Last year was one of the worst seasons in recent history for our club. But going into Saturday’s game away at Chesham, we were undefeated in 2015 and were yet to concede a goal. Well, we played one game and drew it 0-0. But with the recent removal of Hereford’s results, it became official that we are in the shit. Big time.
But if there is one thing we as fans got used to last season, it’s watching away games in the London area with the team stuck in a relegation battle. So the trip to Chesham was no different. Chesham itself is a rather nice little market town, the sort of town that Cam said he could see himself settling down in when he has a wife and kids…. “Yes Cam, but the wife and kids will be living in another part of the country”.
Chesham’s big plus point besides several pubs is that it’s accessible by tube. So with Cam meeting the Dorch lot at Waterloo, myself, Fred and Messy met them at Baker Street tube, and we looked to head to our destination with Welchy declaring: “I was meant to be shagging a bird in Salisbury today, but I thought I’d come here instead.” Wise move.
“So where is Chesham? Wait, what, there is a zone 9? ZONE FUCKING 9?”
Even those of us who have lived in London for a while thought it only went up to six. En route, the Dorch lads had purchased alcohol – the younger Ward having opted for white wine as the most efficient pounds-to-units consumption. Typical student. What he hadn’t factored in was that he had opted for a corked bottle, not screw cap, and so whilst we waited for our train to the London Underground equivalent of Narnia, we were treated to Cam trying to smash the cork out with the sole of his shoe. He failed, but was able to force the cork inside with his keys, so Rob could happily swill from the bottle on our Metropolitan line train. The hour straight tube journey was straight forward enough and was oddly like the Dorchester West line to Bath as we stopped at the London equivalents of Yetminster and Chetnole. It was made even more like a day in Dorset as Spud offered me an egg mayo soaked copy of the echo.
Spud was man in form. With a new mobile number, he had text Cam telling him to hand himself in following the Boxing Day fracas, saying there were witnesses who saw him lump someone. This of course is not true, but it did have Cam a little concerned for a few hours as we all guessed which Weymouth affiliate had actually sent the messages. Well played Spud, well played.
It also became apparent to me that with their hats, jackets and jumper combos, Welchy and Fred looked like they had just come off a fishing trawler. So would Chesham know what had hit it when 2 fishermen, 2 screws, a bar room brawler and 2 Ward’s rocked up in their town? Well, yes.
After Welchy, Spud and Robbie had jumped the barriers as the tickets they had were only valid for zones 1-6 (even TFL staff were unaware zone-fucking-nine existed), we headed though the delightful surrounds of downtown Chesham and it’s multiple coffee and book shops to the George and Dragon pub – a pub which had its own resident giant. A ‘couple’ of pints and very in depth chats about the hot topics of darts, tinder vs happn and Russian prozzies vs English ones before we headed towards Chesham’s ‘The Meadow’ ground to see what surprises the team sheet had to offer.
It had several. The biggest being that our number 9 for the day was Nathan Walker. No Critts, Parrett or Mason due to injury, Ben Watson out due to a fax machine malfunction and the surprising yet highly humorous sight of a bench consisting of Alan Walker-Harris in an outfield player’s shirt. Although according to Al, he can play a bit and is “a slimmer version of Dan Cann, but with a better touch.”
Thankfully though, before the game, AWH had lent Nath a pair of boots with the promise that “there’s goals in them if you want ’em”, and he was right, as after a long throw from Dills, Nath duly stabbed the ball in. 1-0 up after about 5 minutes, and the realisation set in that we had probably scored 85 minutes too early. But with 23 minutes gone and after some non-existent marking from a free kick, an unmarked header at the far post to levelled the scores. To be fair, the rest of the half was reasonably even, and kicking downhill second half, getting something from the game was not inconceivable.
Unfortunately the second half was not what we had hoped for. Not only that, but we were joined by four Chesham teenagers that would at best be described as “total pricks” who chose to stand near us with the sole purpose of antagonising us with ‘banter’ similar to that of a six year old and impressions seemingly of Joey Essex – although they never could work out how to mimic my whooping cough that made me sound like a terminally ill goose. The fact that the four little pricks weren’t flat packed by the 10 or so of us behind the goal does somewhat go against the perception that Dorchester fans now like to watch Green Street before games and fight in bars afterwards (#DME). But despite not being able to spell GCSE, let alone have one between them, the Chesham branch of Mensa would have the last laugh as they would eventually run out 3-2 winners. A bright start from us was made meaningless when Chesham took the lead on the hour after a through ball evaded our defence, and 2 became 3 on 80 odd minutes when some fella from Chesham got away from the defence too easily and laid on an open goal for some other Ebenezer from Chesham to pass in the vacant net.
(Wooden fence pole for the stay. Southern league, that!)
