Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Mascot Grand National - it's the race they're all talking about

It’s hardly surprising that Gander Green Lane is currently in the grip of Mascot Grand National fever. By the time the team takes to the field against Margate on Saturday that would mean the first team would have had just one game in three weeks, so there’s been little else for us supporters to talk about apart from Jenny the Giraffe’s bid for the coveted crown.
I mentioned in my previous post about the allure of away days, but I have never heard of an away day like this one. Non-league football fans can be a strange old bunch at the best of times, but it appears some of our followers have hired a coach for the 170-mile round trip from Sutton to Huntingdon to cheer Jenny on. On the face of it, it seems madness, but Jenny’s running for a great cause, Radio Marsden, so any support is to be encouraged.
To watch last year's big race take a look at this:
If you want to know more, check out these links:
I don’t know about you, but I am mightily glad we’ve got a match to look forward this weekend. Margate come to town on Saturday and with any luck they’ll be a bit shattered having gone 10 rounds with Kingstonian on Monday night. Their FA Cup replay went to extra-time and then penalties before the Ks finally went through. Margate can now do what we’ve been doing for the best part of three weeks and focus on the league...if only we had any matches to play.
...and now for my latest Sutton United Hall of, NOT Hall of Farmer, there must be another blog for that kind of stuff.
Paul McKinnon
The club’s record goalscorer, McKinnon hit the net with such regularity that Blackburn Rovers took a punt on him back in 1987, and they even had Simon Garner in their team. Things didn’t work out for Macca, though and he soon found himself back in the Us side. However, by that stage he had already reached legend status. In the early eighties he spent his summers playing with the like of Malmo and Orebro in Sweden. There’s no doubt about it, Macca was a wanted man. One goal of his goals which instantly comes to mind is that bullet header against Aldershot in the FA Cup in November 1987 which was even screened on Saint and Greavsie. That was just one of his goals for Sutton, though. There were 278 others...

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Brian Cant but Sutton United legend Barrie Williams can

Once again, Sutton United were left with a blank Saturday and us supporters were forced to look on in envy as the likes of our conquerors Alton Town, Norton and Stockton Ancients and Hamble Assc battled on in the competition’s Second Qualifying Round yesterday.
Yes, it seems Hamble, the doll from cult 1970s childrens’ television show Playschool, has managed to build up a decent enough team over the years to dump old Woodstock of Snoopy fame, out of the Cup.
Hamble will, no doubt, be delighted with her £4,500 prize money and rumours have been circulating that she has already had to fend off amorous advances from Derek Griffiths and Brian Cant as they look to get their grubby little mitts on the cash.
If you’re not old enough to remember what the hell I am on about, then check out these two links.
With all this free time on my hands I had chance to think about some of our up and coming matches. We’ve got a tricky game against Margate next weekend as we jump back on that Ryman League horse, but it’s our two away games after that which intrigues me the most.
We have a couple of corkers lined up, Kingstonian and Lowestoft. These matches will be a real test of our title credentials. We certainly have an axe to grind with Kingstonian after they beat us on our patch in the play-offs last season, and Lowestoft have made the step up from Ryman League North look simple and are right behind us in the table.
It seems the Lowestoft game offers the chance to Sutton supporters to enjoy a good old-fashioned away day and there has been much talk already on the Fans’ Forum about it. This has led me to cast my mind back to the away days of yesteryear.  So, in the run-up to the Lowestoft game, brace yourself for a two-part foray into the world of away days. Today, I will just set the scene...
I don’t know about you, but I have always preferred away days to home matches. I know a lot of football supporters always say that, probably because they enjoy a few jars on the train before the match and then head off to a local hostelry once it’s over, before having a few more beers on the choo-choo home.
As we know, Sutton United’s Gander Green Lane home has many faults and isn’t a particularly good venue for watching football. I’ve been to many hundreds of matches at the Borough Sports Ground (does anyone really call it that?) over the years, but at the Harrow game on Tuesday night I took time to cast my eye over the place because I knew I’d be writing about it this week.
There’s no doubt about it, the main stand and the Collingwood Rec terrace are a good twenty yards too far back. As for the Collingwood Road terrace...well, it’s just as well the club hands out free binoculars to those hardy souls who choose to stand in that particular spot, it’s miles away from the action.
The reason why I mention all this is because, to me anyway, the atmosphere at home games is generally quite poor. We need a crowd of at least 700/800 to create some anything that even resembles noise, the ground is simply too open, and that’s hardly surprising considering it’s a converted athletics stadium. Hence that’s why away games always appealed to me as we would visit proper football grounds.
I can hear some of my pals who support Football League sides sniggering at that last sentence.
Anyhow, the Kingstonian match takes place on a Monday night, so strictly speaking, it’s a school night and not the best night for a bit of a post-match booze. Lowestoft, however, should be a different story.  Their Crown Meadow ground should provide an excellent atmosphere, and the fact the town is by the sea means it has all the ingredients for a classic away day. 
But, one step at a time. Next up, Margate. They play at Kingstonian tomorrow night in a Cup replay, so with any luck, both teams will run themselves ragged so that we might be in a position to take advantage of them in our next two games.
And now, to my next nominee to the Sutton United Hall of Fame...drum roll, please...
Barrie Williams
I will always remember dear old pipe-smoking Barrie for handing me his copy of the programme when Sutton played at Cheltenham Town back in 1987...oh, and for leading our club through the glory years which culminated, of course, in that FA Cup triumph over Coventry City. His charisma and charm shone through in his many television interviews before and after that game which was the icing on the cake to Sutton’s endeavours of the 1980s which took in a trip to Wembley, two Isthmian League championships and a lorry load of minor cup success. A true Sutton United legend. In my view, he should be the first name down on the list of Hall of Famers.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Sutton United 11 Leatherhead 1

