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.


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.

Email me: amberramblerblog@gmail.com

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...

Email me: amberramblerblog@gmail.com