We all make mistakes in life, and I can only apologise for the error I made in the last blog from the Beaconsfield game when I referred to that result as rock bottom. This was rock bottom. It was a 90 minutes with no positives as we lost 5-0, got what was at least our 7th red card of the season, failed to have a shot on target, kept us rooted to the bottom of the league, and on top of all that, there was no Bovril. We were a distant third best in a two horse race and our form is so bad that ahead of tonight’s game away at Swindon Supermarine (yes, that’s their actual name), the bookies think that a 5-0 home win is more likely than a 1-0 Dorch win. Can’t blame them after Saturday.
As with most days following Dorch, all was well until around 3pm, although not entirely without problems. I had woken up with a hangover 2 hours later than anticipated and ended up not meeting Fred as planned, so he headed off towards Hayes a bit earlier to meet Dev. I instead met Kinners before taking the short trip to Hayes and Harlington before a walk across to the ground. All seemingly straight forward, but this was never going to be the case. Berry and Steve on the way from Dorch ended up stuck at Wool for an hour on a train before a further delay down the line making them 2 hours late and arriving at the ground near to half 2. One can only imagine what the conversation was like there during those delays. And despite the short journey for Kinners and I, one lucky person found themselves £20 richer after Kinners withdrew but forgot to pick up his money from the cash machine. So despite planning to arrive together, we all turned up at different times. Good start.
Hayes itself is at best a strange place and one that makes me thankful for where I’ve grown up and lived. Walking to the ground was no major issue but a mooch through the town on the way back reminded me of A wing association. The ground itself is one of the strangest places I’ve watched football. One huge stand, by non-league standards, and 3 sides of absolutely fuck all. Not a roof or a bit of terracing in sight. It also has one of the biggest pitches you’ll likely see which lends itself to pace and being able to stretch a game. Not a day for a lack of pace of being narrow. More on that later. The strangest part of the ground was the bar, which would appear to have been put in the boiler room. One door, no windows, exposed pipework and cabling all over the place and a feeling that this was never the plan. The part of the stand that looks like it should be a bar and the ‘executive box’ type area is still a building site. This is a ground that has been open for a while now an it doesn’t even feel close to being finished.
After a coffee and a can of Fanta, it was time to look at the team and the start of the slight sinking feeling. Aside from having to warm up on a neighbouring AstroTurf and although a stronger side than 2 weeks prior at Beaconsfield, the size of the pitch would likely mean Hayes were a side who moved the ball around quickly and with a lot of space to move into at pace. A central defensive 3 of Nathan, Jamie Laird and Frankie was imposing but might be exactly the kind of defence that Hayes would like to play against. Both Kyle and Neil being on the bench and Sa and Wright starting in the wing back-come-full-back slots also raised an eyebrow. Lowes, Winnie, Rowthorn, the lad from Bristol Rovers with the beehive hair and Bath completed the line up as Shane was retained in goal. Pre-match optimism had been checked a bit, but based on nothing other than the fact I must have still been hungover, I still retained hope we could grind out a result. Then the game started.
Barely a minute had passed before a somewhat needless foul from Sean Wright gave Hayes and free-kick in a wide area. As we set up to defend, Nathan could be heard bellowing; “BATHY, MARK THE CUNT”, and although it may not have been Tom Bath who didn’t mark the cunt, someone did not heed Nathan’s wise words. A glancing header later and we were 1-0 down. No more than 2 minutes gone and it was already looking like a depressingly familiar story. We relied on a combination of luck and good goalkeeping to keep it at 1-0 before we worked a couple of openings which led to nothing, but we did at least string a pass or two together. During the very early stages of the game, a Hayes centre back went down with what looked like cramp, which was staggering considering we’d hardly played a high pressing quick tempo. He recovered but he could have stayed on the floor and it would have made no difference overall, because in effect, the game was over after 25 minutes. Ben Rowthorn receiving a straight red for a challenge that was needless at best, and at that point the game was only going one way. Was it a red? For me the 2 stage theory of working it out is; Did it look bad in real time? Yes it did. And if it was a Hayes player doing that to one of our players, would I be screaming for a red card? Yes I would. It was a stupid challenge deep in their half and even giving the referee a decision to make was daft. One thing that was noticeable was how their players surrounded the referee in protest at the challenge, all we mustered was Nathan shouting “get around him, the cunts made a meal of it”. It was almost a sign of resignation at what was to come.
