“Every tinpot town has a pub called the Wheatsheaf. I bet there’s even a Sutton sticker in the toilet”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“Why would he want to come back? Last time I saw him, I headbutted him in Goldfingers.”

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So in the same way that apparently Fleet is more than just a service station, it turns out that Frome is actually a town, and not just a river that runs through Dorchester. Who knew, eh? Frome is not a place I’d usually look to spend my Wednesday evening, but having come back to Dorchester for a week of well deserved (kind of) leave, watching the recently galvanised Magpies seemed a good idea.

Ina pleasant change from the usual running for trains due to eitherFred/Cam/myself being unable to tell the time or be arsed to get up due to
hangovers, instead, it was to be a car trip to Frome in Steve ‘The General’ Hill’s
motorcade. But disaster struck at 1pm when Berry and I received an official
communication from The General’s office stating he had been struck down by a
severe illness. However, with the club running a coach to the game, Berry and I
would travel on that, along with a good blend of Magpies fans and a strong
sense of optimism that we’d get a result.

The
journey itself was straight forward enough, although we were a man light as
Nibbler missed the collection time and the coach left without him. There were a
good number of faces on the coach, and also some very stylish backpacks,
including a little claret and blue number that made Clarkie look like ‘Dora The
Explorer’ on steroids, or indeed that he had just mugged year 3 pupil at Damers
First School. One or the other, if not both.

The
coach journey was an amusing hour or so, with some good debate about the
current state of the club, thoughts on the evening ahead and how we all
genuinely thought we’d get a result. A rumoured potential new signing was
one moot point, with Spuddy’s input on the subject being;

“Why
would he want to come back? Last time I seen him, I headbutted him in
Goldfingers.”

Well,
quite, Spud.

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There
were however some different topics of conversation that involved reminiscing
about away trips of recent years gone by. The original Maidenhead trip and how
Clarkie recalled that the honeypot was a good ‘crack’ (sic). How Richards was adamant
that Mark Tyler who played in goal for Luton in the FA Cup that day was in fact
really short, like 4ft short. “No Luke, it’s because we were at the top of the
stand”.  

Luton away was a good day, and in the lead up to it, one
Dorchester fan was so keen to go that he considered breaking the conditions of
his electronic tag and licence to make the trip. “I’ll only do 14 days back
inside, won’t I?” Loyalty to the Magpie cause.

But
enough of trips past, as the coach pulled into Frome, the focus shifted to the
game in hand. Frome is a nice enough little ground, with a pitch on a reasonable
sized slope, a very good social club, and an odd array of front doors that
double up as turnstiles. Letterboxes and all. 

The pre-game atmosphere was
helped when Frome’s keeper over hit a cross in the warm up, which then struck
Ben White in the bollocks. A couple of pints of the rather nice 1904 ale and
some tactical sticker placement were the standard pre-match fare, and a look at
the team sheet showed one change from Saturday’s loss with Matt Oldring coming
in for (always take the) Lanners (with you).

The
same formation with a slight change of who played where saw us start pretty
well as we kicked downhill, and we had the better of the chances as the half
wore on. Despite the hosts hitting the post (either saved or deflected, I’m not
sure but will give AWH the benefit and say saved), we were the better side and
should have scored after Dills saw a header saved, the rebound was blocked on
the line by some mush from Frome. Bastard. But just before half time we did get
the goal we deserved when Dills was able to bury a free header from a corner
and spark some rather enjoyable celebrations. You could see by the players and
certainly by our reaction, that this goal mattered. There is no bad time to
take a lead, but doing so right on the halftime whistle was as deflating for
Frome as it was beneficial for us.

The
first half had a few other talking points, with Nathan Walker threatening to
rip Frome’s number 5’s head off at a corner, Clarkie refusing to walk half way
around the pitch to use a toilet, choosing to just piss in a nearby bin, and
Spud going one ‘better’ by watering a small section of the grass behind the
goal. Clarkie also took a rather curious line of interaction with the
goalkeeper asking if the keeper had “a number for ISIS so I can burn my
Mother”. Yep, we didn’t get it either. 

