Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Sutton United blog: One Richard Jolly, two Naked Ladies and three points against Carshalton Athletic

Cavorting with Naked Ladies can be a wonderful experience and many of us enjoyed a feeling of relief yesterday afternoon when supping that tasty ale and raising our glasses to Sutton United's 2-0 victory over Carshalton Athletic.

Ok, that might be a bit OTT, but you get the general idea...

Of course, as Sutton's players, management and fans celebrated three more precious points the Robins took consolation that their hard work in getting the game on in the first place was rewarded with a four-figure crowd and decent takings at the bar.

Tis certainly the season to be Richard Jolly. The Sutton striker may not have scored against his old club yesterday, but his constant running, chasing and harrying - which have been a feature of his game all season - went a long way to helping the Us to this success.

Jolly knew he would get plenty of stick from the Robins' fans on his return to Colston Avenue and so it proved.  But, he had the last laugh as headers from Andy Forbes and Bradley Woods-Garness saw the Us open up a six point gap at the top of the Ryman Premier League.

Carshalton were left to rue missing some great chances. Kevin Scriven found himself in a one-on-one with, no...not a naked lady, but a fully clothed Paul Johnson in the opening few minutes. Thankfully the Sutton keeper made a fine stop to atone for his own unusual mistake in kicking the ball straight to the Carshalton man.

The pitch was bobbly which made stringing more than two passes together very difficult and as a result this was hardly a classic derby. Despite giving the Robins a few more chances at goal the Us kept a cleen sheet thanks to a mixture of some dogged defending and wayward shooting from the hosts.

The Us may have earned a penalty late in the game when Craig Dundas appeared to have his heels clipped by Carshalton keeper Craig Ross. However, the Sutton man's melodramatic dive was so impressive that the referee made a note of his name just in case he becomes a famous stuntman.

If you haven't seen it yet then check out this view of the afternoon from theballisround.

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Any rate, with most other matches called off due to the weather, yesterday's big derby proved irresistable to managers of other sides. According to Twitter Graham Westley (Stevenage), Alan Dowson (Kingstonian) and Steve King (Farnborough) were there. I spotted Dave Garland (Croydon Athletic) as well as my old West Sutton Little League boss whose stare at me reminded me of the time I missed a penalty against Viron Aces in 1983.

Our attentions now turn to those Terrors from Tooting and Mitcham who come to Sutton on Saturday.

No, I am not talking about a bunch of marauding chavs intent on ripping the High Street to pieces (although it would probably be an improvement the eyesore Sutton Council has left us with), but those black and white-clad boys from Imperial Fields who visit Gander Green Lane on January 1st.

Mark Beard's side have been struggling this term but had an excellent result today against Kingstonian drawing 1-1. We, however, need to kick on from our good work this season and start 2011 as we ended 2010, with three points.

Well done to Paul Doswell and the boys. Keep it going...

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Sutton United blog: David Seaman's ponytail, Kenny Sansom, Carshalton Athletic and X Factor winner Matt Cardle

Well, thank crikey that's over.

Christmas was good, thanks for asking. There was plenty of booze, sleep, booze, presents, booze, sleep, booze, chocolate, booze and booze.

I was definitely in Santa's good books this year. Not only have I been rewarded with some Old Spice, a new dressing gown, some argyle socks, a jar of Werther's Original and some Just For Men, but my team also pipped X Factor's Matt Cardle to the number one spot in the Ryman Premier League Christmas charts. Many thanks to Dos and the boys for their efforts this season, may 2011 be even better.


Second best: Matt Cardle was beaten to the number one spot for 2010 by Sutton United.

I am writing this on Boxing Day evening and, to be honest, I don't hold out much hope that our derby day ding-ding with Carshalton Athletic will go ahead. That means no Twickenham Naked Ladies, no Carshalton pub crawl and no three points. Balls.

I hope I'm wrong and the match is on. Oh well, I suspect my old pal Ten will tap me up for some other alcohol related fun and games, so come what may we'll have a good day tomorrow.

Any rate, on to the crux of today's post...

How We Used To Live #2

Remember the other week when I mentioned I found some old Sutton United stuff while having a bit of a tidy up? No? Well nevermind. Any rate, one of the programmes I found was one from a home match against Carshalton Athletic in the Ryman Premier League (RPL) from 27th December 1997.

Of course, back then we secretly harboured dreams that the mighty Us would be setting the Football League alight by now. But hey ho, we now find ourselves back in the cuddly embrace of the dear old RPL after flirtations with the Conference and Conference South and will once again be doing battle with the Robins. Bugger.

I just hope that in December 2023 I won't be writing about our up-coming clash with Carshalton in the Ryman Premier League. If I am, then I will pack it all in and move to Muckle Flugga lighthouse to live a simple, solitary existence.

So what did you get for your £1.20 back in 1997?

The front cover wouldn't win any design awards, that's for sure. As it was our centenary season you'd have thought there would be a treasure trove of pictures to choose from. But no, all we had on the front cover were words, words, words. Thank crikey we've got Paul Loughlin snapping away these days.

On the plus side, on page nine, there was a cracking advert for Icis Sportswear featuring former England internationals Neil Webb and Kenny Sansom who were wearing Aldershot and Croydon kits respectively.

The team line-ups on the back page make for interesting reading. Sutton's frontline  featured those lethal predators Joff Vansittart and Nassim Arkrour, while the Robins had folk singer Richard Thompson and that curious troll-like creature and former Sutton man Neil Robson pencilled in to play for them.

In goal for Sutton that day was Carshalton legend Les Cleevely whose ponytail in the early-to-mid-1990s provided the inspiration for fellow goalkeeper David Seaman's much maligned hairstyle when he hit his mid-life crisis.

Aside from Vansittart and Arkrour the Sutton squad boasted another lethal marksman in Dominic Feltham who had netted 148 goals in 311 matches for the Us at that time.

What's his name? If only he'd had shorter hair we'd know the answer to that. I think it's David Seaman. Les Cleevely would be proud.

The RPL was so competitve back then that it took a team from two towns to top the table at Christmas in 1997. The Us were in second place having just won 2-0 at league leaders Dagenham and Redbridge. Kingstonian were five points behind us at that time having played a game more.

Other opponents who we crossed swords with back then included Enfield, Aylesbury United and Purfleet. Remember them? Enfield of course were old adversaries of ours for many years and we also enjoyed some exciting tussles with Aylesbury, most memorably in 1988 and 1999. Non-league football is the poorer for the demise of both of these clubs.

As for Purfleet. Well, call them Purfleet, call them Thurrock, call them what you will, it just sounds like a venue for darts rather than football. Dullsville I'd call it. That said, I'd be more than happy to play Dullsville next season if they don't go down.

A quick look around other divisions saw Halifax Town top of the Conference, Hampton led Ryman Division One ahead of Grays Athletic and Aldershot Town, while Canvey Island topped Ryman Division Two with Met Police, Braintree Town and Wealdstone hot on their heels.

Sutton triumphed over Carshalton 3-1 that day and went on to finish third in the league on 78 points behind champions Kingstonian (87) and Boreham Wood (80). Carshalton (48) finished 17th.

Yeading, Hitchin Town and Oxford City were the relegated sides.

Now to the present day and it's time to get our shovels out of the shed. I'm sure we all want the game to be on tomorrow, a re-arranged Christmas fixture just doesn't have the same feel to it. If it is on then I'd settle for a repeat of our 3-1 success from 13 years ago.

Come on you Yellows!

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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Sutton United blog: Michael Palin, Engelbert Humperdinck, The Hamsters and Cyril Regis

What does a football fan do when almost the entire schedule is wiped out on the Saturday before Christmas due to heavy snow? 

Well, if you’re anything like me then you’d have paced around for a bit with your hands in your pockets while periodically staring out the window and mulling over your options for the day.

      1)      Stay in
2)      Go Christmas shopping
3)      Head to the pub
Hmm, I can’t say I really ever entertained option two, I will leave that until about 4.45pm on Christmas Eve, so I stayed in for a bit then headed out to the pub.
I had my usual hopes that we might see the orange ball and players in gloves, tights, snoods and balaclavas dashed when our game with Hornchurch was postponed mid-morning. Bugger.

Even my hopes of seeing The Hamsters performing in gloves, tights, snoods and balaclavas at the Boom Boom Club on Sunday were dashed when that gig was cancelled too. Balls.
Any rate, while enjoying a cosy Saturday at home in my jim-jams, I swapped my usual pre-match pint for a mug of hot chocolate and, at 2.55pm, just as I should have been clapping the arrival of our amber and brown-clad heroes into the gladiatorial arena  known as the Borough Sports Ground,  I found myself tuning in to watch Sahara with Michael Palin on Freeview.
Jeez. Ok, too much information. Let’s ice skate over that...


