Friday, 28 January 2011

Sutton United Blog: NASA spots the ball, Andy Forbes, Richard Keys and TV-AM

Ok, ok. I hear you. Would you all please congregate in the stand behind the goal at the Gander Green Lane end of the ground and clear your throats for a rendition of...
...blog when we’re winning, you only blog when we’re winning...
Well, let me tell you this for nothing, thirteen days is a long time in blogging.
My last post followed our win at Canvey Island but since then I have gone quiet and that has coincided with two disappointing Sutton results and one resounding victory.
I am back after an unexpected mini-break and I’m ready for the three month run-in which will hopefully culminate in the Us clinching the Ryman Premier League title. It’s not going to be easy though, as our defeat at Bury Town suggests.
So, what have I missed? Well, let’s see.
* Richard Jolly has found the target at last – woohoo! –  though not for Sutton. Booo.
* Andy Forbes has joined permanently from Woking – yeeehaaah! - and he celebrated on Tuesday by launching the ball into orbit from the penalty spot. It has just been located by a NASA space probe a mere 200 million light years away from the ball David Beckham released during the 2004 European Championship quarter-final against Portugal. Noohaaah.
* And they’ll be ceilidh dancing in the streets of Buckie tonight – och aye! – at the news that East Stirlingshire have been thrown out of the Scottish Cup for fielding an ineligible player in their Third Round victory over the Highland Leaguers. Och nooo.
Apologies, for a poor Scottish accent.
Any rate, it seems like we’re doing what we can to make life hard for ourselves. After building a decent lead at the top of the table, we huffed against Concord (1-1), puffed against Bury (1-2), before blowing Croydon Athletic away on Tuesday (5-0).
Forbes atoned for his penalty miss to score just before half-time as the Ewes made light work of the Rams. He was joined on the scoresheet by Darren Ebsworth, Craig Dundas, Sam Page and an own goal.
Should you find yourself in the company of Andy Gray and Richard Keys over the weekend then keep this to yourself - you never know who might be filming you - but I reckon if Croydon had fielded their ladies’ team then the final score would have been somewhat closer.
Incidentally, talking of Richard Keys, I stumbled across this today. Ah, the memories. Gordon Honeycombe, Wincey Willis, Mad Lizzie and Anna Ford. And who can forget dear old Rustie Lee. I suspect Keys' latest antics stopped her raucous laughter dead in its tracks.
Marvel at Geoff Clark's sweater, chuckle at Charles Golding's glasses and fall in love once again with a young Ulrika Jonsson, who according to her brief biog was 'a big hit with male viewers'. She was, of course, a big hit with Stan Collymore in more ways than one.

Personally, I was always keen on Anna Ford.

She was confident, had good judgement, knew her stuff and gave her male colleagues a good run for their money. In many ways she was the 1983 version of Sian Massey.
TV-AM could do with updating this site though. It says Keys is 'now the face of Sky Sports'. Mind you, the site designers are probably stuck in the past and using a ZX Spectrum. It was a time when female football officials were the stuff of futuristic science fiction stories.
Croydon’s performance resembled a trembling Ram staring an eager predator in the eyes for the second time in three days. Lowestoft feasted on four goals at the weekend then our favourites fed five to us hungry fans to compound their already perilous position.
It’s been a tough old slog for the Rams this season and you have to feel sorry for them as they try to rebuild. They looked good for the first eight minutes then Sutton scored, their heads went down and the farmer closed the meat wagon door behind them and packed them off to the slaughterhouse.
Crikey, I am starting to sound like Ian Holloway. Time to call it a day.
This weekend Paul Doswell will be aiming to repeat the dose his troops handed Croydon and show those Essex chavs from Aveley that the only way is Sutton. 

Come on you amber and chocolates!

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Friday, 14 January 2011

Sutton United blog: Ramon Giwa update, Richard Jolly, Jennifer Aniston and Friends

I posed a question early last month. It went something like this...
Who the hell is Ramon Giwa?
His name appeared in the programme from our Conference match with Yeovil Town in 1999 without a kit sponsor and I wanted to know a little bit more about him.
Well, thanks to a nice chap who emailed me last week I can now tell you he lives back in his home country of Nigeria and teaches football to youngsters.
Thank you to my man in the know for sending me a picture of him too. Should I find any more out about him then I will let you know. You do want to know, don't you?
Any rate, I wonder if Ramon would have had any words of advice for Sutton’s current crop of first-teamers who put in a rather disjointed performance at Horsham last Saturday.

I arrived at Goring’s Mead full of optimism which was fuelled, it has to be said, by a few pints of Badger Ale. Within 15 minutes of the start I found myself making plans to drown my sorrows as the Hornets stung us twice with two quick goals, including one from former Sutton man Billy Dunn.

