, we decide we can’t be arsed to hunt for seats and stand the whole way. That and the Yoof firm are out in force further up the train, in full fancy dress no less. I’ve said it before, I really don’t get the combo of looking like a tit whilst facing absolute certain misery. Sure, I get the fancy dress angle, I do. Bit of fun at the end of a long season, have a laugh by all means. But who the fuck wants to be stood in an away end dressed as Woody from Toy Story when you’ve just got relegated? Boggles the mind it does. Still, each to their own I guess. The only other thing of note at this point is a bloke looking suspiciously like one of the Arsenal Fan TV lot gets on just before we depart. The chat on the way up is mostly of the kind commonly heard from those approaching a gallows, as well as the impressive away following of over 800 we’ll be taking to an Asda’s in the middle of nowhere Bucks. Typical of us to save a decent effort like that for our last game eh?

But….but…you have beer!
Oooh, they’ve got a KFC…

At Bletchley, we hop off and down the other end of the platform, the Yoof also noisily disgorge, drum on the go. “Is that Jimmy Saville I see?” enquires 4Days. Yep, I believe it is mate. Hope the lad didn’t pay full whack for that one down the party shop either, surely that get up should be firmly in the bargain bin by now. Also the irony of someone who’s probably 16 at best wearing that as an outfit is not lost on us. At this point, not fancying getting caught up with them for the walk to the pub, we quicken our pace, just in case their exuberance ends up wasting VDT or worse still, getting us barred entry. As we get up onto the exit bridge, the row they’re making below catches the attention of a couple workers mooching about in hi-vis, with one peering over to see what all the fuss is about. “Is the darts on today or summat?” asks his mate. As I chuckle my way out of the station, I make a mental note to let the MK lot know their marketing still needs some work in the local area. We soon get our bearings outside and make for the pub, with the Yoof’s noise fading behind us. Seems they’re not pubbing it after all?

After a wander down the High Street, we eventually rock up to the Captain Ridley’s Shooting Party and inside, we find Chalmers already at the bar with his other half Hayley and her sister, both of whom are basically locals to the area. We grab a couple, park up and chatter about their upcoming nuptials, PC’s stag do in Malaga (yes we’re going, yes we’re doing shit football and yes there might possibly be a blog) as well as other stuff. As we get our swill on, the local bobbies along with our lot appear, doing the rounds. They seem somewhat surprised to find literally only us supping and looking fucking miserable and not the fancy dress encumbered underage drinking pyro chucking horde they expected. “We heard they were at the station, any ideas where they headed to?” the coppers enquire. We all shrug a shrug that says “No idea mate. And besides, we’re not fucking grasses”. Disappointed, they soon depart back to scouring the mean streets of Bletchley for Jimmy Saville, a Banana and two of the Lonely Hearts club band amongst others.

“Your ground’s too big for you….”
Up in the gods.

With noon passing, we decide to head down the road a bit more to Fenny Stratford, or ‘Fanny Strap on’ as I’ve immediately taken to calling it. Hey, Dukey doesn’t do aways any more, so someone has to step up to the plate and lower the tone. First stop is the Bull & Butcher, where Mr X and I regale Hayley with the time Chalmers tried to kill us in Kazakhstan. As always, he protests and respond with his usual lame excuse of “But did you die though?”, but we persist. “Guess this is why none of you lot are best man then?” Hayley’s sister enquires. Nods from all of us, Chalmers included. Next stop is just over the road at the Maltsters. It’s quiet but there’s some football on the telly. Here Hayley’s sis is mortified to find out some lad she had a rather dull date with once is working behind the bar, something Hayley finds hilarious. We err on the side of caution here and don’t engage in the sort of piss taking any one of us would cop off the others if that was a confession we’d made on an awayday. See, we can be discreet! Ok, it’s not fucking often, but still.

For our next stop, we decide to leave the Red Lion until after and instead go to Chequers after swerving the Swan on the roundabout. Mainly as no one can work out where the door is to the place. And in what’s a nice cosy little pub, we settle in for a couple more and to await the line ups. Now ours we could probably largely guess, but it’s the oppo’s we’re more interested in. Mainly as they’ve secured 4th already and can’t get an automatic promotion spot, so we’re hoping they play the under 12’s or something. At first glance, there’s several changes to the last line up, but on closer inspection, it’s revealed that all the changes are their good players coming back in. Wankers. No wonder the Wombles don’t like them, I can see why. Sneaky fuckers playing proper teams in dead rubbers. Disgraceful. From here, attention turns to getting transport to the ground, which proves to be tricky with spotty signal meaning Uber is a bit of a faff. “They’ve got fucking robots driving about the place delivering Amazon and takeaways and you can’t even book a sherbert!” is my summation of the situation. However, we eventually get enough bars of whatever G they get round here, a couple of cabs are sorted and by just after 2, we’re on the way to the Winkydome.