...yes, it’s true, but more of that later...
I may not have remembered any of the goals Sutton United scored in that rather bonkers afternoon in Gateshead twenty years ago, but crikey, did I see two memorable goals on Tuesday evening.
If any supporters were queuing for a cup of Bovril to warm them up for the big game against Harrow Borough then the chances are they would have missed Richard Jolly’s volley in the first minute which opened the scoring. Wow! What a start and what a goal.
Things got even better ten minutes later when Bradley Woods-Garness unleashed a rocket from 35 yards which flew into the net and has made for pleasant YouTube viewing ever since. The BWG was so taken aback he’d scored with his wonder strike that his goal celebration resembled a drunken chicken trying to do the Birdie Song with a bag over its head – he had no idea where to run.
Want to know what I’m on about? Check out the link for the goals and that celebration.
The worrying aspect from Paul Doswell’s point of view must be how we failed put the game to bed. I felt Jolly drifted in and out of the game, we looked lightweight in midfield and fragile in defence. Yes, I know we’re top of the league, but injuries to key players such as Simon Downer and Craig Dundas have highlighted our vulnerability as a squad. Dos must realise this, hence the acquisition of Karl Murray from Carshalton Athletic.
I was impressed with Harrow, I thought they showed plenty of endeavour and attacking flare - they hit the post and missed two open goals. I, for one, wouldn’t have begrudged them a point.
What I do begrudge, however, is paying good money for a poor pint. Before the match on Tuesday I found myself with plenty of time on my hands, so I popped into The Plough, opposite the football ground. Crikey, what a soul destroying experience that turned out to be.  In a nutshell, it was awful. What a hellhole.
I remember going to the Plough a few years back for a pre-match beer and finding it busy with other supporters doing likewise. Not last Tuesday, though. It was just a handful of locals, and me. I shan’t be returning there any time soon.  It seems to me that good pubs are increasingly harder to find.
Oh well, rant over. I see on the website they’ve come up with the idea of a Sutton United Hall of Fame. Where do I start with this one? There have been so many wonderful moments over the past fifty or sixty years that to pick ten people who represent all that is good about our club has got the cogs ticking over in my head.
Without further a do, I am going to set the ball rolling on this. So here is the first name, as voted for by little old me:
Mickey Joyce
I am please to say that I was there on that Tuesday night back in 1982 when Joycie scored nine goals, yes NINE goals, in Sutton’s 11-1 demolition of Leatherhead. The score equalled Sutton’s best ever result. Surely, scoring THREE HAT-TRICKS IN ONE GAME means Joycie should be entered into the Hall of Fame by that feat alone. Ok, so we will overlook his brief dalliance with Maidstone United. I can remember virtually wetting myself when I read in the Sutton Herald that we had re-signed him from the Stones in 1986. This guy’s name struck fear into opposing sides in the 1980s.
In true Simon Cowell style, I’m going to say yes to Mickey Joyce.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Gateshead 0 Sutton United 9 (nine)

Yes, that was the score which came up on the BBC vidiprinter twenty years ago after the mighty Us visited the International Athletics Stadium to take on Gateshead in the GM Vauxhall Conference...and I was there.