National treasure: There's a time and a place for Michael Palin but it's not 3pm on a Saturday afternoon.

With the weather wreaking havoc on the football schedule there's a chance that our next game could be against our dear old pals from down the road, Carshalton Athletic. I have to admit I am licking my lips at the thought of taking on the Robins and not just for footballing reasons.
A thread on our forum entitled Beer Menu caught my attention and when it mentioned Twickenham Naked Ladies I thought for a minute that fans might be treated to a post-match demonstration of pole dancing on December 27.  However, I remembered, somewhat hazily it has to be said, giving Twickenham Naked Ladies a go at the Battersea Real Ale Festival earlier in the year.

The break for bad weather gives me a chance to cast my eye across the world of football and this alone begs one question. Were any of you aware that the FIFA World Club Cup has been taking place over the last couple of weeks?
No? What’s the matter with you?
So you won’t know then that Congolese side TP Mazembe Englebert made the final and lost to Inter Milan 3-0. Other sides to compete included PRK Hekari United from Papua New Guinea, Al-Wahda Sports Club of the United Arab Emirates and South Korean outfit Seongnam Chunma. Yep, the cream of world club football came to the party and you didn’t have a clue about it. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Gallant loser: Engelbert made it to the final of the FIFA World Club Cup in Abu Dhabi.

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Oh, before I go, I popped into Waterstones in Sutton earlier on today and noticed the biography of Cyril Regis on display. I couldn't help myself, I just had to take a look to see what, if anything, he had to say about Sutton United, after all, he was part of the Coventry line-up which lost to the Us back in 1989.

I'm sure the rest of the book is an excellent read, but if your interested in the bit about Sutton then head straight to pages 175-177 for what he describes as possibily the worst day on his career.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Sutton United blog: Phil and Grant Mitchell, Nick Cotton, Jamie Slabber and super sleuth Mark McManus

Crikey, the endless run of Christmas parties is taking its toll. I feel like I've gone ten rounds with those bruising brothers from Albert Square, the Mitchells.

To make matters worse my beloved Sutton United really did take a good kickin' last night from a group of EastleighEnders. We should have seen it coming, after all, they are managed by non-league's very own Phil and Grant - Ian Baird and his assistant Matt Gray.

Blimey, if that isn't enough, there's a new bad boy in the Square too. If you see Jamie Slabber heading in your direction any time soon then run for your life. His challenge on Tom Davis yesterday should prove a warning to all those who dare approach him, even Nick Cotton. As for that other swine from last night, the referee, we'll have more of him later.

You wouldn't argue with these two would you? We certainly didn't. Sutton surrendered to the demands of Matt Gray (left) and Ian Baird (right).



It all looked so good at 3.05pm on Saturday when Craig Dundas pounced on a loose ball to fire the Us ahead at the Silverlake Stadium. We seemed to cope well with the most of what Eastleigh threw at us, until Taggart popped to put our celebrations on hold.

I must hold my hands up here because I feel I am partly to blame for our FA Trophy exit. On Saturday, in the 87th minute, I allowed myself to think that we might actually win and sent a Tweet saying as much. A minute later Eastleigh equalised. Bugger.

Silverlake saviour: No, it's not Sir Alex Ferguson. Crime sleuth Mark McManus - AKA Taggart - popped up to save Eastleigh's blushes on Saturday.

Yesterday, ten minutes before half-time I found myself pleased with our display and impressed by the noise generated by the Sutton fans and, once again, I sent a Tweet saying as much. A minute later Eastleigh took the lead. Balls.

Sorry about that folks.

Before the 90 minutes were up the Spitfires added a further three goals to end our Trophy run for another season. I am not really one for referee bashing but I think it is fair to say that last night's man on the middle didn't help our cause. That said, you can't hide behind a 4-0 defeat.

I was looking forward to seeing how the Us would fare against a Blue Square South side and we got a conclusive answer. If we are to take anything from the two Eastleigh matches then a couple of things spring to mind.

Firstly, we've got to take our chances. We had some pretty decent opportunities on Saturday to score that all-important second goal but we failed to convert them.

Secondly, Paul Doswell is going to have to recruit some big chaps if we get promoted. I know both clubs were missing players for various reasons and had to shuffle their sides around accordingly, but we were found wanting in the strength department. We've undoubtedly got some talented and skillful players but strength is a crucial element to any squad and that's what impressed me most about the Spitfires. It certainly gives the Boss plenty to think about.

I remember watching the Wimbledon v Stevenage FA Cup game recently and thinking to myself how much bigger and stronger the Stevenage boys seemed in comparison to the Dons.

The League Two side negotiated a tricky away tie of their own that day 2-0 in much the same way Eastleigh dealt with us, although the refereeing at Kingsmeadow was far superior to what we witnessed last night.

Any rate, just as Sutton are left to lick their wounds and concentrate on their quest for the league title I must focus on writing those flippin' Christmas cards and plotting a raid on Sutton High Street over the next few days.

Just like a Jamie Slabber challenge, I am dreading it...

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Thursday, 9 December 2010

Sutton United blog: Paul Doswell takes Sutton to Eastleigh, Patrick Viera, Chris Hughton and Alan Pardew

Ok, that'll do. Despite missing the last five minutes of our victory over Wealdstone, I have soaked up the glory from that amazing success for long enough now. It's time to dust down my old amber and brown scarf once again, Paul Doswell needs me, and you, as we prepare to do battle with the Spitfires.

Crikey, am I looking forward to this one. Saturday's game against Eastleigh has fans of both sides drooling with anticipation, and it's not hard to see why.

Doswell is a legend at the Silverlake Stadium. As most of us know by now, he led the club from the Wessex League to the Conference South before leaving them in 2008 and then taking over at a beleaguered Sutton.
Without Doswell, Eastleigh might well have been playing Alton Town, Bournemouth Poppies or Hamble this Saturday in the Wessex League. If he replicates that kind of success with us then we're in for some exciting times at Gander Green Lane. To the Blue Square Premier and beyond please Boss. Oh well, we can dream, there's no harm in that.

Let's not forget how bad things were for us before the Doswell revolution. Two words, Ernie Howe.

Oooh, while I think about it, two more words, Steffan Ball.

They were bad times indeed.

That was until Bruce Elliot appointed Doswell. He had energy, passion and drive, which were qualities you wouldn't associate with Howe's time at our club. Players come and go as Dos continues to operate his revolving door policy but in each of his two full seasons in charge he's taken us to the Ryman Premier League play-offs and FA Cup First Round. This term he's guided us to top spot but there's no messing around, it's promotion or bust for Doswell.

Wessex League WAG: Without Paul Doswell's help Eastleigh might have been playing Hamble this Saturday. Nice to see the old girl is well wrapped up.

Of course, the Doswell factor may loom large over our clash with Eastleigh but there are many sub-plots too. Sutton's goalkeeping coach Wayne Shaw and in-form striker Andy Forbes are both ex-Spitfires, as are Karim El-Salahi and Karl Murray. Anyone else? Come on, hands up...

Thank you, Steve Watts.

Forbes was always one of those guys whose name I'd see in the Non-League Paper banging in the goals for Winchester City and Eastleigh. I never thought I'd see him doing the business for us but I am mightily glad he's on board.

I read somewhere on the Eastleigh forum that one of their fans thought Forbes was past his sell-buy date. Well, with comments like that, what more of an incentive does our hot-shot need to put one over his old team.

It won't be easy of course. The Spitfires may have had a rather inconsistent run in the Blue Square South this season but in Jamie Slabber, Tony Taggart, Tom Jordan and Anthony Riviere they have the ability to string some decent results together. I just hope they don't start on Saturday.

Riviere, according to the Eastleigh website, is likened to Claude Makelele and Patrick Viera. He's so much like them that he's playing in the sixth tier of English football.


Spot the difference: Is this Patrick Viera or Anthony Riviere? I knew I'd have you stumped for an answer.

Personally, I hope Eastleigh have got their minds focussed on other matters, like Monday night's mouth-watering Hampshire Senior Cup clash with Havant & Waterlooville.

Incidentally, fans of Wayne Shaw can marvel at his handywork by clicking here.

