From the moment I woke up on Saturday morning, the omens were good going into another eagerly anticipated away day. From the leftover pizza on the side of my bed, that I drunkenly ordered the night before, to the superstition when as soon as I set foot outside of my building, I had the misfortune of having a bird shit on my left arm, I just knew 3 points at Dunstable were on its way come 5pm. Besides my personal pre-matchday build up though, Dorchester Town FC are going through a spell where many supporters are looking into each game with a genuine belief of optimism. Fresh from an important 3-1 away win at Frome Town just 3 days earlier, Mark Jermyn and his team have been rejuvenated, revitalised and the genuine belief that this club are better than this league suggests. So we had no reason to fear the wrath of Dunstable Town, a side with a heavy budget and a squad full of ex-pros.
Having travelled well to Frome, and a weekender in Bideford coming up, there wasn’t going to be our biggest following of the season to Central Bedfordshire. I left the flat, and met Vossy in a nearby Kentish Town café, before Tom G mobbed up with us and we set towards the train. With this being a league full of shit towns, Dunstable didn’t even have a train station and the nearest options were either Luton or Leagrave. So the 3 of us opted for the latter and hopped in a taxi to as soon as we arrived. We were falsely led to believe by Evo, that Dunstable was one of the nicer towns in the area. Well, he was either having us all on, or he has a hidden fondness to cultural surroundings which resemble a puked on pit, where you’re half expecting an EDL march to appear round the corner.
Seeing as the taxi was taking an age to get through the never ending scenery of department hyper stores, the three of us decided to just get off as soon as we saw the nearest pub, which to Tom’s delight was a Wetherspoons. We hung around here drinking through their fine selection of canned American hipster craft beers and discussed the usual drivel non-league football fans talk about. We then decided to head towards some pubs en-route to the ground, without having a clue how to get there, originally walking the wrong way down their soulless high street. Trustfully Google maps orientated us the right way and stopped by the semi-decent Bird In The Hand pub, just a stone’s throw from the ground, where we caught the second half of the televised FA Cup game, sunk another couple of pints, and chatted more drivel.
We got to the ground in good time, in what can only be described as a training ground with a tiny club house, situated in the middle of a building site. Where we mingled with some more of the Dorch exiles and were joined by locally based exile Edney, who was making her away debut on the Magpie terraces.
On to the match, the only change was Sam Lanahan making a return to the starting line-up, replacing Lewis Morgan, who picked up an injury at Frome on Wednesday. Despite our optimism, the game got off to a dreadful start and a moment our keeper AWH would like to forget, where a mid-range shot bounced awkwardly towards his chest, only for him to parry towards the on rushing Elliot Bailey who slotted home from close range. 1-0 down and only 2 minutes played. And you could hear a pin drop from the home “crowd”. However, despite the poor start we had most of the play in the opening stages and got the equaliser on 14 minutes when a Dan Smith square ball found Nathan Walker, whose shot was parried straight into the feet of Ben Watson, who finished well. 1-1. And the game was in full swing, where Watto had a great chance to give us the lead, only to see his close range effort saved. However, our momentum was to be short lived, as straight away, two quick fire goals from Jamal McKenzie-Lowe found the home side in a 3-1 lead and on paper it seemed like an uphill task. BUT, this isn’t the Dorch we’ve been used to under Simkin and Graham Kemp.
The management dream team of Jem & Critts knew exactly what wasn’t working against a quick and powerful attacking Dunstable side. So we changed our setup by moving Nath into defence, Jem into a holding midfield role and Smithy playing up top alongside Watto. And straight away fortune favoured the Magpies. Soon enough, we won a penalty after Smithy was fouled by Luke Ruddick, who picked up a yellow card in the process. Watson stepped up to take it, only to see his spot kick well saved, but thankfully the rebound found its way to Jake Smeeton and the captain found the net, via a wicked deflection off Ruddick. Video evidence later show it may well have been an own goal, but let’s give it to Smeets eh. He doesn’t score many! Game on. And the ascendency was ours. The topsy-turvy half had another twist when the lad Ruddick went in for a late challenge, picked up his second booking and the home side were down to ten. It’s fair to say that man won’t want to remember this game in a hurry. So, after a bit of even play, the half time whistle blew in 45 minutes that consisted of 5 goals, a missed penalty, a red card and Dunstable’s Adam Watkins calling out Evo to “meet him in the bar” afterwards. More on that later.
The second half began with what seemed like Dunstable trying to kill time and hold on to their lead, which lasted only 10 minutes into the half, when Lanners finished what was a sublimely worked team goal. 3-3 and there was only one side who was going to push on from here. The game went through a somewhat dry spell (by the first half’s standards) for the next 15-20 minutes, but we finally took the lead for the first time in the game on 75 minutes. A Dan Smith free kick was deflected out for a corner, of which was the resulting ball caused a scramble in the box only to find Chris Dillon to fire home from close range causing epic scenes amongst the 15-20 or so Dorchies BTG. Our dominance was showing, and shortly after, it was 5-3 as Portsmouth loanee Brad Tarbuck showed his class to score a brilliant individual goal. We still had chances to really take the piss, but the final score ended 5-3. A superb effort after being 3-1 down.
On route to the bar, were we were looking forward to some post match pints like we usually do at away games. However, we were given another example about how utterly tinpot the Southern League is. Remember when I said the Dunny no.7 Adam Watkins offered out Evo in the first half? Well he hadn’t forgotten and the moron caused the scene he so desired through no fault but his own, attempting to physically attack our supporter, which of course resulted in all of us getting thrown out of their bar. This is a club who have ambitions to progress into the Conference South. Sadly, as we were forced to leave, we split. Louise, Vossy, Tom and I returned for more beers at the Bird In The Hand, before Louise kindly giving us a lift back to Leagrave station where we progressed to that London.
Becoming a growing theme, this performance and result was proud day for Dorchester Town. We have a squad with real character and spirit, and a management team that can really take us forward. Onwards to next game which is Bideford away next Saturday, that promises to be another cracker, what with a weekender planned. As for Dunstable? Well let’s just add them to the growing list of shitholes at this level. FR.