When I sat down to write this, I fully intended to elaborate on last night’s success against Harrow Borough. However, I was prompted to trawl the memory banks to recall the events from that wonderful September afternoon after reading a thread posted by one Sutton supporter on the Fans’ Forum. So, I am diverting my attentions away from current events at Gander Green Lane for the the time being
I first went to Gateshead back in 1986 to see Sutton gain a point from a rather drab 1-1 draw. That day, I travelled on the supporters’ coach and the journey seemed to take forever. The highlight, I discovered later, was one particular Sutton fan missing our goal while he went for a wee. Now that’s funny.
Fast forward four years to 1990. Cosy coach journeys were, out and fun train trips were in. They were infinitely more exciting because it gave me and my pals the opportunity to enjoy a beer or two along the way, absolutely essential for this one day, 600-mile round trip.
A 600-mile round trip... in one day... for a football match, did I really do that? Well, yes I did, and I was mightily glad I did.
The train north was packed with West Ham United supporters who were off to see their side play Newcastle United that day. My pal and I got chatting to a few of the Hammers’ fans and they were gobsmacked when we told them where we were off to.
To cut a long story short, we were rewarded with a half-time score of 3-0 to Sutton. I distinctly remember saying to my friend that we could go on and get a record score if we carried on at that rate. Little did I realise that we actually would go on and get six more in the second half.
I can’t remember too much about the game itself, except for a late miss from close range by Carey Anderson who had a great chance to make it a big, fat ten. Funny that, nine goals scored and all I can remember from the match is a miss.
We kicked-off our post-match celebrations with a couple of swift pints in a pub near Newcastle station. I think it may have been called The Parrot. I remember we saw a right old rumpus take place between West Ham and Newcastle fans at the station before we caught our train back to London.
Once again the train was busy with Hammers’ fans whose team drew 1-1 at St James’s Park, and once again they were gobsmacked when they heard what we had to tell them. We had proof too – copies of the Saturday evening sports paper, which had a match report on Sutton’s amazing success.
What had already been a fantastic day was just about to have the icing added to it. The Sutton players and management were also on our train. We talked with striker Zak Newman, who I think scored two goals that day, and my pal even gave him his copy of the sports paper.
A few weeks later we played Gateshead in the return fixture at Gander Green Lane and surrendered a three-goal lead to draw 3-3. By the end of the season we were relegated while Gateshead survived, so they had the last laugh.
I would say that day twenty years ago was a day to remember, but the truth is, I can’t remember too much about it...

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Sutton United 2 Harrow Borough 1 - Jolly and Woods-Garness hit a couple of crackers

Phew, just made it home from Gander Green Lane having witnessed Sutton United edge home against Harrow Borough 2-1.
It all started so well. I mentioned in my last post that I’d like to see more from Mr Jolly Esquire and the BWG and, by crikey, did I get it. With just 20 seconds gone, Jolly hit a belter from 16 yards, the ball flew into the top corner of the net. Then, just ten minutes later, Bradley Woods-Garness hit a shot from 35 yards that whistled past the Harrow goalkeeper and was only stopped in its tracks by the net. What a fantastic start.
There would have been quite a few people in the crowd of 478 who would have missed Jolly’s opener, but I’m glad to say that I was one of the lucky ones who saw it.
However, Sutton failed to kill their opponents off and were almost made to pay for it. Harrow hit back with a great goal of their own just before half-time, much to the delight of their small band of travelling fans.
The second half was a bit of a tense affair with Harrow hitting a post, and coming perilously close to adding a second late on. Sutton also had a further goal ruled out by the referee, who it has to be said, had a pretty dire evening in the middle and was the target of much abuse from both sets of supporters. All this and I haven’t even mentioned that Harrow had two players sent-off.
It was my first visit to the Lane this season, and I have to say I came away thinking we were a bit on the lucky side. I though Harrow looked lively when going forward and perhaps deserved a point from this one. Still, you won’t find me complaining. If we win while playing below par, then that’s a good sign.
Sutton have now won six games out of seven, a record all the other clubs in our division will look at with envy, but Lowestoft are waiting in the wings, so it’s an absolute must that we keep the momentum going.
The Ryman Premier League table has an intriguing look to it already with several clubs, hot on our heels. See it for yourself
Well, I’m not going to worry about that now. I will replay those two fantastic goals in my head until I reach the Land of Nod. I’m sure I will sleep well tonight.