We did have chances in the half as well as Nath forced a good saved from their keeper with header, and he also had a couple of other chances he on another day may well have taken. We did get a late second to set up the proverbial ‘grandstand finish’ as Matt Oldring’s exceptional mazy run resulted in Nath heading home a looping Lanners cross, but it was too late. Another battling performance, and certainly an improvement on some of what we’ve seen this season, but again, we weren’t good enough. Another defeat and another step in our sleep walk of a journey into a relegation scrap.
So in an effort to drown our sorrows, we headed to the bar, where the Chesham university challenge team having obviously heard what happens in bars after we lose, downed their pints in what must have been record time made a swift exit. In the bar we were treated to a meat raffle and some curious fashion choices. Matt Oldring’s choice of headband was interesting at best, as he has little more hair than Cam, Critts had an RAF pilots jacket from circa 1940 on, and the blinding nature of AWH’s lime green trainers was quite frankly shocking. Cam also asked the barmaid if Chesham had a strip club. Her response? “A what?…A Waterstones?"
The post-match analysis was quite grim, and the stats are not good. Although we would have no doubt lost that game about 4-1 this time last season, we have now taken 15 points from a possible 54 under Kemp, and I’m afraid that is not even close to being good enough. The squad itself isn’t actually that bad, but there seems to be little organisation and direction, and we just lack that winning attitude. Going forward we do carry a threat, but defensively we just look like a ticking time bomb. Every time teams come at us, we look vulnerable, and that’s as much an issue in the middle of the park as it is at the back. We seem to get overrun regardless of formation, and lack what in old money would be a nasty bastard in the middle of the park to break up play and do the simple yet necessary things that at the moment we aren’t doing. This is no dig at anyone personally as I know and get on well with some of those who run the club, but change is needed as we have sleep walked into a real relegation battle, and going down into the Southern League S&W Division is unthinkable. I think I’ve played at the standard not too far below that, and I’m shit.
After a couple more pints and further discussion on our current plight, we headed back into Chesham town centre to the Red Lion pub, some by foot, and some of us by the back of AWH’s van. Travelling in style indeed, especially when Spud was DDT’d out of the car by our chauffeur. After another visit to the George and Dragon, and after Welchy and the brothers Ward had headed back towards Waterloo, supposedly heading back to Dorchester, Cam, Fred and I headed for a curry and were hit by the realisation that we were all knackered. A trip to the tube stop with Cam not so subtly forcing his way through the barriers was made pointless when we found we had another 25 minutes at least until the next tube. So back to another random pub for a half where Fred got propositioned by a 50-something-year old. Err, time to drink up and go chaps.
The tube home seemed a lot longer than the journey there, but after creeping out poor Claire of Gandermonium fame on twitter to much hilarity, Cam’s route to Balham wasn’t helped by the fact he naively put a TSOF sticker over the one part of the tube map he actually needed to see. But come midnight, I was back home and dreading my half 8 start on Sunday for a day of dispensing the Queens Justice to those committed by the courts.
But if I thought my Sunday would be bad, I found comfort in the fact that rather than go straight back to Dorch, Welchy and the Wards decided to get off at Bournemouth instead, find a hotel (the first three rejected them) before heading over to the nearest casino. After Spuddy lost a tonne on 10 minutes and Welchy fell asleep at the screen, they deemed enough was enough and decided to head back to the hotel where Spuddy asked the receptionist “Where can I get a whore from? You’d know!” before marching around the hotel bellowing “I’m getting a whore tonight!” On Sunday morning, Robbie almost made Welchy sick after electing to use the toilet facilities with the door wide open and Spuddy choosing to lie in bed for an extra hour as he deemed it a bargain for an extra tenner. That bloodline has serious issues. Spud needing no less that 5 sit down toilet trips across the course of Saturday, with one using used hand towels as they were out of toilet paper. But they returned to Dorchester almost 36 hours after leaving it on Saturday morning – their dad having rung the eldest brother asking for their whereabouts, the youngest having calculated it’d taken a week off his life expectancy and Welchy tweeting on Sunday morning "Chesham away hasn’t finished yet. I’ve had some depressing days, but this is up there!” To think he could have been shagging a girl in Salisbury instead.
So, that was Chesham, another case of better but still not good enough. Four points from the next available six is an absolute minimum, with Saturday’s game at home to Banbury now ridiculously important. Will I be at Chippenham on Tuesday? Yes, courtesy of AWH’s van and some #vanter, I will. But change is needed as sadly, we are where not second bottom due to bad luck and injuries alone. We could actually be bottom by 5pm on Saturday. Ouch. The ‘at least we have a club’ argument does not stand up, and we cannot afford to persist with this amble towards relegation. There must be a managerial change before this gets to the stage of attempting to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted towards places such as Swindon Surpermarine, Larkhall Athletic, and Fleet. Seriously, we could soon be playing against a team that as far as I knew was only a fucking service station. But at least if we do play away at Wimborne next season, there shouldn’t be any need for Welchy and Spud to fork out for a hotel. Or whores. SV