Finally, in other footballing matters, what is going on at Newcastle? Chris Hughton had brought some respectablitiy back to the club after years of mismanagement on and off the field. It seemed a realisation had finally arrived at St Jame's Park that the club wasn't as high up in football's natural pecking order as what it's supporters thought. But no, winning the Championship and 11th place in the Premier League isn't good enough, so, who is the man to take Newcastle on?

Two words: Alan Pardew.

Flippin' heck.Yep, it seems Paul Doswell's old pal and former Southampton boss Pardew is hotly tipped to take over the good work that Hughton has left behind   It's hardly the inspirational appointment you'd  hope for if you were a Newcastle fan so I suspect they are going to get what they deserve. The soap opera continues.

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Saturday, 4 December 2010

Sutton United blog: Arbroath 36 Bon Accord 0, Qatar win World Cup bid and Sutton v Yeovil Town

As Sutton supporters know only too well, football is a funny old game.
It can be flippin' frustrating one minute, like if you’re losing at home 3-2 going into injury time, but then it can be equally as wonderful the next, when the final whistle goes and you’ve won 4-3.
Of course, if you happen to support Wealdstone then the reverse of that applies.


The football history books are jam-packed full of amazing tales, like for example,  Dundee Harp’s 35-0 victory over Aberdeen Rovers on September 12, 1885, the very same day that, just 18 miles down the road, Arbroath stuck 36 past Bon Accord. Now, in true Harry Hill style, what are the chances of that, aye?
However, one of the game’s strangest episodes occurred on Thursday when, in their ‘wisdom’, FIFA saw fit to award the 2022 World Cup to a country which sounds like a musical instrument.
I thought there might be a chance that I’d see the World Cup staged in this country before my time is out, but Qatar? Never in the deepest, darkest depths of my imagination did I think the World Cup might one day be staged there. Qatar? Seriously. Sepp Blatter and his pals must be having a Jenny the Giraffe as they assess the latest deposit into their bank accounts.

Qatar hero: Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Thani, Chairman of his country's successful 2022 World Cup bid.
I’m all for spreading the football gospel and have no Francis Quarms with Russia getting the nod to host it in 2018, but Qatar? I, like many a bemused football observer around the globe, smell a rat...
Any rate, back to the real world.
With football grounds across the land hidden under a blanket of snow there’s been little news since our amazing victory over Wealdstone. Any hope that we might catch a glimpse of that most magical of sights – an orange football – were dashed on Tuesday when the snow just kept on falling.
So I am going to digress from current matters for a trip down memory lane for a feature which I may slip in from time to time when news, unlike the snow, is a bit thin on the ground. Drum roll please...
Those of you of a certain age may remember the above heading from schools’ programmes on ITV from when you were a kid in the 1970s and 80s. I thought it would fit in nicely with what I’m about to Dundee Harp on about as I take a look back at how things used to be at Sutton United.
The break for snow has given me some time to have a tidy up around my little abode and the other day I found a programme from Sutton's home game in the Nationwide Conference with Yeovil Town from November 1999. 
Ah, how times have changed for both Sutton and the Glovers. Yeovil are now struggling in their division while we’re top of the tree in ours.
Any rate, top of the Conference at that point in the 1999/2000 season were our dear old friends Kingstonian who were level on points with Nuneaton Borough. However, there was only one way the Ks were heading and, to put it nicely, it certainly wasn't up.
The names in the Sutton squad back then bring the memories flooding back – Gareth Howells, Gwynne Berry, Nko Ekoku, Sammy Winston, Dave Harlow and Ramon Giwa.

Ramon Giwa?

Perhaps someone out there can tell me who the hell Ramon Giwa was/is. Well, nobody seemed that interested in sponsoring his kit, whoever he was/is.  Even Teletubbies Dipsy and Laa Laa managed to dig deep to sponsor Andy Riley’s kit that season.
Come on you Yellows! Generous Laa Laa sponsored Andy Riley's kit back in 1999/2000 with the help of fellow Teletubby Dipsy.
The programme includes pictures from our recent 1-0 victory over Doncaster Rovers at Gander Green Lane. Crikey, now we're five divisions adrift of them. Well, lets look on the bright side, it could be four by the time May comes around.
On to the away travel page which was entitled Going Nationwide to cunningly tie in with the sponsors of the Conference. If you're sat there scratching your head wondering where the hell you were on this day 11 years ago then perhaps you may have been one of that hardy bunch who went to Morecambe to see the Us lose 6-2 on December 4th 1999. Apparently entry to Christie Park would have set you back £6.50.
For the record, Yeovil beat us 1-0, gaining revenge for our victory at Huish Park earlier in the season. At the end of the 1999/2000 season we ended up bottom, 13 points from safety. Altrincham and Welling joined us in dropping down a division while Kidderminster Harriers won the title nine points ahead of Rushden and Diamonds. Kingstonian finished fifth and knocked us out of the FA Trophy at the semi-final stage, the aggregate score of which has escaped me for now. 
How times have changed. Forget Yeovil, Doncaster and Morecambe, it's Cray, Aveley and Concord these days, well, for this season at least. Right, it's pub time...

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Sunday, 28 November 2010

Sutton United blog: George Best, Bayern Munich and the great escape against Wealdstone

What is all this hullabaloo about, did I miss something?
Well, actually yes I did.
George Best famously left the 1999 Champions League Final early with Manchester United losing 1-0 to Bayern Munich only for United to score twice in the dying embers of the match to conquer Europe. That must have been gutting. I would have hated to have missed that.
So, imagine my dismay when, having left Gander Green Lane at 4.50pm yesterday afternoon with Sutton losing 3-2 and looking uninspired, I got home and glanced at Twitter only to discover we’d won 4-3.
My jaw dropped.
My dejection at what I thought was a defeat soon turned to delight at an amazing victory and in years to come I will be able to say to people ‘I wasn’t there’, even though for 85 minutes of it I was.
In the car on the way home I was mulling over what to write about for the blog and was fully prepared to harp on about how poor we looked compared to our much hungrier opponents.
I thought Wealdstone looked a very good side. They were lively, showed good width and movement and a greater desire to have a go at goal, the latter to such an extent that they even scored one for us.
That was the key. The own goal scored by James Hammond gave us hope. Wealdstone should have put Sutton out of sight by the time I left but they paid the price for not killing us off, just as I paid a hefty toll for perhaps giving up on my team.  Sorry about that folks, serves me right.
But yesterday I just wasn’t feeling it. I couldn’t see where a Sutton revival was coming from and my dejection got the better of me as I decided to swap the cold and bleak surroundings of Gander Green Lane for the warmth and welcoming confines of my living room.
Despite missing the main action I am mightily glad the Us did turn it around. I thought we looked very fragile and sloppy in defence in the first half. The Stones took full advantage of that to surge into a commanding 2-0 lead with two goals from Alex Dyer within the first half-hour.
However, following Wealdstone’s obvious frustration at quite possibly the latest offside flag I have seen since the controversial winner-takes-all title showdown between National Nippers and Tremain Terriers in the Premier Division of West Sutton Little League back in 1983, Andy Forbes gave Sutton some hope with a header right on half-time.
My newly found optimism was buoyed further by a half-time pint before being tested early in the second half when that most tricky of customers Danny Spendlove hit a belter from 20 yards make it 3-1 as the Stones threatened to crush the Us.
Fearing he might not see us again until after Christmas, James Hammond was in a generous mood and handed us an early present which came in the form of a Get Out Of Jail Free card in the 62nd minute. Lovely stuff. Unexpectedly, Sutton were back in it once again.

Received with thanks: What a nice chap that James Hammond is. 

However, I just couldn’t see where Sutton’s inspiration was going to come from. So, with the cold biting into my hands and feet, I called it a day with a few minutes remaining. Tut, tut.
As a result of my poor decision I never saw those two late goals from Simon Downer and Sam Page. However, thanks to Hughes Video and the modern wonder that is YouTube I can watch what I missed yesterday from the comfort of my armchair, over and over again. Click here for the action.
As for the nonsense which greeted the final whistle, well call me Arsene Wenger, but I never saw it so I will leave the judgement on that to those who did.
It could have been worse for the Wealdstone supporters, at least they saw their team play. The Yeovil fans who made the long trip up to Hartlepool yesterday didn’t.
After Manchester United grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat in Barcelona in 1999 Sir Alex Ferguson famously remarked ‘Football, bloody hell’, and that kind of sums up yesterday for me, despite the fact I ‘did a George Best’. Please form an orderly queue to slap my wrists...
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Friday, 26 November 2010

Sutton United blog: The Krankies, Matt Tubbs hits an FA Cup cracker and Fantasy Football League's Statto

Don't be confused by the title of this post. I don't mean that Crawley Town hot-shot Matt Tubbs actually hit Statto, what I mean is...oh well, nevermind. I'll crack on.

