“Two seasons running, and the best thing about St Neots is the cheap fucking Tesco”

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Let’s cast ourselves back to 10 months or so, when we last visited the South West Cambridgeshire town that is St Neots. Dorchester Town FC weren’t going through the best of times and the feeling around the club was very much doom and gloom. The game, however, was one of those matches you witness very rarely. An 11 goal thriller with some shocking defending from both sides, ending in a 6-5 defeat, so with that sort of entertainment to compare to, the following season was always going to be a low scoring game of football, wasn’t it?

This season though, things are a lot different. We are fully community owned, the atmosphere is positive for the first time in years and the performances on the pitch are vastly improved than the last two seasons of utter garbage. For the pre-journey meet up, the original plan naturally would be to meet up at Kings Cross station, however, the Hampshire lot planned the less obvious route of Southampton to Clapham, to Victoria, to Finsbury Park, as it would cut half an hour off their journey. Much to the nervousness of Vossy, who has been recommended by Harringay police to avoid the area, as a released ex-con at the prison he works at wants to kidnap him. So as we were at the platform with 15 minutes to spare there was plenty of time for Vossy, Berry, Eddy, Phil and I to head outside and pick up some train beers/latte/sausage rolls.

The journey itself was pleasant enough (even though Eames overslept and was evidently too hungover to attend), where we discussed the game ahead and Vossy explained his Finsbury Park witness protection story.  Berry, after the state he was in from his last away game at Chesham, spoke at how adamant he was staying on the soft drinks, showed us his new student ID and we wondered whether it was in fact Berry himself that is the kidnapper threatening to hold Vossy hostage.

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Seeing as last season we ended up going straight the ground, we thought seeing as we had over 3 hours to spare we’d try and find a local pub to watch the Spurs vs Liverpool game. After we spent 10 minutes trying to figure out if there was even anything in the town that seemed literally divided between the modern and dark ages, either side of the train station. “Feels like we’ve ended up in Poundbury”, bellowed Eddy as we walked out of the station. 

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Good job Google maps was on hand to give us recommendations of the local drinking establishments; including the “low key hotel” that is the Nags Head. We mobbed up in the friendly Bulls Head, which did have BT Sport. Their hospitality was welcoming as the landlord was dishing out chilli and (cold) chips for £2. I declined, but the other lads took advantage of the carb heavy meal, accompanied with a gurt load of bread.

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After what was a fucking dull game of Premier League football, we ventured up to the freshly built Cozy Stadium to meet the other Dorchester fans. Amongst the usual suspects, were delighted to be joined by a lovely Jack Russell, aptly sporting Dorch colours, whom was owned by Sean Tizzard’s new girlfriend.

The match kicked off, and the away side needed to play at a high quality against a good St Neots team, and we certainly did that in the first half, with some terrific passing and moving and some great chances, hitting the bar, and their keeper making a cracking double save from Ben Watson. Which was probably revenge from the stick we were giving him about his florescent orange kit, which looked like “a traffic cone with sunburnt arms”. Going into half time at 0-0 we all were positive in our performance thus far, but cautious about whether we can keep up the momentum in the second half.

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We came back out and the home side got more into the game. We still played some nice football but failed to create as many clear-cut chances as we did in the first half. Shane Murphy in goal making some key saves to keep the scores level, but St Neots landed a sucker punch on 70 minutes, when a cross was headed in by the leagues leading goal scorer, Tom Meechan. It felt like one of those days where the ball just wouldn’t go in for us and in many ways the final whistle felt worse than losing 4-1 to Slough the previous week, as we knew we deserved nothing from that game, where as here, we deserved at least a point.  

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(Photo: Phil Stansfield)

The post match conversation meddled between the usual match analysis chit-chat with the supporters and the players, while Eddy, Vossy and Phil happily gorged on two bowls each of the leftover fish pie that was catered for the players. Worth mentioning also, that the gents’ toilets bizarrely had a Christmas scent about the place, in October, which seemed to proudly host one of those vending machines you find in wine bars which stock paracetamol and condoms. Because where else would you stand a chance of getting lucky, than your local non-league football club!?

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Seeing as we were the last men (and woman) standing, they’d literally closed up the bar we headed train bound, only after we did the mandatory stop at the local Tesco en-route. Once again they didn’t disappoint, with a variety of bargain meals, to fuel us for the evening ahead. Not to mention a couple of bottles of some classy Gallo Family “plonk”, to keep the spirits alive.