Clarkie’s one man campaign against Frome
also saw him call some elder Frome supporters ‘helmets’, a word which they had
no idea what sort of context it was being used in, and also making a yelled
enquiry to one of our former players, Jack “I’m a baller” Tywford  as he asked, ”Ere,
Twarbers, how does sitting on the bench here compare to the Avenue’s bench?
#baller my arse.”

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The
second half started much as the first had finished with us having most of the
play, and just before the hour, we made it count as we got a second. Bradley
Tarbuck’s cross wasn’t properly cleared, allowing Nathan to smash in the loose
ball and embark on an Alan Shearer-esque celebratory run behind the goal,
with one arm aloft high five’ing any fans hands, or indeed portions of chips that
were within reach. 

We were playing well and added a late third as (always take
the) Lanners (with you) headed in a free kick at the far post, despite their
‘keeper seeming furious that (always take the) Lanners (with you) had not obeyed
the shout of ”KEEPERS” and left the ball alone. Frome did score from a
deflected cross-cum-shot, but to be perfectly honest, those of us behind the
goal didn’t really care as we’d got another vital 3 points as our upturn in
form continues. VALIANT.

A
couple more pints in the bar afterwards, and quick chat with the players was
cut short when the coach eventually arrived to take us back to Dorch. It was a
largely uneventful return journey, although Welchy nearly missed the coach as
he accidently followed 2 Frome players to their car, Goddard sent us a vine
informing us just exactly what ‘The Roth’ was cooking, and Clarkie struggled
with the dynamics of using the toilet in a moving vehicle. Clarkie was soon to
fall asleep, and hopefully will return the bag to its six-year old owner at some
point today. But other than that the return home and one final stop in Snappys
capped off a good night, with another solid performance and three more valuable
points.

The
mood around the club had changed massively in a short space of time, and even
the prospect of spending my afternoon in Dunstable seems quite alright compared
to how things have been in previous months of the season. The celebrations of
the players after the goals and their reaction at the final whistle shows how
much the wins mean, and long may it continue as we look to build on this
current momentum. 

And hopefully Spud will stop attempting to attack potential
transfer targets in local strip clubs. SV.

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(More Fromians/Fromavarians turned up for Darts than the football. Probably quite understandable when you’re in the relegation zone of the Southern League – hark at us, now!)

“Would you like a smoothie or a cranberry juice for your period?”

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So Dorch are back, lads.

That spirit, that fight, that arrogance.  Same old Magpies, taking the piss. Andy Harris, Danny O‘Hagan, Matt Lonnon, Mark Jermyn. Oh Mark Jermyn.

It‘s far too early to be saying this of course, but for a moment on Saturday it genuinely felt like finally we have our club back.

Of course, it could have just been the copious amounts of ‘complimentary’ pints but it was a bloody good feeling whatever it was.

For those of us who couldn’t make Truro, this was the start of a new era. A new dawn, but the same old shit of Fred texting the rest of us to say he was running late and might not make the train. Pretty good going given he had an hour to get there and only lives 15 minutes up the road from Paddington. Still, it wouldn’t be an
away day without us running late – and as we sprinted down platform nine, Vossy
with McDonald’s burger in hand, me with Caffe Nero [scolding] all over mine,
new dawn or not, fuck all had changed from our point of view.

As we arrived into
Reading, we popped into the café to pick up a couple of cans for the twenty
minute second leg (!!) and onto the connecting train where we were joined by
Jake and Steve from Dorch and Phil, who had jumped on at Southampton following a
night out, looking like he was fresh from the walk of shame – dressed as he was
without a jacket. (Of course, he wasn’t on a walk of shame we should add– Hi
Lucy!) Good job it wasn‘t 3 oC outside and he later had to wrap himself up in
the German flag to keep warm. 

Jumping off at
Hungerford station we were greeted by the welcoming sight of The Railway
Tavern. Lovely.

Even if it did lack a
barman for the first 15 minutes of our occupation, one thing it didn’t lack was
an Eames, who, not reading the group Whatsapp message properly, mis-read the London
lots arrival into Reading at 11am as Hungerford, and promptly arrived into the
village an hour ahead of everyone. Pleb.

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As we sat and sunk the
pints we hastily agreed a date for our trip to Hamburg in May, cleared up
exactly what did go down in the bar on Boxing Day (fuck off, we are not grasses) and all agreed we‘d accept a
point from the day. Little did we know….