I can't help but cast an envious eye over the weekend's FA Cup fixtures. Before I get into my stride I'd like to point out I am not a bitter Sutton supporter, far from it in fact. I don't even harbour a grudge against Carshalton particularly. Seriously, where's the point in that?

We've had our fair share of Cup success over the years and I am grateful for that. However, with the likes of Crawley, Wimbledon, and Droylsden all sharing the media spotlight this weekend it does make you think how different things might have been for the Us. Also competing in  the Cup this weekend are the likes of Dover, Tamworth, FC United, Swindon Supermarine and Chelmsford. Of course, I wish all these clubs luck in their matches but I can't help but cast a longing gaze out of my frosty window and dream of Cup glory once again.  

I am watching Crawley take on Swindon Town as I write this. I can't help but think that it would be, to borrow a phrase from The Krankies, fan-dabi-dozi if it was Sutton hosting the big game. Ah, The Krankies. They were great on Crackerjack - CRACKERJACK! - weren't they. A little look at Wikipedia tells me that the popular 1970s double act are now both 63 years old. Crikey, I really hope they've given up that gig now.


Fan-dabi-dozi! The Krankies give the thumbs-up to Sutton's bid for Cup glory next season.

Any rate, just imagine if that was us playing in front of the ESPN cameras tonight. Right now I could be hopping from foot to foot on the freezing cold Gander Green Lane terraces desperate for a wee having had two or three pints of tepid ale at the Plough before the match. Ray Stubbs, Lou Macari and John Barnes could be chatting on the pitch at half-time assessing the rapid deterioration of the surface and the drop in temperature, while in the background Jenny the Giraffe waves to the viewers at home. Instead, it's Crawley's Reggie the Red Devil who is enjoying the limelight. Bugger.

So, back to reality. Sticking with the cup theme, I have been lambasted by some folk for saying that the only competitions that interest me are the Ryman Premier League, the FA Cup and the FA Trophy. Well, sorry about that, but each to their own.

The Surrey Senior Cup started to lose it's appeal for me once we'd beaten Whyteleafe to retain it for the sixth season running back in 1987 at Tooting's old Sandy Lane ground. The fact that Ashford Town (Middlesex) won it two years ago suggests to me that even clubs in Surrey aren't that bothered about it anyway.

As for competitions such as the Championship Manager Trophy, well, I think they are just a waste of time. Who can remember who won the Carthium Cup in 2005? Statto from Fantasy Football League, that's who, and perhaps the usual array of non-league anoraks. And who can remember that wonderful motto a few years back which accompanied the Bryco Cup?  'Don't miss it!'...flippin' heck, what a joke. Miss it is precisely what I set out to do.

Anorak Idol: Statto could tell you who won the Hitachi Cup in 1983. What's that Statto, it was Sutton? Never.

Sutton's main focus for now is the Ryman Premier League. The weather may have a big say in the non-league football schedule this weekend but hopefully we'll get a game on at Gander Green Lane tomorrow.

Fair play to Crawley, they've got the Cup weekend off to a cracker. The equalising goal by Matt Tubbs in Red Devils' 1-1 draw with Swindon was superb. Perhaps Reggie deserves his moment on live TV after all.

Email me: amberramblerblog@gmail.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/itsamberrambler

Sutton United blog: Doswell's Eastleigh return, five-star Dan Trenkel, Croydon Athletic and the Christmas lights

Crikey, it's nippy out there. It makes me wish they sold replica Jenny the Giraffe costumes in the Sutton United club shop, I could do with one at times like this.

And what great times they are.You've got to hand it to Sutton Council. They may have screwed up by spending thousands upon thousands of pounds of tax payers' money on an astonishingly soulless revamp of the High Street, but credit where credit's due, no expense was spared when they hired none other than Father Christmas himself to turn on this year's Christmas lights. So, next time you're walking down the High Street wondering what the hell those wooden animals are all about don't forget to look up and admire the big man's handywork. He's very busy at this time of year don't you know.

In demand: Father Christmas looked a little ropey after having a few beers in O'Neills to settle his nerves ahead of the big switch-on.

Keep it to yourself, but I was dragged against my will to the cinema on Wednesday night where I spent two and a half hours watching young wizards waving their wands. Ok, I know...too much information.

Any rate, while I was watching Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger in action, 89 hardy muggles were under the spell of Croydon Athletic versus Aveley in the Ryman Premier League.

Croydon's troubles have been well documented but Wednesday night's game gave the Rams the chance to earn a much-needed point or three. Dave Garland is just the type of guy you want when you're up against it, whether you're doing battle with Voldemort or relegation. It's just a shame for Rams that so few decided to cheer them on and then, at the final whistle, the Essex boys sped off in their zooped up Ford Fiestas with the booty.


Voldemort: Croydon Athletic boss Dave Garland has a tough job fighting the forces of evil.

There are a few reason as to why the crowd was poor at the Keith Tuckey Stadium on Wednesday, let's take a look. Bear in mind, these are in no particular order:

1) It was cold.
2) It was cold.
3) Rangers v Manchester United was on tele.
3) It was cold.

The Rams visit Gander Green Lane next Tuesday night, weather permitting, so I'll return to their plight over the next few days. Now on to Sutton United matters...

It's been a good week for Paul Doswell's men. Last Saturday's 4-2 victory over Billericay Town came courtesy of a Andy Forbes hat-trick and the obligatory goal from Bradley Woods-Garness.

Now, Eastleigh v Eastleigh Old Boys is the kind of fixture you would expect to find in the Amateur Football Comination alongside Old Suttonians v Old Meadonians, but thanks to Saturday's endeavours Doswell, Forbes, Karl Murray, Wayne Shaw and Karim El-Salahi will pay a timely visit to their old club on December 11.

To score a hat-rick and walk off the field triumphant must have been a great feeling for Forbes who is fast becoming a firm favourite with the Sutton faithful. However, you have to feel sorry for Dan Trenkel of Great Wakering Rovers who scored ALL FIVE of his side's goals in their home game against Potters Bar Town last Saturday in a Ryman League North game but still ended up on the losing side as the visitors scored six in reply.

I think Mickey Joyce had the right idea. To avoid such a fate happening to him he scored another four for Sutton against Leatherhead in 1982, just to make sure he ended up on the winning side.

I thought Harrow Borough looked a decent side when they came to Gander Green Lane earlier in the season and I'm a bit surprised to see them struggling. The fact Sutton were left clinging on against nine men at the final whistle was a bit of a concern. It's easy to look at Tuesday's 0-0 draw at Earlsmead as two points dropped but this season the Ryman Premier League is shaping up to be a tight affair at both ends of the table.

Wealdstone visit the Lane this weekend, so long as the pitch isn't as hard as nails. The Stones are on a high after their 3-2 win at Carshalton on Tuesday. I seem to say this a lot, but if we're to push on in our quest for promotion then these are the kind of games we need to win. Wealdstone have been inconsistent at best so I'd like to think we have enough ammunition to earn the points and send them packing back to north London in their Ford Cortinas.

Email me: amberramblerblog@gmail.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/itsamberrambler

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Sutton United blog: AFC Wimbledon's late show on ESPN, Family Guy's Glenn Quagmire and Sutton v Billericay

Some of you might want to put your hands over your eyes before reading this. You have been warned...

I had a few beers with my pal Ten last night n O'Neills in Sutton. He's a lovely guy, a lovely, lovely guy. However, he knocks around with a chap called Nigel who supports a Premier League side which shall remain nameless.

The conversation was going well until we started on all matters football. I sat there patiently as Nigel spouted off about his side's ups and downs, their triumphs and their defeats. I offered my own insight and all was well and good for about half an hour or so.

That was until I mentioned that my team, Sutton United, had an important game in the FA Trophy coming up against Billericay Town. Crikey, talk about a conversation stopper. Thirty seconds later and we were back talking about the delights of the Premier League.

Seriously, what is it with some football fans who cannot see further than the top flight? Anything below that and football simply does not exist. It might have helped if I supported Crystal Palace or QPR perhaps, but I don't. Thankfully, I support Sutton.

For me, and this probably goes without saying, I am a lower league fan. Even the teams I have as my second, third or fourth teams all tend to hover in the lower eschelons of the football pyramid. I have no interest in following, as Nigel might say 'a proper club.'


