“Don’t make it worse lads, I’m having a shit night as it is”

Well, we all knew what a kick in the balls getting relegated to the Zameretto Calor Stik Beezer Homes Southern League would be like. A far cry from visiting luxurious hubs of English football such as Staines, Boreham Wood and Basingstoke, we now get to visit some isolated pieces of land that nobody has either ever heard of, or desperately try to avoid, like Biggleswade, St Neots and Poole. Having definitely been reading this blog over the course of last season, the big cheeses at the Southern League clearly wanted to reward us with 2 quick fire away days to start the season. And they couldn’t have been any kinder, sending us to greater London destinations Arlesey and Burnham.

We have actually had some meetings with Burnham in the past, back in the old Dr Martins Eastern division in the early noughties. Christ knows how we got on, but we probably stuffed them, like we did with most sides back then. Anyway, as it was Cam’s birthday I promised him we’d take a half day off work to make an afternoon of it in Berkshire’s finest. Having hopped on a post lunchtime train from Paddington and figured as its local, we thought it’d be rude not to have a few cheeky beers at a staple TSOF drinking town, Maidenhead. Few drinks down, we headed back towards the station via the famous Honeypot where we noticed our Sutton based hombre’s Gandermonium sticker outside, so naturally we stuck one of our own above it.

5pm, and we duly arrived in Burnham. No word of a lie, it felt as if we had landed in Dorchester’s very own Castle Park with almost identical streets and road names, I half expected to find Stevie Hill stumbling through the alleys chanting AFC Bournemouth songs at full voice. Seeing as there was practically fuck all within a kilometre, we duly found a drinking spot. Where else, but an Italian restaurant/bar called Tammies (“Tammies?! Ain’t that what northerns call tampons?!) Tampons or not, to be fair, it was rather pleasant. This was to be the rendezvous for Vossy to arrive, at which point we agreed that Cam would have to down a shot of jagar for every goal Dorch scored that night, which greeted to the usual generic responses on twitter, such as “yeah cheap night then lads!”  Of course, they (and we) were thinking logically… or so we thought.

As we walked towards the taxi rank, the heavens opened, literally. Flash flooding occurred, and we were adamant the game was going to be called off. Arriving at the ground, where we met with the small mob of Dorchies who drove up, the rain had eased off slightly and thankfully the pitch seemed in good “Nick”, so the game went ahead.

We kicked off, with the ‘Pies wearing our all yellow away strip. We came out of the blocks and BOOM! Ben Joyce has put us ahead after 30 seconds. Before we even had time to celebrate, Burnham lost possession straight away; Danny Smith fed a cross to Dan Cann, who overhead kicked the ball into the top corner. 2-0 up and we hadn’t even played three minutes. Ridiculous start, which only got better six minutes later. Nick Crittenden smashed it home to made it three and got his second to make it 4-0 inside 25 minutes. Burnham frustratingly pulled one back shortly after and we went in at halftime 4-1 up.

The second half saw us play some more lovely attacking football with Critts getting his deserved hattrick, and the first a Dorchester player has scored in the league since Jamie Mudge back in 2008. FT: 5-1 and what a terrific response from Saturday, much to the delight of the away fans behind the goal. While still looking suspect at the back, we looked electric going forward and with that kind of attitude, we’ll be more than fine this season. Let’s just hope for consistency eh!

Back to the bar it was where we did the usual mingling with the players with Cam staying true to his word, drinking a shot of jagarmeister per goal. Yes, we scored 5, so 5 shots it was! We certainly should keep setting ourselves these ridiculous challenges. If it means we’ll score a fuck tonne of goals, then I’m happy. 

FR.

(Ed – The affects of Cam’s “fist” of Jager and a 5-1 win, hit on the train home. Not too shabby for a school night)

“That’s the problem with London. You get into Waterloo and you don’t know whether you’re on a train or the tube”

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It’s always the same isn’t it?  You wait all summer for the trip to Arlesey on the opening day and then have to make two journeys there in one weekend.

Still, if you’re stupid enough to leave a hardly inconspicuous, 10ft St George’s flag on the platform, you’ve only got yourself to blame really.

Sadly, I would love to say that was the only fuck up of the day, but that would be far from the truth, as will become clear…

The first fuck up came before the Dorch lot had even left town. In a rare move of forward thinking and initiative, Steve had pre-booked the tickets on the Friday night. All well and good, but he had somehow forgot to ensure that the tickets were booked for the Saturday, not that same day. One argument with a jobsworth train guard and forty quid each later and the boys were en route to Waterloo – scene of fuck up number two.

In taking advantage of South West Train’s special offer, Steve had booked the tickets in two separate legs. Dorch to Waterloo and Kings Cross to Arlesey. Now, the more eagle eyed reader will notice that there should be a leg in between – namely, Waterloo to Kings Cross – you would be correct. But evidently, things aren’t that simple, and so it was left for the six of them to each run through the barriers at Waterloo tube, with, I imagine, the grace and subtly only Jean Charles de Menezes could admire!