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Vossy was in fact, in such high spirits that he agreed to risk the mean streets of Finsbury Park, for more beers at the Twelve Pins and a round of shots. Christ knows why we went for those. The Hampshire lads caught the tube to Waterloo with their bottles of wine, leaving myself and Vossy to head to nearby Holloway, which featured some strange banter and more tales from the nick from his work colleagues who happened to be drinking in the same pub.

So, despite the result, another fine day out from TSOF. It’s the first time this season really, where we’ve come away from a game, not getting a result we deserved, with a clinical striker being the difference between the sides. Onto Tuesday night, where we once again meet our friends Poole Town, which we need to pick up a win to keep in touch with the top teams in this league. Another tough game, sure, but more of the same performance from Saturday and we stand every chance. 

FR

“Who are these people round ‘ere? I’ve just been told off for using the women’s toilets.”

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It’s a Tuesday night in late September, and it can only mean
one thing, DERBY DAY! Yep, for reasons best known to the league, a ‘local
derby’ has been shunted from one of the prime bank holiday slots, and into a
random Tuesday night in September. A sure fire way to enhance the gate receipts
and generate interest in the fixture. To be truthful, although geographically
close, Poole is still a difficult game to get hyped up about. Many will
consider it a pre-season friendly from years gone by, and although it’s a tired
subject now, but Poole’s Tatnam ground is fucking awful, and that’s paying it a
compliment.

But Poole are a good side, and it was sure to be a close
game between two teams who had started well. Was Dorchester gripped by derby
day fever? Well, no, but Dorchester has only ever really been gripped by the
Romans and Oliver Letwin, so no great change there. Onto the evening’s
festivities, and the plan of catching the 1713 train from Dorchester was ruined
early on when it became apparent to Clarkie and I that we were the only ones on
the platform. It transpired that the others were in The George waiting for us.
Organisation on a par with the time General Hill got advance tickets for an
away game, only to realise he had purchased tickets for the wrong day. A quick
pint of ‘Judge Jefferys” in the Brewhouse (JJ was obviously a Dorch fan), and
it was back to the platform to meet the other assembled Dorchies and head to
Poole.

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Clarkie, not wanting to get thirsty at any point before
reaching Poole, had taken 3 bottles of ale with him for a 33 minute train
journey, which seemed excessive but would help him come up with a fine array of
quotes as the night went on. His first observation was in a discussion about
squad depth when he correctly stated that “3ft of MDF” would make of bench
stronger, as opposed to another midfielder. Quite right too, TC. As the train
pulled into Poole, and Clarkie was unsure as to what to do with the unopened
bottle of London Pride, we headed to another pub that was also called The
George but has less karaoke than the Dorchester version. 3 quick pints and a
natter with a few other travelling Magpies, and we had a genuine sense of
optimism as we set off on our walk to the ground. It was on this walk though,
where two shocking facts came to our attention…

 These facts? Phil had turned up wearing trainers, and Steve
Hill had hair. Well, as much hair as we’d ever seen him with. General Hill has
been bald since tearing his hair out when Bournemouth were docked 17 points in
2008, and his passion at football matches has seen him remain that way ever
since. Although we soon realised that Steve’s hair and Phil’s trainers had fuck
all to do with the result of a football match.

After Clarkie had somehow been allowed to get into Tatnam as
an under 16, and Welchy was charged an under 16 price without even asking for
it, we set off to the bar which sadly for Spud had none of his favourite drink,
“Peach Steller Sidder”, whatever that is. Although our first pint was served in
a normal glass, the second was in a plastic pint glass. Can we take them
outside, we asked. No, the reason for the plastic glasses was the Poole
unwanted section of young fans were here, and they had a track record for
trouble. “Bournemouth are about, the plastics are out”, was the superb little
rhyme we got as an explanation.

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So beer-less, we headed behind the goal, which was populated
mainly by away fans, but a good smattering of Poole as well (the expected
arrival of 600 Weymouth fans never materialised) for the first half. One Dorch
fan who did make it was Berry, whose playmobile head was only able to make it
as keeper Shane Murphy had kindly covered his train fare. Good work, Shane. It
was an uneventful half which had little in the way of goalmouth action, but
Poole did force Shane into a decent save and also hit the bar, and we had
several decent openings without really testing Nick Hutchings in the Poole goal.
Hutchings did find himself called into action in a verbal exchange with
Clarkie, who was shovelling chips down his throat at the time;

“Hutchings, you’ve got the biggest instep I’ve ever seen in
my life!”