The pyramid system: My teams tend to lurk in the lower reaches.


Any rate, it gets worse.

Nigel just happens to live in one of those flats which has been built on Plough Lane in Wimbledon, the very venue where the likes of Dave Bassett, Vinnie Jones, Clive Goodyear and John Fashanu enjoyed so much success.

I mentioned to him that, as far as I could remember, some, if not all of the flats built there were named after players associated with the Dons. To which he replied: 'Nah, I don't' think so,' Before mumbling a sentence about his place being called Batsford something or other.

I had to stop Nigel in his tracks and tell him how Alan Batsford has a deep association with Wimbledon Football club. He was the guy, after all, who led them into the Football League in 1977.

Nah, it didn't even register on his particular footballing radar. Come to think of it, I'm not sure any team outside the top 20 clubs in English football strike a chord with him.

I must move on to other matters or I'll wind myself up.

I went to bed on Thursday night completely knackered after watching Wimbledon overcome Ebbsfleet in another thrilling FA Cup tie on ESPN.

Conceding a last minute goal in any match is gutting, but to concede two has got to be sickening for Ebbsfleet who put up a brave fight and looked for all the world as if they would be the team to face Stevenage in the next round.

For large parts of the game the Dons looked subdued and disinterested as the Kent side looked to take full advantage of the situation.

Credit to the Dons and their matchwinner Luke Moore, though. Just when the referee was contemplating putting the whistle to his lips, up popped Moore to score the goal which would take the game to extra-time. Moore repeated the trick with his second exquisite finish in the 120th minute to send Ebbsfleet crashing out in heart-breaking fashion.

Thankfully we can now bring this whole Wimbledon v Milton Keynes episode to an end for the time being and look ahead to some more incident-packed matches in the Second Round. As for ESPN, they have got to be happy with their First Round offerings. Rochdale v FC United, Woking v Brighton and Ebbsfleet v Wimbledon all provided plenty of action and talking points.

The FA Cup isn't the only competition throwing up some interesting ties. This weekend the FA Trophy takes centre stage for clubs like ours and we've been handed one of the toughest home draws we could have got, Billericay Town.

Our visitors to Gander Green Lane later today currently sit third in the Ryman Premier League, five points behind Sutton and, interestingly enough, their only three league defeats have come at the hands of Lowestoft, Kingstonian and ourselves.

But get this, they have won their last six matches in all competititions, including a fine 1-0 success over London All Peoples' Sports Association in the Essex Senior Cup. That's a terrific result for eleven lads from Billericay when you consider all the people in London who play sport.

It's a shame Roald Dahl's the BWG won't be available for the big match today. But, with that said, it should provide someone else with the chance to hit the target. Richard Jolly is overdue a goal or two, so I'd like to see his name on the scoresheet come 4.45pm today.

Having just cast my eye across some of the threads on the forum I read that a fan, who shall remain nameless, can't muster up the enthusiasm for a Trophy match as he just wants league points. What's that? You want me to name name? Well, ok, it's the supporter formerly known as Optimistic Sutman, now he's just plain old OS.

His view is perfectly understandable as our priority is obviously the league. But, personally speaking, I welcome the break from league action and would love to see Sutton have a real good run in the Trophy in this or any other season. It's a chance for the club to earn extra revenue and to have a crack at some of the teams in the divisions above us. We've just got to get through the dreaded quagmire of the qualifying rounds first.


Tricky customer: I don't know what he's smiling about. Sutton United have one last hurdle to negotiate before they're out of the dreaded FA Trophy qualifying Quagmire.

My priorities for Sutton every season are in this order: League, FA Cup, Trophy. The other competitions don't even make it on my radar. Football is saturated with wishy-washy tournaments, but the FA Trophy isn't one of them. However, I wish Pickles the dog would run off with the Surrey Senior Cup sometime soon and go and bury it deep in someone's back garden.

Email me: amberramblerblog@gmail.com or catch me at Twitter


Alphabet Club Watch

Before I sign off today, I thought I would check out how some of our local fellow alphabet clubs are doing. We all know about the Us and the Ks, but what about the Es and the As?

There's a sizzler taking place at Moatside, Merstham today where the nomadic tribesmen of Epsom and Ewell take on Cove who are still reeling from their reserves' 3-2 defeat at Camberley on Tuesday night. The Es are midtable in the Combined Counties League having enjoyed mixed fortunes against the likes of Colliers Wood Unied, Hanworth Villa, Badshot Lea and Ash United.

Banstead Athletic, meanwhile, have a tricky away fixture at the Sarnies, AKA Egham Town. It seems the As have been busy trying to lose as many games as possible this season. They are third from bottom in the league and even managed to contrive to lose against Dorking, who are one place below them. Crikey, if they get any lower then they'll soon have their application for membership accepted by West Sutton Little League. You can't get any lower in the pyramid system than that, can you?

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Sutton United blog: Darius saves the day, AFC Wimbledon breathe easy and Basiru Susso's big night out

I knew I had done the right thing by signing up to Twitter. Amid the drama of Tuesday night's FA Cup replays I received a tweet from Camberley Town which told me I could rest assured safe in the knowledge their reserves had triumphed 3-2 over Cove in the Suburban League Northern Division. Marvellous.

Any rate, now I'm fully rested, on to Tuesday night's action...

When former Sutton United man Darius Charles scored in the fifth minute of injury time for Stevenage against Milton Keynes last night, football fans across the land breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The goal set up a tense period of extra time as the side's slugged it out in an FA Cup First Round replay which then went to penalties. Thankfully, Stevenage and football, prevailed when Mathias Doumbe blazed his spot-kick over, meaning Stevenage went through 7-6 on penalties.

Like many observers of the game, I was all set to write about my concerns of the potential meeting between Wimbledon and the Milton Keynes franchise should both sides make it through to the Second Round of the Cup. I'm pleased to say I can bin that script now, however, it can't have been an easy couple of weeks for fans of the Dons.


Darius: His late, late goal at Milton Keynes changed the course of history

Not only have they had to put up with three away trips on the bounce - Altrincham, Barrow and Ebbsfleet - but they've had to endure the media hype which began as soon as the draw for the Second Round paired their club with the very people who were happy to rip the old incarnation of it out of their grasp.

For many, once the gasps had died down after the draw had been made, old wounds soon reopened and the realisation of the potential consequences for Wimbledon supporters set in. It is still too soon after the events of 2002/03 for some fans to consider playing Milton Keynes, and who can blame them.

I doubt there will ever be a right time for the clubs to meet, but thanks to the timely intervention of Darius,Wimbledon fans have been spared a few more sleepless nights and can now concentrate on the important business of trying to beat Ebbsfleet tonight night infront of the ESPN cameras.

Charles wasn't the only former Sutton player making an impact in Tuesday night's Cup matches. Elvis Hammond was man of the match as Woking gave League One leaders Brighton and Hove Albion a good run for their money in a match which was also screened live on ESPN. Soloman Taiwo was on target for Dagenham and Redbridge in their 3-2 defeat at Leyton Orient. Meanwhile, Brentford went out to 1-0 at Aldershot, meaning Andy Scott's interest in this year's competition came to an end.

It's a quiet week at Gander Green Lane. Aside from Basiru Susso's Q&A evening on last night, the next big event is our FA Trophy encounter with Billericay Town on Saturday. Photo's of Bas's big night were quickly doing the rounds on Twitter.

One interesting result from the Ryman Premier League came last night at the Keith Tuckey Stadium where Croydon Athletic conquered our conquerors Margate 5-3. The conquest took place in front of 103 hardy folk who chose to give England v France the thumbs down, not that that was a difficult decision to make.

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Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sutton United blog: Victor Kasule, Natalie Lowe, the Non-League Paper and the Sutton Arms

I don't know about you, but I blame Darren Ebsworth. There he is in today's Non-League Paper going on about how we've lost one in fifteen League games and how the competition for places can only be a good thing. By the time his interview was printed we had lost our second league game. Drat.

I jest of course. To be honest, it's nice to see a Sutton United player featured in the NLP. Aside from a match report it's seldom we're featured, so well done to Darren, he deserves his time in Star Corner after hitting a cracker against the not so special Ks.

Ok, ok, so we lost at Margate. Let's have a think about this, it could have been worse. We might have lost at Barrow, so spare a thought for those Wimbledon fans who had to endure that trek yesterday...and all for a 2-0 defeat. Now that's nasty.