We met them at the Euston Flyer for breakfast where conversation naturally turned to the price of pints in London, the dread of derby day in a few weeks and the drinking rules for the forthcoming season. It was here that we learnt that Glees wouldn’t be play as there had been a fuck up with his registration after he pulled out moving to Poole at the  11th hour during the summer.

Having ran for the train, half of us settled into first class to sink a couple more cans, whilst the other half bottled it and slummed it in cattle class. The trip to Arlesey is only half an hour long, but with Steve and Phil on the same trip, time tends to stands still. See, these two argue more frequently and more spectacularly than Nigella and Saatchi did in their heyday. And with each other completely missing each other’s point with magnificent aggression, the journey took an age. Fortunately, with only half the lads at the tables, we had plenty of beers, so whilst Steve and Phil went at it hammer and tongs, the rest of us slumped into our extra-wide chairs to drink until the noise disappeared.

Arriving at Arlesey, we popped into the first pub, where the plan was to order two taxi’s to the ground. And it was here that the realisation that we are now in the Southern League really hit home.

It was, according to the landlord going to be impossible to get a taxi as no taxi firm would drive out to the tiny village for a five minute journey. Out best bet lay in the two-an-hour village bus. Half an hour until the next one so plenty of time to sink a quick round in the sunny beer garden.

Fuck up number three (or four?) came on the bus to the ground, when it struck us that the vast majority of us had not taken out cash in London, fully expecting there to be a cash point in Arlesey. It’s going to take a while getting used to this Southern League lark aint it!

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Once a couple of lads has shouted everyone else, we arrived at the ground just as the game kicked off, where we headed round to the terrace behind the goal, to watch a half in which we dominated possession, but missed chance after chance after chance.

At half time, everyone knew what would happen second half. There was certain inevitability about it. Something we had witnessed countless times last season. Having should have been out of sight at the break, Arlesey had one chance second half and took it – AWH fumbling a cross that landed at the feet of their striker to tap in. New season, same story.

With a worrying sense of panic and agitation, passes were forces, shots were snatched and three winnable points were dropped.

Now if there’s one thing we learnt last season, that was how to drown our sorrows. And that we did. Stevie got the first post-match round in – a £30 round of Jagerbombs and from there it, naturally, descended. [Ed – the full story to this according to Fred is: “Who else would have bought a round of jagarbombs just because he said the word ‘Plymouth’ and everyone else went ‘ooooh you said it’?”] As the players came out in flip-flops and shorts, because the club aren’t doing tracksuits this season, refreshing honest and frank conversations were had until the effect of the jagers began to take hold.

With Ben making his Same Old Few debut and our players on the coach home, the challenge of a Zulu Warrior drink off was accepted by Arlesey’s towering centre back. We had tried to get Rufus Brevett to partake, but in the end we settled for him officiating the duel between a 6ft4+ brick shit house and,… er, Ben.

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Ben duly lost of course and with a head soaked in the left-over beer, we somehow managed to persuade the bar maid to give us a lift back into town (presumably as we didn’t feel fit to take public transport but felt it fine to jump into the back of an old lady’s car?!)

Assembled back at the Oak and with an hour or so until the train, we sunk a few more. Just a nice, quick, quiet few? No. Not a chance! With the space of the hour, Steve had spilt a pint down himself, Tom was on the table belting out ‘Africa’ by Toto for some reason, Phil had gotten his remarkably over-sized bollock out, which in turn led to me getting throttled by the bloke next to us after I, admittedly, massively over-stepped the mark of what’s acceptable to say to another man’s girlfriend when drunk.

The thirty second walk back to the station for the Oak, seemingly took 10 minutes, as we wrapped Steve in the St George’s flag and threw him into every bush in sight. The line was finally drawn and attentions turned to the station when we were told to do one having tried to chuck Steve into the back of a van, whilst a couple were unloading their items having just moved house. Seems fair enough in hindsight but at the time I thought he was a boring old bastard!

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On the train home, we happened to sit opposite a cute young couple who were heading into London on a date. Leave them alone to enjoy the evening? Hell no. By the end of the trip, they had been up on the seats singing a lovely duet with far more ease [and grace] than Keith, Steve was [once again] bundled up into the luggage rack in something that is now becoming a ritual and none of us had realised that we had left the flag on the platform.

Back in London, we all went our own way, as the Dorch lot once again ran through the barriers only to lose Phil and Tom who jumped on the wrong tube and only made the last train back to Dorset with “20 seconds” to spare.  Once on the train, Phil and Steve proceeded to have one of their famous ‘rows’ (they really need to be seen to be believed) which apparently consisted of them shouting “HOW MANY FANS CLAPPED YOU OFF?!” (He meant players, not fans) and “I DON’T TRUST SIMKIN” at each other whilst the lady next to them bellowed at them to “SHUT UP!”

It’s never dull with Dorchester. (It is –  We have Burnham away tomorrow night. Christ.)

CM.

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