Monday, 20 September 2010

The Non-League Paper, Accrington Stanley v Liverpool and Sutton United v Harrow Borough

One of the simple pleasures in life is nipping to the paper shop early on a Sunday morning to pick up those essential ingredients which I need to help kick-start my day: bread, milk, eggs, bacon and , every now and then, a copy of the Non-League Paper (NLP). Oh, and I how can I forget, a fiver’s worth of scratch cards. Crikey, I really must stop doing that...
But, just as my cherished routine was in full swing, I almost choked on a big gulp of coffee.
I should have known that buying a copy of the NLP a week after our FA Cup exit at the hands of Alton was a dangerous thing to do. On page seven is an interview with Alton boss John Robson, and not surprisingly, the focus is last week’s shock.
He likens the result to Accrington Stanley beating Liverpool. Being a fair kind of chap, I find it hard to begrudge Robson his Alton charges their moment of glory. After all, we’ve done the dirty on a few teams in recent times.
Thankfully, tomorrow’s match against Harrow Borough offers a chance for us to move on from our Cup clanger. It feels like us Sutton supporters have been made to endure a long ten days until our next game and I’m sure Paul Doswell would have drilled it into the boys just how important this game is. Our confidence has taken a real battering, so we need Mr Jolly Esquire and the BWG firing on all cylinders. Although we’ve undoubtedly had a great start, I’d like to see our strikers do their bit by hitting the target on a more prolific basis.
Despite having the weekend off, results went in our favour and on Sunday morning we were still top of the table and had the luxury of a game-in-hand.
Kingstonian lost at home to Maidstone, but won at Hendon tonight, while Lowestoft, Bury Town and our dear friends at Carshalton lurk in our shadow, waiting for us to trip up.  
So, guys, it’s over to you...


Friday, 17 September 2010

The Alton Aftermath...

Is it safe to come out yet?

It’s been almost a week since our atrocious FA Cup exit at the hands of Alton Town and I’ve spent the entire time at home with the curtains closed. As a matter of fact, I have barely made it out from under my duvet. Did that really happen? Well, the harsh, cold light of this autumn day tells me it truly did.

Crikey, what a difference a week makes in football. Seven days ago we had just edged a five-goal thriller at Hastings, to continue our fine start to the season and all in the Gander Green Lane garden was looking rosie...then, cue the record scratching...

Now, not only are we out the cup, but now there’s talk of our beloved leader leaving. Yep, that’s right, Paul Doswell has said he might walk out on the club. Thankfully, he only said he would leave if Sutton fail to gain promotion this season, which is nothing new to us supporters.

When he arrived at the club, Dos was like a breath of fresh air. We were having a pretty tough time of it after a string of managers couldn’t halt our descent back into the dark realms of the Isthmian League.

We had become awfully stale under John Rains, not only as a team, but also as a club. I was fully prepared to give Ian Hazel a chance but soon realised, like many others, that, perhaps he couldn’t cut it as our boss. I was bitterly disappointed when we appointed Ernie Howe as manager as I felt, rightly or wrongly, our club was trying to get out of the mire on the cheap, and I was gutted when Jimmy Dack didn’t take over. But, Dos, was brimming with self-confidence which, thankfully, penetrated the inner sanctum of the boardroom, so Bruce Elliot and his brigade of wise old suits decided to take a punt on him.

Ok, this may seem like a bit of shameless hero worship, but I don’t care. Dos not only thinks about the game which takes place on the field, but also what makes the club, as a whole, tick. He’s a businessman and had a great track record with Eastleigh, so he must have brought a good few ideas to the table when he got the Sutton job. I’ve never met him, but I’m guessing he’s a good talker. After all, he’s convinced a fair few players to travel up from the Hampshire coast and surrounds to come and join us over the last couple of years.

I think he’s great for our club. Obviously, I would love to see us go up at the end of the season and continue under his stewardship to have a crack in the Blue Square South. That has to be the aim.

