If you look back at the last 2 Dorchester away days at Hitchin, they both had a very different feel to them. A 0-0 draw in one of the most boring and typical ‘end of season’ games 2 seasons ago, and a tight 3-2 loss that all but ended of play off hopes last season. What we would have given pre-game for a repeat of the world’s dullest 0-0 as for the second season running, our trip to Top Field could have serious implications about us getting out of this league. Sadly, we’re looking more at the trap door to Swindon Supermarine and Bishops Cleeve that returning to heady heights of the Conference South.
Not to be deterred by this fact and having nothing better to do with my time off than drink ale and/or coffee whilst reading crime books, I set off on my short journey to the market town of Hitchin and quickly found myself in the pleasant enough surrounds of the first pub I came across, Molly Malone’s. I was soon to be joined by firstly Louise Edney, who for reasons best known to herself ventured over after work, and Fred who had made a late decision to come over as he, much like me, has nothing better to do on a cold Monday night. We should have been joined by Evo, who after being unable to find Fred on the train he had got on soon realised he was heading in the wrong direction. Even on a 30 minute train journey, we still manage to fuck up our travel.
To say that the outlook of the fans pre-game was a bit bleak would be an understatement. Off the back of a 4-0 hiding on Saturday we travel to a team who had won 5-0 on Saturday and had not lost at home all season. My aggregate score in the last 3 games I’ve seen is opposition 12-2 Dorchester. A score that looks more like a rugby score or a good start to an English batting innings in a test match (*cricket satire alert*). Predictions varied from a heavy defeat to a really heavy defeat, the sort that they would have to spell out on the TV videprinter (8 EIGHT)as it was that one sided. To a man we had all accepted it was to be a bad night. I say to a man as there was one woman in our number, Louise, who had boldly predicted a 3-0 win for the Magpies. “I could do with some one with your sense of humour in my line of work” quipped chairman and resident undertaker (actual undertaker, not the WWE wrestler), Matt Lucas.
3 swiftly inhaled pints of Doombar later and it was off to the ‘proper ground’ surrounds of top Field. By this point the team news was in and we once again showed changes from the previous game with Messrs Jerrard, Mehew an d Davis coming in and also, somewhat worryingly, the lack of Ben Wood in the squad. Oh, and 25% of the squad had the christian name of Ollie. With our usual brand of gallows humour and a somewhat care free approach to the game from the fans, Fred took this 1 step further by promptly lighting a cigarette in the all wooden surrounds behind the goal. Fire disaster averted, things on the pitch stated well and against all expectations, we took the lead.
An excellent cross in from the right by Ollie Davis was headed back across goal and into the far corner by Tom Blair for his first headed goal since PE in year 3. It was a goal celebrated with a mixture of amazement and amusement by the fans, and presented a new avenue of cash out opportunities for TC back home who had a £5 double on Leicester at 22/5 and Dorch at 9/1. Just the 85 minutes to hang on for a potential win of £270. Those 85 minutes started with is right under the cosh as Hitchin pressed for an equaliser, but in a pleasant change from recent games, we held firm with a combination of very good defensive work, wayward shooting and some very committed play.
The half time whistle eventually came and it was off to the bar for a nervous pint and a nervous wee for those at the game and also the nerves of TC would worsen as Leicester went 2-0 up. “Let it run Clark” was the advice of Spuddy, and hopefully TC would have better luck than our previous ‘king of the cash out’, Alan Curran. A man who recently cashed out for 3p on a £5 accumalator when the early kick off looked likely to ruin his bet. With the 2nd half upon us, we trotted out to the sizable open end and saw the second half begin much as the first had ended. Hitchin had much of the play but with Shane in good form with a very resolute back 4 of Oldring, Walker, Down and Williams able to repel most attacks, we still held firm. The amazement that we had met our opening goal with had given way to major nerves and anxiety, anxiety that TC shared as Leicester moved into a 3 goal lead and his cash out nudged into the £100’s.
A couple of changes came just after the hour and substitute Lewis Powell missed a great chance to put us 2-0 up and Matt Oldring forced a great save from the keeper. The problem was that the keeper that Matt forced into the save was actually Shane as his attempted clearance nearly caught everyone out. Into the last 5 minutes and the as rain started to fall, the nerves were getting more frayed but we continued to hold firm. Franklyn and John Vance covered an obscene amount of ground and although we would never have said it at the time, we actually saw the last 15 minutes out pretty well as Hitchin seemed to run out of ideas. The final whistle went and was celebrated by players, fans and chairman alike. It was a win and a performance that really meant something to the club and a after a difficult start to the year this is hopefully the start of the proverbial ‘green shoots of recovery’.
In the bar afterwards the mood was understandably buoyant and the players seemed more than happy with their nights work when they came in soon after. The mood was as bright as Matt Oldring’s neon bobble hat and the players already seemed to have an eye on this weekends trip to Redditch, which after a series of false dawns and one off results, putting together a little run to consolidate our position in this league is vital. It’s either 6 defeats in 8 or 2 wins out of the last 3, so I’ll go with the latter and look at the 6 points and 2 clean sheets in the last 2 games.Hopefully after a disastrous start to his tenure, Craig Laird can get some more positive results and look to build towards next season.
As for us fans? This result was a real unexpected bonus and TC was £270 better off for it. We saw a level of commitment and discipline that we’ve not seen in a while and despite being miles away in all the stats of possession and shots etc, the only important stat is the 1-0. The reaction from fans of other clubs was typically measured in that it was assumed to be via virtue of match fixing that we were able to win. A Dorch away win? Only 1 explanation for that, the fix is in. Given out well known budget struggles, I doubt very much that the club is a position to pay the opposition off. Either that or whack all the CBS money on us at 9/1 and split the winnings. TC cared not about any fixing as he celebrated his £270 win and we headed back to London with the 3 points in our back pockets and so ended an evening of unexpected success. Do we only blog when we’re winning? Well, yes. This is our second blog of the season, both coming after wins. But I don’t want to write about a 5-0 loss anymore than you want to read about it. Here’s hoping we can kick on from this result, I’m off to see a Redditch director to see what he’ll accept for a 19-0 Dorch win on Saturday. I hope he likes DTFC stickers and the contents of one of our fans old Sports Direct bags. SV
This photo has no relevance to the blog but needs to be shared with a wider audience