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...

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