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.

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