A second Hayes goal followed soon after, as did a small chant from the home fans of “going down” at us. “I’ll give you fucking going down”, yelled Steve, before quickly realising he has basically just offered most of the home support oral sex. Luckily for Steve, before he could get on his knees, a third goal followed as Jamie Laird, who looks like the father of Craig rather than the other way around, was unfortunate to turn a cross into his own net. Salt was rubbed into the wounds as a 4th followed in injury time, so at halftime, we were 4-0 down, down to 10 men, had been outclassed in all departments, used 2 of 3 subs, had only Shane to thank it was only 4-0, and Steve had promised to nosh off the home fans. Great stuff.
As we queued for some food and a hot drink, Kinners and I had a quick glance at the South-South West league below us and wondered aloud exactly what pubs in the Mangotsfield area were like. “Have you boys given up already?”, asked a Hayes fan in the queue. “Did you see that fucking first half?”, was the rather obvious response. As we chatted to this bloke, it turned out he was the Dad of Hayes’ number 6, and as his son had passed him on the way off for half time, his only observation was “their number 5 is a fucking animal.” Our number 5? Nathan. At least one of players had made an impression on the game. We weren’t sure which of the animalistic tendencies it was, but besides the shouting and swearing, 2 Hayes played did go down with suspicious foot injuries at set pieces. The cause of these was never explained. Kinners had also text his other half telling her that Dorch had been so bad that he believed he could do a job them. Ms Kin didn’t quite get what was being implied and genuinely feared that he may end up working for Dorch. Not sure I’d wish that fate on anyone at the moment.
After the halftime Foo Fighters and Muse greatest hits had died down on the PA, it was back to the game and hoping it wouldn’t be too much more embarrassing than it already was. We held out until the hour mark when the 5th goal crept in, and thankfully that was it for the scoring. The only reason it was only 5 was some excellent saves from Shane, and I’m reasonably sure we failed to register a shot on goal in the whole 90 minutes. Results went against us as well meaning we are now seven points off safety having not won in 12 league games. It’s a big ask to stay up, but I can’t give up hope just yet, even if it is a monumental ask. Realistically, it will need about 8 wins from the last 16 games, or as Steve pointed out; “that’s half our games”. Helpful as ever.
We stayed in the boiler room/bar for a couple of drinks, speaking with the Chairman (or Mr Peacock as Wimborne refer to him as) as well as Nathan and Frankie. It was a pretty low mood but that’s to be expected after what I’d class as the lowest point I’ve encountered supporting us. It is the lowest of the lot for my money, even compared to some of the Laird/Brookes lows and conference South relegation, this was a tough one to take and one that hurt. Escaping the bowels of the building, we took an Uber back into Hayes for some more association and headed to the local Spoons, where the bloke in front of me at the bar made his usual order of takeaway garden peas. What else are you going to have in a pub on a Saturday night. A few drinks to try and get over the 90 minutes followed, as did the discovering of the fact that Kinners has not seen us win since 2008 when a Ryan Moss goal helped up beat Bognor Regis 1-0. That game also notable for the birth of the 12 Magpies of Christmas and 5 PATRECE LIBURRRRD. It’s not like he hasn’t seen any games in that period, he is either very unlucky, or we are not very good. I suggest a combination of the two. As Berry, Steve and Dev left to catch the last possible train and Steve rushed back in to grab his pint but still managing to forget his scarf, tried to smuggle a pint into an Uber by holding his coat by his face and then had to run for a train, Fred and I soon headed back to London and back to our respective homes from there to reflect on another grim 90 minutes in another wise entertaining day out.
The ‘new manager bounce’ hasn’t really happened for us, and after what sounded like encouraging signs in the home defeat to Truro, any good work was undone in a shocker of a game on Saturday. We’re slipping further away from safety with every passing game and recruiting players who will better the squad is a hard task for a team in our position. We can’t give up on the season yet but unless we start picking up points from somewhere soon, it will be too late and having to google trains to Melksham. It’s obviously a defeat that hurts some of the players a great deal, but will there be a big enough reaction from the rest of the squad to improve performances? I really fucking hope so but that remains to be seen. Hopefully we can upset the bookies and the form book this evening, but as long as Steve isn’t promising oral sex to non-league fans during the course of the next 90 minutes, it’ll be an improvement. SV