It reminds me of the time when Sutton played away at Darlington in the Conference on a cold Tuesday night and lost 2-0 in the late 1980s. Now that really was nasty. From what I can recall a chap by the name of Victor Kasule led us a merry dance that night before seemingly disappearing off the footballing map.

It's been a testing week for Wimbledon fans. First Altrincham away on Tuesday, quickly followed by Barrow. Crikey, Sutton have had two trips to Kent in a week, that's not so bad after all. At least we had time after the match yesterday to get back to the boozers of our home town to drown our sorrows or, if it floats your boat, to catch the last half hour of Strictly Come Dancing. Encouraged by his twinkle-toed turn against us all those years ago I gather Victor Kasule did a great rumba with Natalie Lowe on last night's show.


Ready to rumba: You won't catch Natalie Lowe drinking at the Sutton Arms.

Any rate, to our defeat. Kennedy Adjei and the ever-reliable Bradley Woods-Garness netted our goals, but we couldn't keep up our recent good defensive record and let in three in reply. I blame myself for that, I shouldn't have mentioned how well our defence had been holding out in my last post.

To make matters worse, we lost to two great strikes from a guy called Wayne. In this case, Wayne Wilson. That's awful for us, of course, but chavtastic for Margate.

Yesterday represented a chance for us to kick-on and create a gap ahead of the chasing pack. Bugger. No doubt Blob and Bob will be happy as Kingstonian clawed some points back with a 3-1 win over Canvey Island (anyone else fail to get that headline in the NLP?). Lowestoft could only draw 0-0 at home to Wealdstone but I must confess I'm getting a bit worried by Billericay as they're looking a little bit, how should I say...good. We can take heart from the fact we've beaten them already this season, but there's no doubt about it, we are going to face a tough test in next saturdays FA Trophy game.

Those who follow me on Twitter will know that I was skulking in the pubs of Sutton yesterday evening in a bid to drink away those post-match blues. I had a few in the Old Bank near the station to whet my whistle, before making a blunderous decision for my next port of call. I landed up in the Sutton Arms and as I walked through the doors I immediately felt like I was gatecrashing a very bad youth club disco. Young lads with pronounced swaggers vied for the affections of easy girls with large hooped earrings. Wayne Wilson would have loved it, but I didn't hang around.

It was a far cry from my experience of Friday night when I had a rip-roaring night with pals at the Sun Inn in Carshalton. Now that's what I call a decent boozer, real ale buffs will love it. If only Gander Green Lane had a pub like that.

Email me: amberramblerblog@gmail.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/itsamberrambler

Friday, 12 November 2010

Sutton United blog: FC United of Manchester, Tamworth Lambs, Dover Athletic and Sutton head to Margate

It's never a nice feeling when your team gets dumped out of the FA Cup by lowly opposition.

As Sutton United supporters we have experienced the obvious high of Coventry in 1989 and, of course, we're still getting over the low of Alton Town 2010. So, I'd like to think we're in a good place to share the joy or despair with pals whenever their teams should have similar experiences.

So, it was with sensitivity that I broached the subject of the weekend's FA Cup action with my mate Grundle who just happens to support Gillingham. Oh dear.

Being a fan of a non-league team I naturally wanted to marvel, somewhat enviously, at the exploits of FC United of Manchester, Tamworth and Dover Athletic. But, I had to be careful, the pain was all too real and it was etched across his face. It must have been tough for him. Crikey, losing 2-0 to a team who play their home games at a ground called the Crabble must have been a bitter blow, so I didn't dwell on the subject.

Thankfully, he has no idea this blog exists, so rather belatedly and without further ado...LET'S GIVE A BIG HAND TO FC UNITED, TAMWORTH AND GILLINGHAM'S CONQUERORS, DOVER ATHLETIC. Woohoo!

There's no doubt about it, FC United are well and truly on the English footballing map after their excitng success at Rochdale.

Flippin heck, to beat a team who play four divisions above you takes some doing, so when Michael Norton scored a last minute winner it was the cue for frenzied scenes of celebration from United's legion of fans at Spotland. His goals at Norton & Stockton in the Third Qualifying Round must seem like Ancient history after that.

Now that is what football is all about. Forget your Manchester City v Manchester United top-flight yawnfest, I'll take Rochdale v FC United of Manchester in the FA Cup every time.

I wonder if any Man United fans are tempted to make the switch from the Barclays Pemier League to the Evo-Stik Pemier League. I wouldn't be at all surprised, after all, it's nice to feel wanted and valued by a football club.

Unfortunately for the Railwaymen of Crewe Alexandra their FA Cup campaign was derailed by a team who play their matches at that most itimidating of world footballing venues, The Lamb Ground.

I can imagine the Tamworth players who ran out onto the pitch last Saturday tapped the 'This is The Lamb Ground' sign above the tunnel entrance to help give them inspiration for the big match with Crewe. It certainly paid off as they dumped the Railwaymen out of the competition 2-1.


Hard to bleat: Aaaah, what a cute little lamb. Try telling that to fans of Crewe Alexandra.

I have a bit of a bugbear with Tamworth. While I wish them well for the season, I can't help but think that if they can play Blue Square Premier football then why can't Sutton United? I guess they and their like are the benchmark for clubs like us.

I have similar feelings for the likes of Histon, Hayes & Yeading and Forest Green. I know they're there because they deserve to be, so good luck to them, but I'd like to think we'll be up there in the not too distant future. For the time being, I'll settle for a place back in the Blue Square South.

Anyway, a hearty well done to Tamworth.

And so to Crabble-dwelling Dover Athletic and their victory over Grundle's beloved Gillingham. The Crabble holds some bad memories for us Sutton fans after we were hammered there 6-0 as Dover marched relentlessly to the Ryman League title a couple of yeares ago.

However,Gillingham v Dover had more spice to it than a spice rack owned by Mr and Mrs Spice from Spicetown-upon-Spice in Spiceshire. Not only was it a clash of two Kent clubs, but League Two Gillingham have Andy Hessenthaler in charge, who just happend to leave Dover during the summer in rather acrimonious cricumstances. Crikey.

In the best way possible the Whites gave the Gills a good old-fashioned two-fingered salute by delivering a couple of knock-out blows in the first half to create yet another magical FA Cup moment.

I'll be touching on the FA Cup again in the next few days ahead of the Ebbsfleet v Wimbledon and Milton Keynes v Stevenage replays.

Alas, Sutton fans can only dream of what might have been in the Cup this year...besides, we've got plenty to shout about at the moment anyway. We're sitting proudly on top of the league, six points clear, although other clubs have matches in hand...but we won't worry about them, let's just focus on us.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, the Sutton fans will be getting beered up on trains bound for Margate, not to enjoy the delights of the Bembom Brothers' theme park though, but to cheer on the Yellows at Hartsdown Park, the home of Margate FC.

We've done flippin' well not to concede a goal in our last four outings and much of that credit has to go down to goalkeeper Kevin Scriven. But who is going to be the next name on Sutton United's goalscoring merry-go-round this weekend after Darren Ebsworth got in on the act against Kingstonian?

Obviously Mr Jolly Esquire, Roald Dahl's the BWG, Crocodile Craig Dundas and Handy Andy Forbes (any suggestions for an Andy Forbes nickname most welcome) are leading candidates, but should the wind and rain wreak havoc tomorrow then, go on Scriv, give it your best shot man.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Sutton United blog: Mr Blobby, Jenny the Giraffe and Darren Ebsworth hits a screamer

It was the match-up alphabet lovers across the land had been eagerly anticipating. Just five weeks after the teams last met, last night the Us took on the Ks in the RPL at GGL.

Let me get straight down to the nitty-gritty. I was already fired-up for this derby game as Sutton were on a mission to beat Kingstonian before the turn of the millenium. However, I could feel my blood reach boiling point as I walked past the Plough last night at around twenty past seven.

I had to do a double-take because for a second I could have sworn I had seen Mr Blobby enjoying a booze and a fag outside the pub. But no, my eyes had been playing tricks with me. It was a rather large lager-swilling, pie-eating Kingstonian fan bursting out of his replica shirt who was telling his pal - who looked remarkably like Bob Carolgees - how much he had enjoyed seeing the Ks 'thrash' Sutton 4-1 at Gander Green Lane in the play-offs last season. What a berk. Give us some credit man, it was 4-2.

As I strolled off grinding my teeth and cursing Blob and Bob under my breath, I had my fingers crossed that Paul Doswell and the boys were as pumped up for the game as I was. Thankfully, as we now know, I need not have worried.