“And for fucks sake make sure we’re not 2-0 down by half time….”
Allegedly in the wider interests of Football.

Arnold, Hart, Kizzi, Sowunmi, Jackson, Lakin, Adom-Malaki, Sanderson, Beautyman, Coley, Smith SUBS: Kerbey, Fadahunsi, Duke-McKenna, Eastmond, Moore, Clay, John

At the ground, we beep in through the electronic turnstiles (or at least some do, I hear later that a lot didn’t work!) and once up in the gods where we’ve been stuck for todays clash, I make the most of no queue at the tea bar and bag a pie to help get some soakage underway. Fed, we amble into the stand and pick a spot up in the corner away from the main throng. After a reasonable first 10, where Coley gets in behind and tests the keeper and Smith nuts a corner over, the hosts do what a lot of sides have done this season and score the simplest of goals. A little give & go in the box, no one goes with the runner. 1-0. 14 minutes played. Fuck a duck. We try to hit back and Kizzi forces a save with a header before Coley again is denied by the keeper having darted in behind. It’s his last involvement too, as Steve tries to get more bodies into midfield, but again the same old issues haunt us.

Almost immediately and a straight ball down the flank causes issues, it’s worked along 18 and once more a runner pops up to toe it past Arnold and in off the post. 2-0 and half an hour gone. Despite our low expectations, going down with a whimper was not what we had on our minds. As the break approaches, even worse news arrives that Colchester are 1 up. That’s that then. That five goal swing just became eight and that’s before you take into account the “we’re not winning” bit of the equation. Naturally, at the break it’s pretty morose stuff. I take a piss, have a wander around the concourse to explore MK’s enormadome a bit and then spot Mr X nursing a pint, looking about how I feel. Some of the younger lads have seen too many tik toks and are trying to make some row on the concourse, but it’s not fooling anyone. Right, shall we do this one last time then? And please, for the love of fucking god, don’t get smashed boys. Please.

Fighting back! Duke-McKenna makes it 3-2
Ordinarily, we’d be chuffed with that if it wasn’t for the whole ‘Relegated’ thing….

The initial response from the restart is better. With the lads forcing 2 chances and a couple of decent saves from the home keeper before I’ve even made it back to my spot at the back of the stand. Clearly “Operation Kitchen Sink” is in full effect and we’re gonna at least go down swinging. The bright start is rewarded 5 minutes in when Lakin toes in Duke-Mckenna, on for Coley and from a tight angle he absolutely lashes one over the keeper’s shoulder, inside the near post and into the net. Soon after Omar nuts wide from a free header off a corner. TARGET FFS!! They threaten still and another error lets them restore the 2 goal advantage. But we’re in full ‘fuck it’ mode now and barely a minute later, Smith nods down to Lakin, he steps inside and crashes a shot past the keeper from 18 to make it 3-2. They have one chalked off for offside after we fail to clear a properly free-kick, but then the two goal gap is restored again. Ball over the top, lad into acres, rounds Arnold. 4-2.

Steve throws on Fadahunsi to get some more legs wide and instantly, Lakin and Eastmond (on for Sanderson at the break) combine to rob ball back in midfield. Lakin threads it in behind, Tope scampers in and pulls back from the bye line for Duke-McKenna to slam home from 8 yards and double his SUFC tally. 4-3. Ok, we get it lads. And we need to as well, as FGR are now also winning meaning we’re bottom as it stands. Can’t be having that, suppose we’d better fucking go get something from this one now eh you twats? COME ON, 15 TO GO! It’s pretty end to end stuff from here on as they hit the bar on the break and Smith nuts a corner off the bar himself and Tope nods in the loose only for it to be chalked off for some foul no one else has seen. Around now, we hear Crewe have levelled, so they and Colchester have the point they both need, not that it matters any more. We ride our luck at times, but we keep pressing and with added time being announced, Duke-McKenna picks up on the left, drifts in to change the angle and his cross into the box is deftly flicked off the forehead of Smith beyond the dive of the keeper and into the bottom corner. 4-4!! The goal shifts things again, as this means we’re off the bottom again.

