“Bunch of pricks”

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Like Eastleigh fans signing about Yaya and Kolo Toure on Boxing Day, or the strangely resilient appeal of Dave Allen, Weston-Super-Mare AFC is one of the enduring perplexities of modern non-league football.

On the face of things they are a club whose ground only Poole could ever be envious of, and whose wage bill only we ever could.  And yet, with a team made up largely of academy graduates and players signed from local regional football, they have excelled, over-achieving as they have with a good brand of football.

What cannot be questioned however, is the fact that it’s always a fucking good away trip. And here, having crawled back home 24 hours after the match has finished, with no voice and a head sorer than Michael Schumacher’s, its clear that it once again lived up to the hype. (If Weston could ever be accused of possessing ‘hype’)

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(Working out our end of season points tally over breakfast. Guess who’s the optimist!)

The day started as all good away days do: In Weatherspoons horrendously early for breakfast. Having been caught in an absolute deluge of hail en route to the station, the day’s drinking rule that the “W word” could not be mentioned in its proper form was suddenly made that bit harder as we boarded the train to find a couple of their lads on board heading up to Frome. Also on board was an old chap of theirs (who I drew the short straw of sitting next to) who, having decided to open a beer, refused to touch a drop of it. Not that that would stop us….

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Plenty of laughs, spillages and shouts of “Drink!” later (not to mentioned a bar carriage down to Taunton) and we arrived at Weston, where we were greeted with the modern day, sub-urban equivalent of the oasis in the desert: A bar within the station. What a fucking idea! Be rude not to. Swift couple later and we headed off to Woodspring Park, where we were greeted with the sight of a rather lengthy queue to get in.  There were many things we were expecting from the day, including the pasting that duly arrived, but a queue? At Weston-fucking-Super-Mare?! Must admit, we didn’t see that coming!

The less said about the game the better. We were utter shite, unable to pass wind, let alone a football. Fortunately for us, there was one performance worse than the teams, that of the referee Mr Rob Ellis. Having missed a nailed on penalty on Josh Wakefield in the first half, Clive Makoni was harshly sent off having gone into a 50-50 with exactly the same intent, stud’s down, in-controlled fashion as Lloyd Irish. Irish stayed down rolling around until such time as the card was brandished, when he made an instant recovery. Funny that.

Moments later, Jem stupidly talked himself into a yellow card, as he ran Mr Ellis through his performance thus far, and when, moments later, Jem caught the heels of the Weston winger whilst being turned, Mr Ellis couldn’t wait to brandish that second yellow. What made it even more infuriating was that merely a few moments later Wakefield was taken out from behind having turned his man on the counter. Result: Nothing. Prick.

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(Wasn’t us, honest.)

With First Great Western living up to their reputation with only the one train running from Bristol to Dorchester (at 9pm no less) we headed over to Bath, seemingly spending the entire journey trying to explain to Fred with growing frustration that travelling down to Bath isn’t eating into our drinking time, as we’d only have to leave earlier further up the line in Bristol.

Tempers calmed as we reached The Ale House on the square, and after a nice, casual pint, Smithy thought it was time to do some shots, as Bailey’s and Lime entered the fray… quickly followed by Tequila and Rum…  quickly followed by the Pièce de résistance: Jagermeister. 

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Unsurprisingly, it’s here that things rapidly descended as drinking games continued, me leaning across the bar whilst the barrels were being changed to remove the ipod so that I could charge my iPhone, Alan being banished outside and it ending with some lady on another table literally pleading for us to take Steve away from them.  All in a days work.

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The train journey continued in similar fashion, with songs, laughs with a few Yeovil fans, spilt beer and Steve ending up in the luggage racks. It also included the rather perplexing sight of some lady coming out from no where and calling us  “a bunch of pricks” as she got off at Frome, as she thought the ‘You dirty northern bastards” chant was in fact, condoning domestic violence. Very strange. Very funny.

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Arriving back in Dorch at 11pm, after 12 hours of drinking, most people would call it a day and retire to bed. Not us. Off to the Junction for a swift couple, before heading onto the George, where the sister of one of the boys was kissed and the ex-girlfriend of another was told where to go. (We have some principles y’know) And when Steve was chucked out for falling asleep on the sofa, we headed up to the Ship to meet up with some of the other London Magpies lot, to continue to drown our sorrows until 2am. Well we did, Steve once again fell asleep. CM. 