In short, I don’t think Dos is going anywhere. Perhaps it was just a reaction to his frustration at the Alton result or just a newspaper trying to benefit from an eye-catching headline, but I’m sure, with us having won five out of six league games, Dos is eager to kick-on from our good early season form.

The boss didn’t waste time in wielding his axe following Saturday’s result, with both Tom Dunford and Jerson Dos Santos being shown the door. I know several supporters I’ve spoken to had high hopes for these youngsters. But, in Dunford’s case, he’s probably better off being closer to the south coast, and Dos Santos failed to live up to great expectations. In my view, Dos has made the right decision. I mean, how many chances can you keep giving a player?

This Saturday we find ourselves without a game. We were due to play Croydon Athletic in what would have been a much-anticipated clash, but obviously events have taken a nasty turn for the Rams. I don’t like to see a club go under, and hopefully they won’t, but if I’m being selfish, then I hope we might benefit from their downfall and sign one or two of their players. Well, if we don’t, then other clubs will only be too happy to take advantage of the situation.

No doubt, a number of clubs are watching the situation like hawks, ready and waiting to swoop should some of their better players become available. Anyway, the good news for the Rams is their game at Aveley appears to be going ahead next weekend, so with any luck, they’ll be up and running again.

The break might just be a good thing as it gives Dos a chance to take stock, help the team regain focus and overcome injury concerns. Hopefully, come Tuesday night when we take to the field against Harrow, we'll be up for it once again as we get back to the all-important business of winning league matches.

Finally, I emerged from my deep slumber to find that news of our poor result had almost been overshadowed by the other big story of the week. Our mascot, Jenny the Giraffe is entering the Mascot Grand National at Huntingdon racecourse. It's a bold step for such a fledgling mascot, but if I was to stick my neck out then I would say it’s a tall order to ask her to come home with the title.

Ok, I hear you. That’s enough puns for now...

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Sutton United lose at home to Alton Town - A giant let down

Ok, let’s get this FA Cup nonsense out of the way. After this shocker, I felt I just had to jot something down as another giantkilling took place at Gander Green Lane.

I am not entirely sure what caused me to have a funny feeling about today’s game with Alton, perhaps it had something to do with the Cup’s arrival in Sutton this week as the ESPN bandwagon rolled into town, but I just felt we might struggle. Want to know what I'm on about? Well, check the article out at

And so it was, the giantkillers received a lethal dose of their own medicine as Alton, from the Sydenhams Wessex League, dumped us out of this year’s competition at the first hurdle and sent Sutton fans scurrying off to pubs across the borough as they bid to drink memories of this catastrophe away.

By all accounts, the only player wearing amber and brown who came out of this with anything vaguely resembling credit was the BWG. No, not that much-loved fictional character conjured up by Roald Dahl, but Bradley Woods-Garness who is rapidly becoming Sutton’s Mr Reliable, and he found the target again today. The rest of them simply weren’t at the races, with Richard Jolly being guilty of missing several gilt-edged chances.

I was at Yeading in 1986 when, as a GM Vauxhall Conference Club, we were trounced by the then of the London Spartan League side. That was truly awful, and our lame departure from this year’s competition has got to be up there with that.

Alton’s victory means they also claim the £3,000 prize money, which would have come in handy for us and no doubt will be for them. The players have to accept responsibility for this defeat and the loss of income a few victories in the Cup can generate, so...come on boys, give us the league title and us understanding Sutton folk will overlook this depressing matter. Shame we got Alton, instead of Croydon Athletic...

The week had started so well with a fine victory at potential title rivals Hastings. I had been wondering how we’d react when we conceded our first goal of the season, and the answer was not very good, actually.

Goals from Tom Davis, Mr Jolly Esquire and the BWG meant Sutton were coasting at 3-0 with twenty minutes to go when Hastings pulled a goal back. Another one soon followed and then, in the last minute, a third one, but thankfully that was ruled out for offside meaning we came away with a 3-2 victory. The lads really rolled-up their sleeves on their trip to the Sussex coast, so Paul Doswell gave them a night off training on Thursday.

With the defeat against Alton set to hurt like hell for a while yet, it’s just as well we don’t have a game for ten days. The break will provide the ideal chance for some of our key players, such as Craig Dundas, Kennedy Adeji and Simon Downer, to recover from injury.