“How’s slimming world, mate?”

Clarkie’s response? To stand silent for a couple of seconds
before uttering;

“The cunts done me. I like that cunt. Fair play to him.”

There was an odd lack of atmosphere, which has partly to do
with the very makeshift surrounds of the ground, but we also found out that the
aforementioned ‘Bournemouth fans’ had been allowed entry to the ground, only to
be kicked out. However we were able to create a bit more of an atmosphere in
the second half at the covered end of the ground, where the 100 or so Dorchies
were able to congregate and make our voices heard. Clarkie even stood clutching
a bog roll for 45 minutes in the vain hope we’d score (JW would later find 2
bog rolls in his bag that he’d forgotten about). The half followed a similar
pattern to the first in that both teams saw decent periods of possession, but
there again was little to speak of in either goalmouth. Shane shovelled the
ball onto his own crossbar, Watto had a tough chance from the angle, and both
teams wasted set pieces when well placed. But a point was a fair result
overall, even though both teams could have nicked it.

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Much like last season at Poole, the number of travelling
fans was decent, and we were rewarded with a decent performance. The fact we
left with a clean sheet and a point and were a little disappointed with it is a
mark of how far the team has come in a few months. A 0-0 at Poole on New Year’s
Day of last season was only our fourth point on the road, and first clean sheet
away from home. It was a border line miracle. This season, a 0-0 draw was no
bad point gained, but compared to last season when a point was almost
unfathomable coming into it, it almost felt a let-down to come away with one
point here. But we have much to be happy about. Here are 3 things I like;

–         
We have had 12 different goal scorers in league
and cup. In fact, only 3 outfield players to have started a game have not
scored. Who are they? Answers on a postcard…

–         
Charlie Davis has played very well and looks
like a very good addition to the side. After a spell with us previously which
didn’t go to plan, he has fast become a vital player for us with his set pieces
and ability in open play

–         
We’ve kept a lot of clean sheets. Regardless of
goalkeeper or defensive combination, we have looked very solid with only one or
two exceptions. Well, just at Cirencester really.

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And just to balance things out, 3 things I don’t like

–         
Attendances are down slightly, but hopefully
we’ll get back to our usual 450 or so soon enough. Hopefully a decent run will
help attract the casual fan BACK to the avenue.

–         
We seem to have picked up a lot yellow cards
recently. Not a real major concern, but I’m actually pretty happy with the on
pitch start to the season.

–         
Global warming and climate has seen the number
of penguins drastically drop. Who doesn’t like penguins?

So a quick walk around the ground, past the ‘press area’
(two blokes with laptops and a paper sign saying ‘press area’), a kebab and
conversation with the ‘Bournemouth lot’ which consisted of Clarkie shouting
“ALRIGHT BOYSIES”, and it was back to the train and back home. A walk to spoons
, 99p cans of craft beer, and a trip to snappys, mugged off by missing a two
for one pizza offer, and that was Poole away done. A point gained and a decent
night. Here’s hoping that General Hill turns up with dreadlocks for the Merthyr
game on Tuesday. SV

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“Why are all the teams I support shit? I even supported an NFL team the other week and they lost 42-fucking-nil.”

Of all the trips in English league and non-league football,
the phrase “Slough away on a Tuesday night” is one that sounds especially
fucking dull. Slough, a team who were in the Conference in the late 90’s, and a
place which is synonymous with being the setting for the series ‘The Office’
(which I can’t fucking stand), are now playing their home games at Holloways
Park in some place called Beaconsfield, sharing with Beaconsfield SYCOB FC.
Whatever a SYCOB is. Sounds like a villain in Dr Who.

 After a very good start to the season, we travelled in
reasonable numbers with reasonable expectation to Slough/Beaconsfield, but
unfortunately, that’s where the optimism ended. Having worked the day and
swapped part of my shift to enable me to go to the game, I was hopeful of
finishing on time and getting the half 6 train from Marylebone. I should have
known when I didn’t leave work until half 6 that the evening was going to be a
cluster fuck. Undeterred, I caught the train to Beaconsfield (that was delayed
too) in full uniform with whistle and all, and met The Roth and Eames, who had
driven with a delay in traffic along the way, to get a lift to the ground.

