It’s been a week of firsts for those involved with Dorch. Our first derby win since time began, Jem’s first goal of the season, the first time the bulk of fans actually seemed happy and the first time I ever had a kettle thrown at me at work! (Not to mention the first time someone has been assaulted with a pie to the face during derby day goal celebrations!)
So, with my newly fractured cheekbone and all, I decided to try and cheer myself up with a trip to St Ives to watch the Magpies and see if we could build on this promising start to the season.
Standard operating procedures were adopted for the Saturday morning meet, in that it seemed needlessly early to me and I was, naturally, the last to arrive. Five of us boarded what was effectively the ‘Southern League Service’, stopping at such non-league hotspots as St Neots, Hitchin, Arlesey and Biggleswade en route to Huntingdon, which happens to be the nearest station to Cambridge City’s temporary home at St Ives.
It was a relatively uneventful train journey in which Fred expressed his regret at his “assault” on Ben White after “pie-gate”, the group debated if Matt Oldring’s tackle on Monday was either perfectly judged or an ill-timed tackle (depends on your perspective or allegiance, really. Probably/definitely the later), and just how well can this current team do in this league.
Pulling into Huntingdon, Tom pointed out a large manor house on the hill and declared that it is the ”biggest Weatherspoon’s in the country” – to which one person who shall remain nameless – let’s call him “Fred” for arguments sake – bit hook, line and sinker. Sometime the obvious ones are the best.
Upon arrival at Huntingdon, a short taxi ride would take us to the rather quaint surrounds of St Ives, where the priority became finding somewhere to withdraw cash, followed by somewhere to drink. Well, if gastro pubs where the cheapest item of food on the menu is a £7 ciabatta that is best served with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc is your thing, then St Ives is a must visit for you.
However, for the ‘alehouse cloggers’ on an away day, it’s probably not a suitable destination. Especially with Ash the others from Dorch set to join us. So, eventually having found a pub that was still hopelessly above our station, we sought shelter in the beer garden as we are all at least £25k below the average wage of most of the customers inside and stood out like a sore thumb/fractured cheekbone.
Soon we were joined by three more alehouse dwellers as ‘The Fast And The [Ashley] Jurious’ arrived with ’Pinky and The Brain’ (aka Phil and Steve) They arrived in style with Steve looking like a Dulux wall chart of beige to brown, and the always-summer-attired-cider-slurping Phil looking like a combination of a member of ISIS, a satsuma and the Next summer menswear section.
Cam meanwhile shared the story of Gosport‘s manager Alex Pike speaking to the local radio following a recent game, boasting how they are now more professional with Phil Simkin acting as scout and they had inside info on the opposition, before seamlessly going on to explain how they have to change formation after just twenty minutes as their intel was all wrong.
Given my cocktail of painkillers and anti-depressants, I popped to the local Greggs for a latte and 4 sausage rolls, and was struck at just how similar St Ives was to our very own South Street. From the situation of the Card Factory right next to Clintons, a Waitrose, a farmers market, a town crier and a branch of the Edinburgh Woolen Mill (that Cam would no doubt raid for a fine selection of Cashmere winter jumpers) it was basically a grey haired bloke picking up pennies from the floor away from being Dorch.
As the clock ticked to half past 2, we thought it best to make a move to the ground for the three o’clock kick off. Turns out we needn’t have bothered as the team bus had broken down near Basingstoke, and the players didn’t actually arrive at the ground until 3pm. Still, that gave Phil plenty of time to sneak in on his student ID card before ever-so blatantly passing it back to Steve, who subsequently flashed it to the watching lady on the gate who enquired:
”Is that really you? You look very different nowadays”
“Yes, I’ve lost a lot of hair since then”
“Yes, well in you go then”
It could have been more obvious. Wonderful.
As we waited for the newly put back 25 past 3 kick off, we became aware of a few things. Firstly, there were a lot of people with teeth missing in the ground, The General shared a similar taste in shorts as some elderly members of the home support and that Charlie Davis had replaced Jem, who had elected to rest himself after the tiring exploits of ruining the bank holiday Monday of the 6,893 away fans. Would the delayed kick off and any possible hangover from Monday effect the side against a good Cambridge side? Would it fuck.
After a good start in which we had a lot of possession and created a couple of half chances, we took a deserved lead when the very impressive Charlie Davis caught out the pink clad home keeper with a free kick that crept in at the near post when most were expecting a cross. Going forward, we looked exceptional. With the excellent Tarbuck behind Jonah and Watto; a very enterprising midfield; and superb support from the wing backs in Oakley and Smeets. We looked as good as I’ve seen in a while.
