Just as every single non-league programme article must apparently begin with the immortal lines “Welcome to the players and officials of….” so too must every Sunday morning scribe on here begin with a similar, pointless yet essential traditional preamble. So let us begin.
Beaconsfield. A fucking village. Tinpot. Hadn’t even heard of it until this season. Proper tinpot. What the fuck are we doing here?
Actually, Beaconsfield was quite nice.
It had all the hallmarks of a quintessential Berkshire village: Range Rovers, regional Conservative party office, UKIP posters and of course three village pubs – all gastrosized to the point that they lacked anything even resembling atmosphere.
The first pub we entered, the Saracens Head, was an abomination of a mix between faux-wood country pub cum bistro café. The type of place that had all the characteristics of having been touched by Eddie Mitchell. (That didn’t mean to sound quite so ‘Jimmy Saville’)
(In Berkshire, even the local golf clubs have train stations it’s seems!)
The Bistro interior design had obviously played havoc with Fred’s brain, as while Tom and I started the day off with pints, Fred opted for a latte with cinnamon. Proper Green Street stuff, this.
Already bored of the sound of screaming kids and middle class racism, we hopped over the road to the White Hart where the local landlord informed us that Beaconsfield “gets pretty lively in the evenings.” Of course it does, pal.
Sat down next to a roaring fire and screaming toddler and having not seen each other since October, we caught up on stories of house parties, weekend trips and the tale of my colleague who feel asleep drunk in a brothel and rather then getting chucked out, was instead charged by the hour, racking up a two grand credit card bill in the process.
“There was another Tom in my halls at Uni. We called him ‘Pretty Tom’…. Hang on, that probably means I was called ‘ugly Tom’…. Shit!”
Arriving in the ground, we had time for another quick pint and a chat with the directors (read: Wind up Dave Ring about the Trust) whilst the three of us placed our bets on how long it would be until Evo would first mention that Slough used to be a big club in our old Dr Marten’s day. (13 minutes it would transpire)
As the team sheets came out, hearts sunk and hope evaporated as we realised that we would once again be without Smeeton and Robinson, but also Nathan who was apparently injured (although this seemed news to him). This meant that Robbie Matthews dropped into centre back, with the trio of Smithy, Odam and Walsh playing as a front three, whilst Connor Doe made his debut, bringing the number of pubescent right backs we have up to four.
The boys started brightly but as Slough began to grow into the match, it descended into a two-and-fro of aimless punts in the channels. The highlight of the opening half hour was Tom asking Dave Martin about the Hereford farce: “What are you and your football fat cats doing about it” and Evo pointing out a Red Kite with the excitement that only a Biggleswade residing, bird-table owning person can muster. Meanwhile, we had a shot that went out for a throw in and Slough scored after five minutes of pressure.
Then we scored.
Out of nothing.
A free kick on the half way line was punted up to Matthews, who headed it straight up in the air. As the keeper came rushing out to claim it, Lanners somehow got to it first and nodded the ball over him and into the unguarded net. The goal, visibly gave the boys confidence and they finished the second half on top.
(The sunset shot that was apparently mandatory to post on twitter this weekend)
The second half continued in much of the same vein. Odam, Critts and Walsh in particular looking to run at their back four. But as the game wore on and Slough made a couple of changes, we begun to lose the midfield and the fight began to drain from the players. We fold quicker than a napkin this season and right on cue, after five minutes of concerted pressure from the hosts, we conceded. Their centre back picked up the ball on the half way line, the substitute made a diagonal run behind the centre backs and in one pass the entire team was split in two. 2-1. Game over.
With the game over, we settled in to the now all too familiar routine of drowning our sorrows and dissecting another defeat with the players.
With AWH making his own way home after the match, he joined us for a couple back in the White Hart, where indeed the place had got livelier… if by lively, you mean families and log-fires.
As I waited half an hour to get a few drink, Tom had a mini “Stevie Hill” moment, going into a fit of rage and threatening to snap his glasses in order to demonstrate to AWH how passionate he is about this club. And with that, it was a signal that it was time to head home. Well, that and the last train left in about 10 minutes, so a dash to the station – via the kebab shop of course – and another defeat and another away trip was done.
Up next two local derbies (if you can call Poole a derby match. I dont). I’m dreading Boxing Day right now, but come 9pm on Christmas Day, I’ll no doubt be buzzing for it, convincing myself that anything can happen in a derby match and comforting myself with the thought of singing “Bring home Jermyn” for 90 minutes. At worst, we’ll stay in the pub and chat about jackets for the afternoon. Either way, it’s better than spending the day with the grandparents at Moreton bloody Tea Rooms. CM
(Another one of Stevie Hill’s calm, collected and definitely not over-the-top text messages)