“There was a shit on the toilet floor. That’s my type of anarchy”

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They say that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do. So in a week in which I have moved both house and job, I was left a little stressed at times, and asking all the usual questions. What if I don’t like the area? What if I don’t like the people? Will I be able to find my way around quickly? Will I get bundled into a cell and taken hostage by 4 women (that is more niche to my employment, but nonetheless, a possibility)? Well the one thing I find this week is that no one in London knows where Dorchester is. Somewhere between Bournemouth and Bristol was as descript as it got. That and some of my new colleagues were baffled by the fact this small unknown town had a football team. My magpies scarf was the source of much amusement. So when the chance to join the lads on an outing to Havant came along, then why not go and support the team? So, on my first full weekend in London, I decided to go to Portsmouth to watch Dorchester play. And as a Pompey fan, seeing the team I support win in Portsmouth rarely happens. Sadly, this Saturday was no exception.

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(Plenty of beers for a 1 hour journey)

The trip started well enough, no mad rush for the train, and tickets paid for the four of us. So, with frankly far too many beers in hand, and a seats with a table secured, we got down to the business of discussing some serious issues. Things such as just exactly who would play and where, pre-emptively awarding Alan Walker-Harris the MOTM award, and just how edgy had listening to Lost Prophets become since that court case. Other revelations in the discussion came in the form of Tom saying a shit on a toilet floor in a nightclub was his “type of anarchy”, Dr Melvin actually not being as bad as he was made out, Cam pointing out how “a sheep never changes its clothes” (not leopards and spots), and Fred asking Tom what his thoughts on Lady Gaga’s dress from in the week were. The latter of those being one of the more bizarre moot points of conversation I’ve come across in a while.

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(Nothing says working class like Sport Direct cards) 

A short taxi ride and a quick pint in the actually quite nice bar at West Leigh Park saw us all have a good chuckle at Manchester United’s expense as they surprised no one by losing at home again, before taking up residence behind the goal and watching Dorch wearing what would appear to be a kit inspired by the wrapper of a fruit salad penny chew. A look at the side (thankfully Phil himself was not one of the subs), and Cameron having a brief chat with Stuart Heath in the dugout, revealed that the team had travelled by minibus, Heathy wasn’t actually sure who some of the players were, and it was a side so young that they all had ordered Happy Meals at McDonalds on the way up. Despite the patchwork nature of the side, Dorch started reasonably well. A free kick in a good position that is quite possibly still rising and some reasonable possession meant a fairly even start. Not that it was to last as Dennis Oli, once of QPR, nodded Havant into a 14th minute lead.

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(Obligatory behind the goal match photo)

After Havant saw a goal disallowed for offside (not that Fred noticed the flag), Dorch sprung a surprise by equalising with what was actually a very good goal. And excellent ball from Alex Godfrey saw Danny Way stay very composed, cut inside a defender, and smash the ball past Scott Bevan. 26 minutes in and the game tied up at 1 each, despite Fred still thinking us to be 2-1 down. Sadly, what followed for the rest of the game was less remarkable, as the expensively assembled Havant side with some standout players such as Shar Kabba and the very impressive Nigel Atangana (who they signed from some French team – as you do!) ran out 5-1 winners. The third goal just before half time really was a killer, and the second half saw the pace of Kabba cause many problems. With Atangana running the midfield, Dorch found themselves overrun at times, and rarely threatened despite trying to play decent football.  5 was harsh. With a very young side against a very experienced team with some very good players and a lot of football league experience, there was to be no repeat of Sutton a fortnight earlier.

With the players who were old enough to be allowed in the bar coming in before the journey home, discussion centred on how the club can force its way up the table. Well, winning games was the obvious answer. With big games against some of the sides around us coming up, all hope is not lost, despite the perilous league position.  With no one team cut adrift (yet), and possible point penalties for nearby clubs (clutching at straws slightly), there is a lot that can happen in the coming month. The sight of us playing good football was encouraging; the 5 goals that were conceded were not.

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Conversation then moved onto more trivial matters such as current WWE storylines, AWH’s views on just who would win out of John Cena and Randy Orton, my work (I’d love to say more, but find myself prohibited from doing so by the official secrets act), and AWH’s unfortunate pen pic in Havant’s programme of him lying in bed at DCH. The train journey home was a more mundane affair, mainly as I tried to sleep in first class. But being the upstanding citizens that we are, we did allow a woman we met to have one of the beers purchased for the train. Who says chivalry is dead? In return for said beer, she found herself having a photo with us whilst holding a Dorch scarf. The lucky, lucky lady.

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So with a latte and a double cheeseburger in McDonalds, (where Cameron got told off by some Eastern European lady for throwing chips around – a case of mistaken identity though. It was me.) the day ended. The score line gave no hope, the performance offered a glimmer. Some tidy football was played, but more than tidy football will be needed if the club are to stay up. I for one will checking Phil Simkin’s twitter account to see which honest players he get’s to battle in the trenches with him, as the festive program gets going. SV.

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