Cambridge had one half chance, and we had several, but couldn’t convert any. So at half time our lead was narrow at 1-0 and there was a fear as I sipped my cup of tea (that came from an actual teapot!!) that it would be a case of missed chances potentially costing us.
We really shouldn’t have worried.
It took all of a minute for us to double our lead as Dills was able convert Jonah’s centre following a corner. Cue a celebration that somehow saw The General suffer a war wound as he managed to cut his hand and bleed all over the terracing and at least two good pints being lost to a small grassed area in front of the plastic (or polystyrene as Cam called it) terracing. Two-nil would soon become three as Bradley Tarbuck took advantage of a back line fuck up to calmly slot part the keeper, and with half an hour to go it became a case of how many would we win by.
It should really have been more, and sadly for us, Watto continued his unwanted consistency from the penalty spot as he saw his effort from 12 yards saved after a shirt pull in the box. But despite numerous chances, no one was going to complain about another win and another clean sheet. 3-0 the final score and it was as comprehensive as it sounds.
The bar afterwards was somewhat quiet, so it was decided to add some background noise by putting ‘Sweet Caroline’ on the jukebox… y;know for the authentic home away from home feel. The players soon entered, and it was good to see a lot of smiles and a very relaxed atmosphere among the whole squad. The squad also looks a lot stronger than previously, and with a bench consisting of Jem, Critts, Neil Martin, Tony Lee and Shane Murphy, there are five players who could quite easily start. Shane even scored in the supporters game last year, so that’s five possible outfield options.
Speaking of keepers, AWH made himself at home by using the school boy-esque dressed Dabbs (who had travelled up on the team coach) fetch him some cake and buy him a drink, even offering to get some products to improve Dabbs’ somewhat tired looking pointy shoes.
It’s usually the fans asking the players questions in the bar after a game, but Jem turned the tables and put it on us this week asking a question which he fully knew the answer to:
“Have you seen my goal against Weymouth? Apparently it’s on youtube.”
Yes, Jem, Yes we have seen it.
Cambridge’s manager, who clearly took defeat well, came over to tell us how it will be a different story in the reverse fixture as they had players missing and had to call on kids and “Spanish waiters”, who work at such highbrow outlets as Pret a Manger before moving on – and no, I’m not making this up – to tell us how he was a London lad and how its now full of Somalians and Irish. And with that -and Tom reminding him that our Kenyan striker tore his team a new one during the match – we left.
And as the team bus departed for a hopefully smoother journey home, and The Roth decided that he wouldn’t eat the muffin that Jonah had left behind, we would depart in convoy back to the surrounds of Huntingdon. Our stay at one pub was cut short when it was reported that one of our number had pissed in a bucket rather than the toilet, and Cam showed what lengths he’ll go to in order to have a free meal as his ill-advised decision to try and run to catch a train caused Tommy Harrison to have an asthma attack. Cam’s solution to all this? Pinch the poor sods battered sausage and chips as he wheezed on the platform.
(Ed: Yeah, no, we‘ve no idea either)
(Ed: L-R: Tommy post asthma attack, Tom, Cameron, Tommy’s chips)
The journey home with saw The Roth meet a colleague from work who he had once shared small talk with over the hot tap in the works kitchen was as exciting as the “train bantz” (Yes, really) were on the way home, although the red sock boat shoe wearing tap banter’er did call Fred a ‘”little scamp” and flicked his nose as he left the train. Cute.
But soon it was back to Kings Cross and back to trying to overcome my phobia of kettles so I can actually make myself a cup of tea again.
So, summarising it was pretty much the complete away performance, with conversation now looking at if we can possibly exit this league via promotion rather than relegation. Some say we would have been second had we beaten Frome or Dunstable, but equally we’d be in the Champions League had we won every league game over the last seven seasons. There is a big change in the mood of the club from 12 months ago where we were manager-less and had just handed the leagues then whipping boys Banbury their first win of the season.
Mentioning 12 months bring me neatly to the fact that is nearly a year to the day since the tragic and sudden death of Alex Legge, a man who no doubt would have enjoyed Saturday’s performance as much as any Magpies fan. Alex wasn’t someone who I knew particularly well, but I know several who did, and his passing was a sad loss for all associated with the club and all who knew him. Gone but not forgotten, and brilliantly remembered by AWH who’s goalkeeping gloves have the letters ‘FKM’ emblazoned on them. RIP Gangsta, and up the Alehouse cloggers. #FKM. SV.