So that’s it for now. Well done to Alton. I will raise a glass of Hoegaarden tonight and wish them well, while trying to drown my sorrows.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Here's to the Ewes and the Rams - Sutton United and Croydon Athletic

Ok, strictly speaking the title of this post isn’t quite right, what with Sutton’s nickname being the U’s, but I just couldn’t help myself.

Anyway, through the modern wonder that is Twitter I managed to follow our game yesterday against Billericay.

It wasn’t that long ago that, if I couldn’t make it to a match, then I’d have to try and catch a glimpse of the score on BBC’s Final Score, or Sky Sports’ Gillette Soccer Saturday. But yesterday, I was able to sit on the train and check our progress at regular intervals via Twitter on my mobile phone.

An early Tweet brought with it news that Bradley Woods-Garness had put us ahead as we looked to continue our good work from our clash with Tooting last Monday. Despite not being able to attend the match, I gather we didn’t have things all our own way, with Billericay hitting our crossbar. However, not only did we manage to see the remainder of the game out to claim three more valuable points, but we also kept yet another clean sheet.

I think Tuesday night’s battle at Hastings will be a real test of our early season form. They sit lurking in our shadows, currently occupying fourth sport as the league table has an intriguing look about it already. Kingstonian are right being us in second with Lowestoft in third – all top three sides having won four out of their first five games. Check it out for yourself

As if three points and another clean sheet wasn’t enough, the National Non-League Day initiative I’ve been barking on about drew in an extra 200 fans to Gander Green Lane. The attendance was 733, which is very encouraging for a small club such as Sutton United, and the extra revenue that generates is vital.

Elsewhere in the Ryman League Premier Division today, Croydon Athletic suffered a home defeat to Concord Rangers. They are a club in real trouble and, as a fan of football, I don’t like to see other clubs in meltdown. Manager Tim O’Shea has now left the club and, with the season just over two weeks old, what promised to be an exciting season for O’Shea and his team, has already turned into a nightmare. An old pal of mine supports the Rams and he really is crestfallen by the events off the field and the way his club has been run by Mazhar Majeed. The News of the World hits the streets in a few hours and although I don’t read that particular paper, I wonder if there’ll be yet more revelations to come.

Before arriving home tonight, I nipped into the Old Bank pub in Sutton for a swift pint and was amazed to see a poster advertising the arrival of the FA Cup at that very pub next Wednesday night. Not only that, but there will be a question and answer session with for Crystal Palace and England midfielder, Geoff Thomas, and ESPN presenter Ray Stubbs. I’d had a busy day of it, but I almost had to rub my eyes in disbelief. Apparently it’s all to do with ESPN’s coverage of the Cup this season and word on the grapevine is that there’ll be some cameras at Gander Green Lane next Saturday when we hit the Wembley trail against Alton Town.

Of course, Sutton’s name is synonymous with the Cup and I have a feeling our hero from the win over Coventry City in 1989, Matthew Hanlan, may well be there on Wednesday too. We must be careful though, we’ve enjoyed a good few days in the FA Cup sunshine over the years, so we must treat Alton with the utmost respect next Saturday.

Anyway, it’s time I scuttled off and opened that bottle of Hoegaarden which has been in the fridge for the past week. There’s plenty to celebrate today; a win for the U’s, a clean sheet and a bigger than usual crowd...oh, and while I’m about it, I’ll raise a glass to the Rams of Croydon too.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Tooting and Mitcham 0 Sutton United 3, Tom Dunford and Croydon Athletic in trouble

Unlike former Southampton manager Alan Pardew, the U’s go marching on. Goals from Mr Jolly Esquire, Fola Orilonishe and Bradley Woods-Garness in our last two outings have put us top of the tree, while ex-Saints’ boss Pardew has been shown the door at St Mary’s Stadium.

Hopefully, whoever takes over that job will be as accommodating to Paul Doswell as Pardew was because that relationship became very beneficial to our club. Not only did they help us out at short notice during pre-season and brought a decent-sized crowd into Gander Green Lane, but we’ve managed to acquire a player who might be going places in the not too distant future in the shape of Tom Dunford.

But, hold on, the latest news suggests that Pardew is one of the names in the hat for the Aston Villa job. You’ve got to love football’s mad managerial merry-go-round, haven’t you. I’m sure Villa can do better than letting Pardew take the helm at Villa Park, and I wouldn't mind betting Pardew will be back in a decent job soon.

