“That’s the worst attempt at control I’ve seen since the stewarding at Hillsborough”

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Well, it was quite a day.

Recent results and performances had seen a strange feeling known as optimism creep into our thinking. Combine that with cheap train tickets from Dorchester South and the importance of the game, the numbers of travelling fans had swelled to a recent high of ten! Two new faces joined us in the form of Ed W (a Dorch fan but away day virgin) and “Manc Tom” (a Citeh fan and mate of Tom) whilst Pagey represented the older faces and showed us ‘younger’ lads up, by getting the 6 o’something train from Yeovil and arriving in Waterloo before any of the pubs had opened.

Both Cameron and I had actually managed to arrive on time as faces new and old gathered in the surrounds of the Wellington. The train from Dorchester carrying our travelling lot was not only packed, but late. So packed that they had to sit in first class. This left Steve Hill with a long walk to the toilet for his 13 toilets trips on the way up, but they arrived nonetheless.

After breakfast, conversation lurched from our expectations for the game, to Cam’s opinion that if a woman has small breasts then a boob job would be appear no different than putting tennis balls up her top. Odd. Thoughts on the game were surprisingly upbeat considering; a) we all moan, a lot, and b) we are second bottom. One of the more truthful and sensible things my Dad said to me was “I can handle the despair, it’s the hope that kills you.” Had we fallen into the trap of expectation and would we now see a good day ruined by 90 minutes of football? Amazingly, no. 

In Tonbridge, we soon found ourselves a good spoons to drink in. This was after Steve spotted a pub, which as Cameron told him, “looked shit”. Steve’s response as “not as shit as your jeans” was a moment of comedy not usually associated with him. With views of the castle, a garden that had a 3G lawn rather than grass (providing a beer garden all year round, rather than one that gets waterlogged leading to a beer garden fixture backlog) and Fred’s doppelganger from his 2006 emo-phase behind the bar, the cheap pints (and eventually rum and shots) soon flowed.

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(Forking the pitch. Geddit…..forking. Nevermind.)

The two Tom’s had their very own ‘Lady and the Tramp’ moment as they both munched on each end of a hotdog (read into that statement what you will). It was then off to the sunny surrounds of the Longmead Stadium (for the admission price of a student for Fred and I) for a pretty important 90 minutes.

With no physio at the game, massage duties fell to Nathan Walker. A worrying thought and a possible explanation for a sluggish start. After an even first 15 minutes, we found ourselves behind as Michael Bakare was allowed to run pretty much unchallenged, and slot past AWH. Bollocks.

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In previous months, going a goal down early would have led to an almost predictable collapse/surrender, but with confidence gained from recent games we deservedly got level just before half time. Nathan Craig’s free kick was parried by Tonbridge’s keeper (who looked like an unfortunate combination of Floydy, Spud, Ed Sheeran, and Ron Weasley) and Critts followed up to level it. We went mental. So much so that Cameron re-injured his back and I fell over, pulling my hamstring still sore from the splits at Eastbourne.

The second half was more even. Tonbridge hit both posts, one after an excellent AWH save keeping it at one each. The industrious Warren Byerley, who was “up and down the line” all game went close with a free header, Nathan Walker hit the bar and the worst award of a goal kick after an obvious save by Ed Spud Floyd-Weasley.

But in the very last minute, it happened. Again.

A corner into the box, pinball, and then the ball in the back of the net. Cue utter, utter pandemonium. Celebrations described as “OTT” by the Tonbridge fans included much hugging, shouting, Nath Walker hanging off the crossbar and an advertising hoarding mysteriously detaching itself from the wall.  Fortunately, whilst we were going mad, Manc Tom had the foresight to whip out his phone and snap us all going “apoleptic” – as Cameron would say.

There was originally some debate as to who scored –  some saying Nathan Walker, others Mark Jermyn (or indeed Mark German as Tonbridge’s PA system told us), and a couple believed it was in fact Clive Makoni who had got it. Three players who are very easy to get confused, it must be said. 

But it was Jem who got it, and the players and fans celebrations at the final whistle showed just how much it meant to all involved. We’d cut it close, much like the haircuts available from our own Jack Twyford (@Twarbers #PhreshCuts), but we’d done it.

This is now a team that not only has the ability to stay up, but has the belief to do so as well. There is a long way to go yet, and the recent wins mean nothing if form is to soon drop off again. But for now, there is hope, belief, wins, and beer. Lots of beer. Ideal.