Polite Applause.
Goodbyes for some.

In the 6 added, we keep sticking it forward and it’s obvious we’d really rather go down trying for the win than anything else. Fair enough. Last seconds, we win a free-kick out on the right and to our delight Steve Arnold trots up for it. Lakin sticks it in, Smith wins the header and lacking any serious power, it plops into the keepers arms and the ref calls it a day right there. And that my friends is the end of Sutton United’s Football League adventure. We clap the lads efforts as it’s been a sterling second half show, but then again we weren’t really relegated today. We were fucked back in October when we had like 3 wins in 15 and had basically lost the rest. That’s when we should have acted and made the change. Sadly waiting until we got smashed at Stockport in December was far too late. On the pitch, the last two standing are Harry Smith and Sutton hall of famer Mickey Stephens before they too head for the tunnel and we file for the exits.

As I head down, a lot of the young lads look distraught and the two boys who have taken on the drum duties look the most heartbroken. “Chin up lads, it’ll come again. Trust me”. On the way out, we wish various faces a good summer, including Sleepy Joe and Kebab Belly Bob. Right, can we pack up and get fucking drunk now please? Here we use local knowledge as PC and Hayley suggest the Inn on the Lake a short distance away. Sounds a bit classy for us, but we head that way regardless, stepping over one of the biggest dead rats I think I’ve ever seen along the way. We also for some reason don’t learn our lesson from Harrogate and go cross country rather than use a path and are soon squelching along soft grassy ground. “My new fucking trainers!” complains Mr X approximately halfway across. 4Days, who has sensibly stuck to the path is of course suitably lacking in sympathy for the us hikers. The pub is in a nice little spot and we get cosy by the fire to take in the shitshow this season has been and try to kill the braincells containing those memories with beer.

No, really. No one fell in. Or jumped in.
It’s pronounced ‘Fanny Strap On’. Honest.

From here, we head over the hill along an A road before switching to a little stroll along the Canal with others in tow including Vegan Bev. Here we end up at the Red Lion, the pub we’d saved for after, mainly as it’s right by the station and a quick hop back to the mainline at Bletchley. We sink a couple here, with commiserations from some of the locals to warm our hearts. Sadly though a big session is impossible as they’re closing for a private function so with pints downed, we wish everyone farewell and make a dash for the train. We make it in plenty of time and decide as it’s only a couple of minutes, whoever the robbing cunts are on this section of line can go fuck themselves for the fare. Fuck the man! Smash the system! Anarchy RAAAAH! Having avoided the ticket inspector and a hundred quid fine, we’re soon on the train back to Euston from Bletchley. Once disembarked back in the smoke, we head straight for the Tap outside and get two scoops down us as quick as we can. Right, what’s the plan??

We decide to go off piste and do some exploring, finding our way to the Lord John Russell. Here we down a couple more before another change of scenery to some gaff nearby whose name completely escapes me. Here the piss taking goes up a notch, there’s more gallows humour and Mr X’s glasses suffer from rapid self disassembly twice inside as many minutes, leading to us hunting around the floor of the dimly lit pub with phone torches on both occasions. Quite how we escape ejection at this point, I have no idea. Time is getting on though and with last orders called, we bang in one more pint. Before being promptly told at two minutes past eleven to basically drink up and fuck off by a less than friendly landlord. Naturally, this gets our resident publican 4Days in a proper mood. Back out in the rain, we retrace our steps to Euston and hop on the Victoria line to start the journey home.

Nowt wrong with popinjays ya fuckin’ bigot…
Cold. Wet. Drunk. Down.

Once back above ground, Mr X and I leave the others to go on their merry way as we’re absolutely Hank Marvin. So we head to Burger King, but I find the queues too much to bear and with a cheery wave leave the mystery man jabbing his finger at the automated ordering screen. My reasoning being there’s one at East Croydon and I’ll get served quicker there. Yeah right. That plan goes about as well as our summer recruitment as whilst the place is open when I arrive, none of the tills or order screens are working. Fuck my life! Ok, McDonalds it is then. A cheeseburger and a Chicken Big Mac later, I’m on a bus back to HQ having left it as a member of the great 92 72 and returned as Non-League loser. Still, at least I know how to do all that. Also, I wonder if three years in the Football League is enough to claim the much coveted BELT status in the NL? Who do we ask about that?? Anyone know? Christ, three years. Felt more like a lifetime. Still, three is better than none at all I suppose.

Better to be a has been than a never was in my book.


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