Anyhow, back to the matter in hand. It may not have rained goals as such over the weekend, but the sun was certainly shining on us as we edged past Folkestone Invicta and brushed aside Tooting and Mitcham. As a result, we now find ourselves sitting pretty in first place. Of course, there are still plenty of miles left in this race yet, but for the time being at least, the Ryman League Premier Division table makes for satisfying reading for Sutton supporters across the land.

I made my first visit of the season to a Sutton game at Tooting and was rewarded with an excellent performance from the boys. Given the chances we missed, three-nil seemed to be just about the right result. We gave them a couple of decent opportunities to score, but equally, we could have won by a wider margin, having hit the woodwork on a couple of occasions and created some other decent openings.

My dad made it along to the game too. He arrived after Jolly had given us the lead and then left a minute or so before Woods-Garness hit our third. His aim, on departure, was ‘to beat the crowd’. I couldn’t help but think that Imperial Fields on local derby day is not exactly Wembley Stadium on Cup Final day. Apparently twenty minutes later he was sat at a packed bus stop near the ground awaiting the arrival of the 280, so he’d have been better off joining me and my pals in the bar after the game for a celebratory pint of or two.

I sat watching the TV for a bit in the clubhouse, checking out the Blue Square Premier results. To my surprise, the breaking story on Sky Sports News wasn’t our fine win at Tooting, but rather this strange sentence: PAKISTAN ARRIVE IN TAUNTON. Crikey, so a touring cricket team arrives in one of the towns where it’ll be playing a match. That’s like saying: CHELSEA ARRIVE AT OLD TRAFFORD. Please tell me that last sentence has never been on the Sky Sports ticker.

Recently, Sky Sports News, with its over-the-top way of presenting and reporting on selected sports, has been taken off Freeview and I can’t say I am disappointed. I have certainly had enough of their rather sensationalist method of reporting.

Then I almost had to rub my eyes in disbelief, were they really reporting live from Colston Avenue, the home of our dear friends at Carshalton Athletic...yes, they were! It took a minute or so to kick in before I realised it was all to do with the events off the field at their opponents of the day, Croydon Athletic, who have been i n the news because they are owned by Mazhar Majeed, the chap at the centre of the current cricket betting scandal.

I have to say that I’m not surprised that Croydon are in such dire straits. A club who can entice a player from a newly promoted Premiership side to come and play in front of one Rams’ fan and his dog has got to raise plenty of suspicion as well as a few eyebrows. I will be interested to see how Crawley Town get on in the coming months having just forked out a large fee for York City’s Richard Brodie.

The financial disarray which a lot of clubs in the Football League have found themselves in is sadly being replicated across the non-league scene. The list of clubs who have chased the dream by spending beyond their means or have just generally been run badly is getting longer with every passing week. All of a sudden Crawley has money to splash around. I just hope, for the sake of the fans, that their rise isn’t followed by an almighty fall like the one which happened at Boston United when they had a certain Steve Evans in charge.

Wherever you may be, I'd be interested to know what you guys think, about the greed in football, in not just the higher echelons of the game, but in non-league and in sport in general.

Without wanting to appear smug in any way, all this talk about football finance makes me glad I support such a well run club as Sutton United. I think the sale of Charlie Taylor to Barnet has been a good bit of business. With an undisclosed fee, a small sell-on clause and a pre-season game lined-up for next season then it seems like a good deal all round. He can be a real handful on his day, and who knows, he might just do a decent job for the Bees.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that the first National Non-League Day might see a bigger than usual crowd down at Gander Green Lane. It would be nice if the boys can rise to the challenge and beat Billericay, who sit in eighth at present. With the chance to impress some potential new support, this is not just an important game in terms of our league aspirations.

Before I sign off for now, I just want to share a little tale from the Tooting clubhouse. A pal of mine went to the bar to order a round of drinks and asked if she could pay with her cash card. She was promptly told they don’t accept card payments. This wasn’t right, I should know, I’d bought the previous round with my card, albeit the smaller bar. Anyhow, when my friend pointed the barmaid in the direction of a sign on the wall which read something along the lines of ‘WE ACCEPT CARD PAYMENTS’ she was told, and I quote ‘well, it’s like the papers, innit? You shouldn’t believe everything you read’. Thankfully my persistent pal won this minor battle and we enjoyed our second celebratory pint.

That’s enough of writing in capital letters for one week, CHEERS for now ...