After I left the station via the wrong exit, I eventually
found the dynamic duo, and we proceeded in what we thought was the direction of
the ground. Wrong. A ropey postcode had directed is to the VILLAGE surrounds of
Beaconsfield Rugby Football Club and their midweek practice. As the game kicked
off, we were still driving around the arse end of Beaconslough or whatever it’s
called, and it was soon established that The Roth has all the navigational
skill of a Malaysian Airline Pilot with such stunning directions as; “I don’t
know what this means, continue, erm, down?”

Eventually we arrived at the ground, 20 minutes played and
already a goal down. Meeting with the others, we were informed it had been an
eventful 20 minutes already. Firstly, Matt Eames lookalike, Matt Oldring, had
also got stuck in traffic and was named as a sub, with Tony Lee starting at the
back in his place. Once Oldring had arrived, Lee was subbed with the score at
nil-nil to accommodate Oldring, and Lee proceeded to have a physical
confrontation with both the roof of the dugout and an advertising board as he
left the field. Oops. And almost no sooner had that sub been made, Shane Murphy
in goal allowed an innocuous shot to slip through his grasp and creep over the
line. 1-0 down, and things hadn’t exactly started well.

As Fred and I were being informed of this, Oldring gave away
a free kick for handball, and said free kick was deposited into the roof of the
net. 2-0 down, and poor Eames, who was parking the car, hadn’t even got to the
ground yet. I decided it was time for a cup of tea and a burger, and as I
waddled to the burger van, I met Eames.
He had been made to pay full price to see two thirds of a game that his
side were already looked beaten in. He looked every bit as happy as well. The
tea was good though, although Fred’s tea was apparently was “scathing hot”.
Even the tea was angry.

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As I filled my face wing a half pound burger complete with
peppers, onions and tomatoes, the collection of travelling magpies debated what
we had seen and what was needed to spark us into life. One thing was for sure,
we needed a goal. And moments later, we got one. A perfect cross from the right
was met by Jason Brookes to score a stunning volley from 12 yards. Sadly, it
was AWH who put the cross in, and both Al and Brooksey were just knocking a
ball around as subs do at half time. Still, it was a good finish all the same.

The second half started soon after and was a continuation of
the first as we were second best in most departments, looked disjointed, and
misplaced a lot of passes. By this time, we had taken to talking among
ourselves, with this week’s hot topics covering a wide array of bullshit. It
transpired that Spud in his wisdom has declined to make the evenings game as he
had “just sat down.” Quite what it would have taken to move spud from his seat
is unknown, with a series of winches and pulleys or maybe a bottle of ‘peach
steller sidder’ both mooted as possible options. Also absent was Clarkie, who
had been working. The last away trip I had done at Poole had seen Clarkie turn
in a man of the match performance with moments such as bemoaning how he’d been
told off for using the women’s toilets, being verbally done by Poole’s keeper
(The cunts done me. Fair play to him I like that cunt), and somehow getting in
as an under sixteen despite being a giant.

Back to the game and a third Slough goal followed on the
hour, and it all of a sudden had the distinct feel of the worst Kemp/Simkin
masterminded away days. But one thing we are now is a lot more resilient, and
after forcing a couple of saves from the Slough keeper who had to be almost
woken up, we got a goal back after an excellent through ball from Critts was
expertly finished by Brad Tarbuck. Would this start an unlikely comeback? No. A
fourth Slough goal just before time added gloss to the score line for them, and
made sure of a pretty miserable night for us.

Was this an awful performance in which everything that could
go wrong pretty much did? Yes, it was crap. Are we in crisis? Are we bollocks.
This has been a very good start to the season, and we are well worth our high
position in the league. We have the squad and mentality to maintain our
performance levels so far, and games like this will be a vital learning curve
for the management and players. Jem has already admitted he may have got his
early substitution wrong, all the goals were preventable to say the least, and
every team will have off days. Slough were better than us, and how they beat us
was very similar to the manner in which we had won at Cambridge. This
performance was the exception rather than the rule, and hopefully the enforced
break due to our FA Cup exit will do us some good. St Neots will be my next
game, and I’m sure we won’t put in a repeat performance there.

So, Up The Magpies, and hopefully Jem can guide us to a win
in our next game. Lets face it, his navigational skills have got to be better
than Fred’s. SV