After the game, things predictably got somewhat messy. A drunken Fuge somehow crept onto the team coach (quite a feat considering he is a giant), and after a short while asleep, he announced his arrival by throwing up all over himself. Back on our travels home, Steve Hill was firstly wrapped in a flag and later loaded into the luggage shelf of a train. As the chant of “Lie down if you love Weymouth” jokingly aired itself around the carriage, Steve decided that that was his cue. From said shelf, without any word of warning, he fell down and broke his fall on a mix of a table-full of beers and Cameron and I. One of the most side-splittingly funny falls since that Weymouth fan, Oozzie, dramatically fell from grace having sparked out a street pastor whilst on the lash.

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Either side of that, Ed kicked a supposedly empty can of cider, which of course turned out to be full and covered yours truly, Cameron winged the flag over the balcony of Waterloo with a horrendous overthrow, only for it to land literally on Welchy and Tom who were wondering around the lower reaches of Waterloo in a drunken haze, having mistakenly got the wrong train from Tonbridge. (Cam would later wake up this morning wrapped not in bed sheets but the part-mould, part-curry sauce caked flag) whilst Tom fell asleep on the overground home and woke up in Dalston.

Great day, great win, and belief we can stay up. Bring on the rest of the season, and if it’s not the hope that gets us, the beer certainly will. SV.

 

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“Are you cold or have you contracted parkinson’s in the last five minutes?”

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It had felt like a lifetime ago (1 month) since I’d last witnessed a Magpies game, or any football match for that matter. So naturally, when I saw the tweet from Eastbourne Borough, saying the game had passed a pitch inspection, coupled with our *ahem* excellent fortunes on the pitch we were buzzing for a day out on “The Sunshine Coast”.

As it does, the day got off to a dramatic start. Meeting Tom and Cam at 11am in the Spoons pub outside Victoria station and Vossy, the one who more-or-less came up with the initial plans for the day and had been going on about it all week, was nowhere to be seen or heard from. The amount of times we had to listen to his voicemail message grew tiresome and as we queued up at the ticket machine, low and behold the devil himself called and told us he was on his way, after “doing a Cam” and having overslept after a night out.  Deciding to now get the later train, he had 40 minutes to get from Holloway to Victoria and fair play to the lad, he made it to the station with 8 minutes to spare. Meanwhile we went back to the pub for a quick snifter and a conversation about the intricacies of Russian porn.

We’d not even got into Sussex and the beers were flowing – as were some fine quotes: “I’ve got a good feeling about today. Either that or its the ten pints of San Miguel rattling around in my stomach from last night"

CM: “…He was apoletic.”

SV: “Cam, do you mean apoplectic?”

CM: “No, apoletic. It’s a mixture of anger and epilepsy.”

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Arriving in Eastbourne to an epic hailstorm, we eventually made it to Priory Lane to witness some fine non-league action. The first half was a fairly even affair with Dorch playing against the wind and went in at half time, happy with 0-0. The beauty of non-league certainly isn’t the standard of football on the pitch, but the characters and the atmosphere that comes with it. Some Eastbourne fans certainly didn’t let us down when it came to entertainment, as a couple of their lot were seething at the polystyrene chip trays on the ground, assuming it was the 5 or so Dorch fans behind the goal who littered. Utter hilarity. We then proceeded to do our community service for the day before it kicked off.

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We encountered a minor scare when Warren Byerley fell and was down with, according to Cam, a definite ligament injury. But in a superb twist, Wozza was back up and running a minute later, completing the quickest recovery from ligament damage of all time.

The second half saw plenty of positives and we took a deserved lead with a cracking strike from Sam Lanahan, whoever he is. The singing from us behind the goal made for a decent atmosphere in the away end. We held on for a fully deserved 3 points, which I don’t mind saying now, was never really in doubt after we scored. I don’t think AWH was even tested in goal, and Nathan Walker, Warren Byerley and Charlie Lasasso all had superb games, as did the whole team.

The post-match drinking duly continued. Firstly in the Eastbourne bar, and then on to the nearby town of Lewes, where we “mobbed” up in the brilliant Lansdown Arms. It was at this point that things started to really get going.

Pints and shots of jägerbombs were consumed. Tom proceeded to drink a bomb, topped with plenty of Tabasco sauce, as punishment for ripping down a Dorch sticker in his local pub, should his visiting in-laws come across it and disapprove.