On what was a nippy night at Gander Green Lane I found myself being warmed up by a real belter of an opening goal from Darren Ebsworth, which almost took one of Rob Tolfrey's hands off, and a close-range effort from Craig Dundas who was in the right place at the right time to settle our nerves just before half-time. We could have had more but if you'd have said we'd win 2-0 at the start of the game then I'd have bitten your hand off, then your arm and then your head.

Aside from standing next to Dos when he's hollering ear-burning instructions to the players, I think the chap who dresses up as our club mascot Jenny the Giraffe has the right idea when it comes to beating the cold. When his mum told him to wrap up for the night, he really went for it.

Anyhow, it was a shame I didn't pass Blob and Bob on the way out of the ground, because if I had, I may have been tempted to remind them of the score with a simple hand gesture, the reverse of the one made famous by Winston Churchill in World War Two.

Although our Gander Green Lane home is in dire need of a makeover I think Sutton fans should forget about raising funds for the proposed stadium redevelopment and club together to pay for regular flights to and from the Gambia for Basiru Susso, the President of Sutton United Gambia. He's over here right now on a fact-finding mission and his prescence seems to have brought out the best in the boys. Could Bas be our new mascot? Jenny the Giraffe should be afraid, very afraid.

Email me: amberrambler@gmail.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/itsamberrambler

Monday, 8 November 2010

Sutton United blog: The Go Compare advert, Worzel Gummidge and Kingstonian

I have come to the conclusion that I need to go away more often. While I've been on my travels Sutton United have banged in six goals without reply to cement their place at the top of the Ryman Premier League table.

Ok lads, I get the hint...I'll get on Expedia right away.

I have to admit, being away from it all had some great advantages. Not only was it great to catch some sun but it also meant I didn't have to put up with all the X Factor nonsense or listen to those annoying Go Compare adverts.

Anyway, with victories at Croydon Athletic and Maidstone United safely tucked under our belts it's noticeable that goals this season have come from such a wide variety of sources. In the last week Craig Dundas, Bradley Woods-Garness, Tom Davis, Tommy Kavanagh and Andy Forbes (2) have bagged our goals, and it's anyone's guess who will score next for the Us. Having mentioned goalscoring goalkeepers in my last post I reckon even Sutton's number one Kevin Scriven might be in with a shout of hitting the back of the net.

So, we're currently riding on the crest of a wave again and all in the world seems good...what better time to play Kingstonian. Bugger.

Yep, our new number one bogey side visit Gander Green Lane tomorrow night.  However, you won't find Worzel Gummidge's pessimistic head on these shoulders, oh no, it's all about the PMA with me.

The Ks may have the upper hand after recent contests between the two sides but their luck has to run out sooner or later (I'm sure I've said that before). I thought they deserved their play-off win over us last season, we took our foot off the gas in the second-half and they exploited it to the full. But, if we play anything like we did at Kingsmeadow last month then we will take the points...so long as we actually remember to score this time.

I would write more, but to be honest the old jet lag is kicking-in...and besides, I want to be feeling tip-top for the big game tomorrow. Fellas, it's over to you...come on you Yellows...

Friday, 5 November 2010

Sutton United blog: Roald Dahl, Maidstone United and goalscoring goalkeepers Pat Jennings and Iain Hesford

Sun, sea, sand and a super Sutton United success to celebrate, this holiday just gets better and better, although l'm feeling slightly groggy this morning having over done the celebrating side of things.
While I was watching AC Milan take on Real Madrid at the San Siro on the tele the other night, my mind was at the Keith Tuckey Stadium in Croydon, wondering how the boys in amber and brown were getting on.
I didn't find out about the result until last night and was pleased to see that goals from Craig Dundas, Roald Dahl's the BWG and Andy Forbes meant the points took us back to top spot. I thought Croydon Athletic might prove to be a banana skin so, like Sutton supporters across the globe, was more than happy with the end result.
With internet access at my hotel a bit limited I thought I'd just scribble a few quick lines ahead of this weekend's action.
Maidstone are next for Paul Doswell and his troops. I have got a lot of time for the Stones. Not only have the Us enjoyed some great tussles with them over the years but in 1991 a pal of mine moved there and started following them, so I used to keep an eye out for their results before the club's sad demise.
When I think of Maidstone United I immediately think of Mark Golley, the robust midfielder who Sutton sold to the Kent Club in, I think it was, 1988. Golley had made a name for himself by scoring a late equaliser in Sutton's FA Cup Third Round clash with Middlesbrough in January of that year, a goal which is often forgotten about after the Us went on to beat Coventry the following year.
Other names which spring to mind are Mickey Joyce, Steve Galloway and Iain Hesford. Joyce and Galloway both swapped Sutton's amber and brown for Maidstone's amber and black in the mid-1980s, but Hesford, who has no Sutton connection at all as far as I know, sticks in my mind for one very good reason.
One day, I thought I'd surprise my pal by turning up out of the blue at the Maidstone v Hereford Fourth Division clash at Watling Street in Dartford where the Stones played at that time. I seem to remember the home side won that day 3-2 but it was a memorable match because goalkeeper Hesford scored with a long punt downfield. Crikey, I'd always wanted to see a goalkeeper score like that ever since I watched footage of Pat Jennings scoring for Spurs with a long kick from his own penalty area, and there it was, happening right in front of my eyes.
But on to current matters. Once again Sutton prepare to do battle with the Stones, who are in the lower reaches of the table. It's a big game for Dos and the boys, a victory would keep the momentum going and set the Us up nicely for another crack at Kingstonian on Tuesday night. I'm debating whether to go to that one as I am sick of the sight of the Ks. But, if I am to put my positive head on, then we've got to beat them sooner or later. But first things first, we need to roll the Stones over.
Finally, as some of the country's footballing minnows dream of FA Cup glory this weekend I thought I had the perfect opportunity to gloat about Sutton's Cup glories of bygone years last night. I got chatting with the DJ in a bar I was in when he told me he was from Coventry, so I rubbed my hands together and prepared to give him the old spiel about our famous Cup triumph of 1989, but he threw a spanner in the works by declaring he was a Chelsea supporter. Bugger, bugger, bugger...

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Sutton United blog: Croydon Athletic, Jeff Stelling and The Bromley Boys

Don't be confused by the title of this post. Jeff Stelling and the Bromley Boys isn't the name of a football-mad band formed by the Sky Sports presenter and his cronies. All will make sense if you read on.

I've taken a break from lounging by the pool for five minutes to jot down a quick line or two, with it being a match day and all that. It's a tough life,

Croydon Athletic, hmmm. I have just taken a look at our forum and see a chap going by the name of waddoneagle, not his real name you understand, has suggested that tonight's match might be an easy three points for the Us. I'm not so sure about that. Although we've obviously won a fair few games this season already, we have laboured to victory a number of times, so I am expecting the big match to be a bit of a toughy.

The talking point of the holiday so far came on Monday night while I was enjoying a few jars with some pals as we watched the Blackpool v West Brom game on the box. The conversation, as so often is the case, turned towards Sutton United. I realised that a couple of the chaps used to go regularly to Gander Green Lane but stopped for some reason, so I asked them why. Crikey, the booze-fueled conversation soon heated up.

It turns out that they lost interest around the time we last got relegated from the Conference. I was amazed to hear that one of them now follows Arsenal, who he 'has always had a soft spot for' while the other would rather watch Jeff Stelling and his pals over a few pints every weekend rather than come and watch Sutton these days. Poor show.

I don't know how you can do that. You can't suddenly change your team...can you? Come to think of it, the second chap sent me an email a few weeks ago telling me that a colleague of his had mentioned the following day's Sutton v Carshalton game and was I going to it. I pointed out to him that we were away to Lowestoft.

Booooo to him. His interest has got to such a level that he hasn't got the foggiest idea who we're playing.

Don't you worry about it. I gave the pair of them a good ticking off.

Anyway, while I sit back and put my feet up for a week I have thankfully made a wise choice in terms of my holiday reading matter. The Bromley Boys by Dave Roberts is an excellent book and I am already close to finishing it. I don't want this to seem like a shameless plug, but it's a book that will strike a chord with fans of non-league clubs across the land.

Non-league football tends to attract a certain type of person and Roberts touches on this perfectly. To top it off, Sutton United get a fair few mentions too.

I must dash, I've got some sunbathing to do. I hope the boys do the business tonight...three points please lads.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Sutton United blog: Bradley Woods-Garness, Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen, Croydon Arena and Amber Rambler - the Twitter twit

Phew! Thank crikey for that. I need not have worried that I had jinxed Sutton United's FA Trophy ambitions by blogging about Halloween horrors from seasons past. Step up, the loveable BWG, Bradley Woods-Garness.