Moving on to the next
pub, we managed to get split up and get lost (some feat given its a village of only 5,000
people!) before stumbling in to the Plume of Feathers to be joined by Dev and
his old man, who had come down from Worcester. Oh, and Fred Dibnah, like.

Heading up to the
ground, swift pint and a daddy of all pisses and we stumbled out to the
freezing cold where Dorch were shooting down the [sizable] hill first half into
a goalmouth that could only resemble The Somme in winter. (Or the Avenue, after
about the sixth game of the season.)

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As we did at Truro, we
lined up in a 3-5-2 with Walks pushed up top once again and Jem playing in the libero position at the back. (‘Libero‘
for those who are unfamiliar with the word, is an Italian football term meaning
‘old man with no legs’.)

From the word go it
was all us. The back three dealt with everything will calmness and measure not usually seen from a Dorchester side. In the
middle Glees finally looked the Glees we all loved and underrated, whilst Morgan next
to him was absolutely everywhere. Up top, Nathan was the spitting image of
Danny O‘Hagan, bullying defenders and being an absolute handful whilst resembling anything other than a centre forward. Watto next to him was the perfect foil,
playing off the last man, stretching the defence. Smithy meanwhile, was playing
in a free role just behind the two strikers, in what the Italian‘s call a ”trequartisti” role (trequartisti of course being the Italian for ‘already laboured
joke‘). 

After just five minutes of intense pressure, the home side, who had
only conceded three at home all season, scored for us. Dillon‘s long throw was
nodded on by their centre back and their left back Steve emphatically flicked
into the net, top bins. Turns out though, that his name isn’t Steve at all –
its Diak. Fuck knows where we got Steve from, but it rendered the constantly
harassing of ”Steeeeeeeve” pretty fucking useless.

The half continued in
much the same vein: constant Dorch pressure. Watto missed a couple of good
chances, and as we begun to think aloud “fuck, we could really do with a second
here if we‘re going up the hill second half” up popped Nathan at the back post
to stab home and grab the all important second on the stroke of half time. Cue
mayhem. And plenty of half time refreshments.

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For the hill it was,
it didn’t present as much of a problem as we feared. And whilst Hungerford had
more of the ball, it was us that looked the more threatening. Watson, Walks and
Tarbuck all guilty of squandering chances, but take nothing away, we went to a
team who hadn’t lost all season, had only conceded three at home all season and
utterly dominated them. If it was five-nil they couldn’t have complained.

As the full time
whistle went, the players quite deservedly got a rousing round of applause,
whilst the hosts were treated to Evo and I taking a [slightly OTT] selfie
outside of their changing room window. The guilt soon evaporated when we
found out that our lads’ hot water was turned off/ran out within seconds of them
jumping in the showers, cue us sticking it straight up on twitter and generally
being very ungracious in victory – including the long-ago promise that we‘ll
drink champagne when we finally win away again.

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As we continued to
drink and celebrate, the Hungerford bar staff closed up for the night, leaving
us in there by ourselves. We may or may not have
had a ‘few‘ more on them.

Heading back into the
station we popped into Tescos to get a few for the train and in our drunken haste, walked in – still pints in hand –  leading to the inevitable outcome of us not getting served. But fear not, whilst we pretended to
be outraged and demand to speak to the manager, with a sly nod and wink Eames and Steve slipped round the side and
bought more than enough for the journey home.  Cue: ”This is absolutely outrageous?! Why? On what
grounds?”….
[nod]…. “Nevermind, its not a big deal. Have a lovely evening,
thank you for you help.”

Back in Reading, we
popped into The Three Guineas (totally unnecessary by this point) where we had
a sing-song with visiting Sheffield Wednesday fans and bumped into a couple of
Maidenhead fans. (I forget which group. They have more factions than a Weymouth
message board.) before heading home, to wake up Sunday morning, still fully
clothed but without anything resembling a voice.  This maybe a new era on the pitch but fuck all has changed off it.
One day, I‘ll have to grow up.

Bouncer: “Lads, calm
down. I don‘t want it kicking off in here!“

Steve: ”Why the fuck
are we going to kick off? They‘re Sheffield Wednesday, we‘re Dorchester Town.
Of course we‘re not going to kick off.”

Same old Magpies. Taking the piss. CM.