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(Tom, with a tear in his eye, post Tabasco shot)

By the time we crawled to the next boozer, things were pretty hazy. I have little recollection of being in this rather nice hotel, which apparently sixteenth century political activist Thomas Paine once lived in. It was here that we ended up conversing with Doncaster fans about our frustration of people always confusing “Dorchester” with “Doncaster”, because we are clearly the same club.

Whilst I had a tactical nap, Vossy and Cam amused themselves by taking a couple of antique hunting horns off the wall display and running around the hotel playing them as vuvuzelas. It’s amazing we weren’t thrown out.

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So yeah, that was a moment or so which [despite the noise] flew me by. We then proceeded to a couple of other pubs where Vossy attempted to woo some girls by doing the splits, Cam getting his crotch licked by rather awesome puppy and Tom ordering 2 family sized bags of salt and vinegar chipsticks, hence the dog.

We concluded the pub crawl by ending up back in the packed Lansdown Arms which had a fun fueled atmosphere, kinda how the Old George on Trinity Street used to be back in the day. All in time to catch the last train home, via Brighton, which conveniently for me stops at Kentish Town. Boom!

 It was refreshing to be part of another top quality away day, and with 3 points to boot. Roll on Tonbridge Angels in a fortnight’s time for more of the same.

FR.

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“The Walsall Sleeper?! That sounds like Kamasutra!”

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The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, but seldom do they include waking up in a Premier Inn in fucking Fleet of all places.

Fortunately for this weekend, no plans had been laid. Given the weather at present, none of us had even considered the possibility of the match being on, let alone giving plans a moment’s thought.

Cue a 9am frantic ring round of the boys. “Bollocks, it’s actually fucking on!”

With Fred and Tom already on a ludicrously early train up to Walsall, it was left to me and Vossy to carry the can and head to Farnborough… leaving it as late as we possibly could, knowing that a bit of rain and the game would be off. That and knowing how depressing Farnborough is at the best of times.

Farnborough and financial trouble are football’s Ant and Dec: their fates intertwined to the point that it is almost impossible to conceive of one without the other.  This year is no exception with [the ever honest and never dodgy] Spencer Day pleading a budget only seconded by us. They can still afford to bring in former Stevenage, Dagenham and Barnet striker, Jon Nurse, though. – perhaps Spencer Day wasn’t being 100% honest. But with that knowledge in hand, we naively believed we might actually do the impossible and win a match. Of course, it wasn’t to be as some proper schoolboy defending once again cost us, whilst ironically, a schoolboy was the brightest thing to come out of the game. We’ve a player in Dan Munday.

With the pitch acting as a perfect advert for 3G turf, the ringing endorsements came in the form of a group of Merthyr fans who had taken in the game having seen their match at nearby Fleet postponed. Being fans owned and owning a 3G pitch, I was in my fucking element. 

Our esteemed guests for the day had already booked hotels in Fleet, with a heavy through-the-night session planned. As the drinks flowed, we agreed to join them, not actually believing we really would!

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(“Football should be played on grass” Yeah, would be nice wouldn’t it!)

Post match, we carried on drinking in the Cherrywood bar, watching England succumb to an early surrender that even Dorch would be proud of. Fortunately for me, our Welsh friends had no interest in rugby, so I was spared the usual levels of abuse that often accompany our Leek-loving friends of an oval ball disposition. 

As the pints continued to flow, the conversation turned to our mutual dislike of Poole Town fans and the conundrum of how you can be so arrogant when you have so little. A swift train journey to Fleet and the drinks continued, firstly in the local, before heading to Propaganda (the generic name for a nightclub in a small town, of course.) A ‘few more’ rapidly descended into ‘more than a few’, as out came the Jagerbombs, shots and JD chasers.

With the last train back to London rapidly approaching and Vossy having an early shift of Sunday tampon stacking the next day, we split: Vos back to Holloway via a 2-hour night bus journey, me back to the local Premier Inn, via more shots, the acclaimed Jaxx Nightclub (not a brothel as the ever-so helpful bouncer kindly pointed out) and acts not deemed suitable for a family friendly blog – for that is what this site certainly is.

Good job next weekend is a quiet one…. Just the small matter of a pre-defeat session in Lewes. Bring on the Southern League and the obscure and unreachable away trips, giving us a well deserved break. Can’t be doing this each week.

We’ll manage Merthyr alright though. CM.

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(Ahh, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney. Those famous Farnborough legends)