“Didn’t you get chased with a baseball bat away at Bradford?”…. “Na, it was with a knife at Swindon away.”

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, welcome to the gift that keeps on giving, the apparent insanity that is watching Dorchester Town FC away from home. Given we’re a club that has won 6 games in total on the road in the last two seasons, an away win at promoted Wimborne last week was as surprising after the home shambles vs The Met as it was welcome as got our first points of the season. The drawback? It gave us the dreaded sense of optimism as we planned the trip to Salisbury for the first chance us London exiles have had to see Thommo’s new look Magpies this season.

I say new look, other than the fact that we now look like a team of people more suited to tarmacking a motorway than playing football in our luminous green away shirt, the squad and the side has an oddly familiar feel to it. 11 of the squad of 16 were at the club last season and it’s the recruitment that has left some feeling a little deflated heading into the new season. But a 4-2 win at Wimborne was certainly enough to make it seem like we were on the right track, and there was a sense of cautious optimism that has caught us out so many times before as we met at Waterloo to get the ritualistic group saver and head on our way. Having chosen what I still consider to be an exceptionally anti-social train time of 1020, Goddard, Gray and I made our way to Salisbury with little event or incident discussing the usual combination of nonsense and bollocks. Tales of Walsall vs Portsmouth games gone by, Goddard’s excellent new t-shirt that he was to wear for the occasion, but his daughter and her yogurt had other ideas about, and speaking of a bygone era when you could have pint behind the goal and not have a steward shout at you about it.

After a few beers on the Friday, I was not in a rush to have a pint on Saturday. This was probably for the best as General Hill, Berry and the others travelling from Dorch has gone to a pub so far away from the station that I may well have died of thirst on the way on any other day.  After walking what felt like two thirds of the way back to London, we eventually found the others and they weren’t difficult to spot. Not only did we have Berry’s gurt swede acting like a lighthouse, but the DTFC flag draped outside the Bridge Tap was a bit of a giveaway. It was in fact so obvious, they were asked to move it by the bar staff. After a round that was so expensive it even made us faux Londoners wince, we decided to visit one of the other dozen pubs the others had walked when the left the station and found ourselves in the far more cost-effective surrounds of The Deacons. This was where the day started to take shape as one by one we managed to convince ourselves that we’d get something, ranging from a credible point to a convincing win. It’s also where General Hill would sow the seeds for his day as at 1pm, it was considered Jager bomb time. Twice. In hindsight, not a wise idea, and the warning signs were there as he made a habit of tucking his shirt into his boxers after visiting the facilities, wee spot and all.  We were also joined at the Deacons by Eames who was seeing his first away game since a rousing 3-0 defeat at Biggleswade. A game that was only notable for the fact the TC won the half time draw but not a cash prize, rather a tin of highland shortbread. Eames may well see his next game in 2020 after this.

Biggleswade Biscuit Crew

We arrived at Salisbury’s ground to see that we were reasonably well supported, a solid 50+, which for us isn’t bad at all, were there and as we named an unchanged side from the win in the week, we headed behind the goal we were attacking. Oddly, the Salisbury fans elected to stay behind that goal as well. Which just seems plain weird to me. But either way, we started pretty well with some neat football and a couple of shots to show for an enterprising first 10 minutes. We looked decent, but then, as if by magic, when the clock hit 15 minutes past 3, we were transported back to 2014 and remained there for the remainder of the game. Careless freekick given in a wide area, resulting free kick not dealt with, second ball lands at opposition players feet, 1-0 down. The good work was undone, and we found ourselves chasing the game, something we never looked like doing. We had the odd decent passage of play but continued to look a touch vulnerable and never really threatening as the halftime whistle blew.

A half time pint was on the agenda for others, which was a bridge too far for me as you can’t drink anywhere outside of the bar at Salisbury (they did have the good grace to let us know this in advance of trying…), but curiously a combination of drinking and looking out the window at the pitch isn’t allowed. El Générale would find this out at his peril as the second half went on, a half which we once more started reasonably brightly but found ourselves undone in a most routine way, this time a header from a corner, by ex-Magpie Jake Wannell, which seemed all too easy and all too familiar. From there on in, it wasn’t much of a fun watch. We stopped seeing the unmistakable head of The General pop out of the bar windows like a balding human version of whack a weasel, and we’re still not sure if he saw the third goal which was the worst of the lot as a punt forward by the keeper from a back pass ended up with a converted one on one with our keeper. 3-0 down, game over and that feeling that we’d seen it all before emerged again. This was further compounded with Callum Rose being sent off as well. Full time did not come quick enough. As we trudged off the pitch looking like a dejected bunch of groundworkers, positives were at a serious premium. The only ones that spring to mind Cameron Murray looks a very good addition to the side and anything we did well went through him, the quality of my cup of tea was reasonable, and Nibbler could wear the away shirt and still carry out his stewarding duties as it’s that fucking bright.

We popped to the bar to see where General Hill was, but he was nowhere to be seen. It then transpired that he had left early, either by his own volition, or he’d been asked to for committing the cardinal sin of drinking a pint of house Carlsberg whilst looking at the window. And possibly swearing loudly. Either way, communication with him by phone was difficult, possibly as he was pissed but equally possible is the fact he’s unsure how to use this sort of modern technology. As we got a taxi towards the train station, the cabbie told us that the pub Steve had said he was in was nowhere near fucking anywhere, which begged two questions, how had he got there, and how was he going to get back? Well as we got on our train to Waterloo armed with, in my case, a samosa and some Maltesers, it became apparent from his texts that The General had to drown those sorrows of his. Until 2am. In Bournemouth. When eventually his girlfriend came and picked him up to transport him safely back to DT1. An impressive feat but not as impressive as the time JW, Spud and Robbie Ward managed to make Chesham away last almost 48 hours by staying a night in a Bournemouth hotel.

All things considered, it was a disaster of a day in footballing terms. After 3 games it’s far too early to say we’re going to achieve nothing, but the early signs aren’t great. 1 crushing win sandwiched in between 2 at best disappointing results is not what we’d hoped for. In a new league where several of the teams are an unknown quantity, it’ll take a few games to get a good idea of where we are, but after several seasons of quite frankly being pretty shit, a cause for some optimism would be nice. I, like most other fans, trust Thommo to make good of the season, and who he brings in soon will be interesting to see. The fans forum on Tuesday apparently provided useful updates on where we are as a club and how we look to progress, and with the new pitch and after all the work that has gone into that and other aspects of the club, certainly off the pitch we are in the best state we’ve been in for years. Here’s hoping the on-field side matches that obvious progress soon as I can’t see that Mrs General will be too keen on the idea of a 4am collection from Staines away. SV