With a name like that you'd expect to see him quaffing champagne at All Bar One in Sutton with the likes of Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen, Rachael Hayhoe Flint...you know, her of England womens' cricket fame, and Forbes Phillipson-Masters, the former Yeovil Town defender.

But no, our double-barrelled hot-shot would rather be grafting with the rest of the boys in amber and brown and in the process netting the winner against Evesham United.

By all accounts the performance at St Geroge's Lane today wasn't one to remember but, a win is a win, and we got a clean sheet too. So now we can look forward to going into the hat for the Third Qualifying Round where we could meet Blue Square South opposition. Woohoo. Yes, we could have a mouth-watering clash with Thurrock to look forward to.

I don't know about you but after today's little diversion I am keen to see the Us get back to Ryman Premier League (RPL) action. So, it's just as well we're playing the much-troubled Croydon Athletic this coming week.

When I was a lad, a trip to Croydon for a football match usually meant watching the Us take on Croydon FC at one of the most soul destroying venues I have ever been to, Croydon Arena. Forget scarves, hats and replica shirts, the first thing I used to bung in the car for a trip to that place was a pair of binoculars. You were miles away from the action. The last time I heard, there were plans for a major housing development on the acres of land which seperate the main stand from the pitch.

Anyhow, time has marched on and, while Croydon FC have sinced dropped in to some kind of football abyss, Croydon Athletic have risen to the dizzy heights of the RPL. They are scrapping for their lives at the moment and Wednesday's match will be a tough one. The boys need to keep rolling up their sleeves to grind out the points. I'll accept a 1-0 win with a Nani-esque goal like the one he scored today against Spurs... afterall, that'll be three points in the bag thank you very much.

Amber Rambler on Twitter - click here!
Ok, I've done something which I never thought I would do...join Twitter. I am no techno-bod and therefore I have no idea what I am doing. For instance, I have just worked out what RT means. I guess the biggest mistake I made so far was to follow AFC Wimbledon before my beloved Sutton United. Well, I shan't be making that mistake again, you never know who is watching you.

Your views and comments are most welcome. Leave a comment so that others can see it or email me. My scribble about Croydon FC has got me thinking. What are the worst grounds you have seen the Us play at?

Anyway, I am off to sunnier climbs this week for a much-needed break but will try to post some nonsense or other.

Adios amigos

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Evesham United, Hednesford 9 Weymouth 0, Delia Smith and Amber Rambler on Twitter

Well, here it is. Game day. Yes, I know it's still the wee small hours but the day of reckoning has arrived.

Have I tempted fate with my post about Sutton United Halloween horrors, or will the boys in amber and brown exorcise the demons of bygone years with a victory at Evesham United in the FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round? Lets hope it's the latter.

I don't really know much about Evesham, I must admit, apart from the fact they share Worcester City's ground. But, I do know from bitter experience that St George's Lane holds some disturbing memories for the Us... however, there is a shaft of light for us optimistic souls to cling to.

The last time we played there was against Worcester City, and yes, we may have conceeded a last minute equaliser...but this is Evesham. Nice, friendly Evesham. Surely they couldn't do the dirty on us, could they?

They lost 1-0 at Banbury in their last outing...but, hold on....what's this? An amazing result from last weekend which seemed to escape my notice... Hednesford 9 Weymouth 0. Crikey. If it's anything like that time the Terras lost 9-0 at home to Rushden and Diamonds then I reckon they must have put out their under 11s. Want to know what in the blue blazes I'm on about? Click here.

Anyhow, while I'm writing this, many a Sutton fan will be catching some shut-eye before waking up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and heading off in good time to Worcester for the big match. A thread on the fans' forum entitled Beer in Worcester certainly caught my eye. Beer and football has to be a winning combination.

A trip to Worcester represents a great opportunity to sample some proper pubs and lubricate those vocal cords in time for the big game. All the talk on this particular thread may be about a Wetherspoons pub called the Postal Order, but if it's anything like my trip to the Moon on the Hill in Sutton earlier in the week then that boozer will be chavtastic.Wetherspoons has its place, I'll admit, especially if it's so close to the railway station.

This leads me on to something I was thinking about the other day. So, what if the boot was on the other foot, and let's say you are an Evesham fan coming to Sutton for the first time. Where would you go for a pre-match beer?

- The Old Bank. Close to Sutton station, just like the Postal Order might be in Worcester, except not a Wetherspoons pub, thankfully.
- The Sydney Arms. Close to our beloved Gander Green Lane home, but never really a favourite with Sutton fans over the years.
- The Plough. Seems to have gone downhill over time, but a stone's throw from West Sutton station
- The Club Bar. If you ask me, seems to be the sensible choice at the moment.

I've picked the above four pubs because of their proximity to transport and the ground.
However, you lot are well versed in such matters, so, in true Delia Smith style...where are you? Let's be 'avin you! What I'm really trying to say is, where do you guys think the best/worst place is to go for pre or post-match drinks?

Amber Rambler on Twitter!
Anyway, before I go to the Land of Nod, I should point you in the direction of the Amber Rambler Twitter page. Yep, I've got no idea how Twitter works, but I'm giving it a go. So, please drop by here.

Night, night.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Sutton United blog: Sutton United Halloween Nightmares, Kingstonian, Wycombe Wanderers and the Boom Boom Club

With Halloween rapidly approaching I thought I'd raid my memory banks to recall some of Sutton United horror shows. Hopefully this post wont be a bad Omen for this weekend's clash with Evesham.

Of course everyone has their own best and worst moments of following their team whether it's Manchester United, Crystal Palace, AFC Wimbledon or Paul Doswell's amber and brown army. I haven't prepared for this in the slightest, but these are just a selection of matches that spring to mind. They're in no particular order, apart from the first one, perhaps.

Kingstonian 6 Sutton United 0 This was the FA Trophy semi-final second leg in 2000, it was nicely set up at 1-1 after the first match and Us supporters across the land had high hopes of a Wembley return. However, we submitted without so much as a whimper. I followed this match from the comfort of my living via BBC Teletext as, thankfully, I couldn't make the game. It could've been worse, I might have followed the game on Clubcall.

Sutton United 0 Wycombe Wanderers 4 Another FA Trophy semi-final second leg (1994), another submission without a whimper. Having won the first leg at Adams Park 3-2 Us' supporters across the land had high hopes of a Wembley return...you get the picture...

Runcorn 5 Sutton United 1 This classic away day to forget was from 1990, I think. Canal Street was not a happy hunting ground for Sutton. If only I had remembered this when my so-called pals talked me into driving up to Merseyside that day. Can't remember much about it, although I think we celebrated Paul McKinnon's late penalty with a sarcastic showing of jubilation. I remember having a swift pint in a pub called The Masonic before the long drive back south...we got in at midnight or thereabouts. Shame the Linnets went by the wayside, they were a decent old lot.

Yeading 4 Sutton United 1 We got absolutely spanked by the then London Spartan League side in an FA Cup Second Qualifying Round tie. It was truly awful, especially as Sutton were taking their first tentative steps into the big bad world of the GM Vauxhall Conference at the time. The mere mention of Yeading's name sent Sutton fans running for the hills in the years that followed.

Bishop Auckland 2 Sutton United 1 Crikey, this was a bad one. It was an FA Trophy replay, I think in the Second Round. We were riding on a crest of a wave having done the dirty on Coventry and, despite drawing with Bishop Auckland in the first match at Gander Green Lane, thanks to a late Paul McKinnon strike, we had high hopes of making it through to the next round. The thing is about having high hopes is that they exist just so that you can feel thoroughly hacked off when they don't come to fruition. I seem to recall a cracking atmosphere with 1,700 attending the replay. Anway, the upshot of it all was that we lost, it was a flippin' long coach journey back to Sutton which ended when I shut the door behind me roughly around 4.30am.

Anway, that's enough misery for the time being. If you want to contact me email amberramblerblog@gmail.com

Crikey, do you notice that just from that selection of matches four of the five are from FA competitions...what do we have coming up on Saturday? Come on boys, let's have a result this time, please.

With Sutton United taking to the road to play Evesham United in the FA Trophy this weekend, the biggest event happening at Gander Green Lane is of the musical variety.  There's a Halloween tribute in memory of George McFall, one of the co-founders of the Boom Boom Club. The big gig takes place this Sunday.

To check out the action from Sutton's last home match with Tonbridge Angels then click here.