Although Craig Crocodile Dundas pulled one back for us we soon found ourselves two goals behind again and were indebted to Kevin Scriven for saving us from further embarrassment.
Super Kev’s super save from Anthony Storey’s not so super penalty was simply superb, as was his last-gasp lunge to clear Sam Page’s wayward backpass off the line.
Horsham looked far hungrier and thoroughly deserved their victory. I was impressed with the way they played for each other while our boys huffed and puffed without really stringing three passes together.
Admittedly, there were more craters on the pitch than on the surface of the moon but that’s still no excuse for the guys to launch the ball into orbit at every opportunity. What’s the point, unless Paul Doswell decides to stick Jenny the Giraffe up front for us next game. I’d like us to keep the ball on the ground and try to get some passing moves going, but if we have to get out of the Ryman Premier League by clogging our way out then so be it, I guess.

We missed a lifeline late in the game when Richard Jolly fired wide (or did he shin it wide?) when it seemed easier to score, but when it hasn't been your day, your month, or even your year, we'll still be there for you...

Cue the theme tune to Friends by The Rembrandts.

Even if that miss by Mr Jolly Esquire does end up on You've Been Framed some time soon I am sure he will be on target before long, and then, once he is, there'll be more goals to follow.

You've Been Framed: Richard Jolly may be going through a barren spell, but just like the cast of Friends, we'll be there for him.
Any rate, the upshot of all that was we could have taken a right walloping had it not been for Scrivs. We were lucky to escape from Horsham with a 3-1 defeat.

Thank crikey then for Tuesday night's turnaround at Canvey Island. I started to worry that perhaps we were on a slump, but at least we're back to winning ways so soon after our Sussex setback.

I couldn't make it to the game, but to quote ewellchris from the Fans' Forum 'never before has watching Twitter been this exciting.'

I am not sure if he was talking about the match or the poor unfortunate Sutton fan who got hit in the face by a stray ball, but I know what ewellchris means, even if that make the pair of us sound a little sad.

I also kept an eye on Twitter and was mightily relieved when Roald Dahl's the BWG netted the all-important third goal. Apparently it was a bit of a cracker.

Andy Forbes had earlier shown what a decent acquisition he has been for Sutton by smashing in two penalties to cancel out Canvey Island's opener.

Well played not only to the boys but also to the supporters who made the trip to Essex on Tuesday. Let's hope the lads keep it going against Concord tomorrow. I can't make the game, so it'll be another enthralling afternoon checking Twitter for updates...can't wait.

Come on you Yellows!

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Sunday, 9 January 2011

Sutton United blog: Terry Wogan, Jack Charlton, Coventry City and the FA Cup.

Rather like another fine innings from England’s Ashes hero Alistair Cook I feel inclined to raise not my bat, but my laptop, with this, my fiftieth post.
Well done me.
Thanks for the support guys and gals.
Any rate, let’s crack on...
I would have posted this yesterday had I not ended up finding the answers to all my problems in the bottom of a beer glass in Horsham. I’ll come to that in my next post, this one is all about the FA Cup Third Round.
There are a few websites and blogs offering rundowns of FA Cup Third Round shocks from down the years. I thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look at Sutton United’s Third Round appearances.
Aaah, the memories of Middlesbrough 88, Coventry City 89, Notts County 93 and, for some of you, Hillingdon Borough 70, come flooding back.
Put together, our record in the Third Round isn’t bad at all: P6 W2 D2 L2 F9 A7. Let’s leave the statistics there though, our Fourth Round results don’t make for such pleasant reading.
So, better late than never, here we go...

1970  Hillingdon Borough Drew 0-0 & Won 4-1
Having beaten Dagenham away (1-0) and Barnet away (2-0) Sutton made it to the magical Third round of the Cup for the first time in the club’s history.
Let’s be honest, the draw could have been kinder. Instead of Liverpool, Manchester United or Arsenal, the Us were paired with that football powerhouse from the Southern League, Hillingdon.
Still, looking on the bright side, it offered both clubs a great chance to progress even further in the competition.
I can only imagine how tense the match must have been as the teams fought out a 0-0 draw. Crikey, Sutton really worked hard to earn home advantage in the Cup proper that year.
I think I’m right in saying that 8,000 people attended the replay at Gander Green Lane and witnessed the Us triumph 4-1.
That must have been a magical night because the winners knew they would earn the right to entertain Football League Champions Leeds United whose side featured the likes of Billy Bremner, Jack Charlton, Norman Hunter, Peter Lorimer, Johnny Giles and Allan Clarke. In other words, after all their hard work, the Us had hit the jackpot.
I struck a  jackpot of sorts myself a few years later when my mum bought a copy of the programme from the Leeds game at a jumble sale for 10p. She’s always had an eye for a bargain.
Leeds went on to win the Cup in 1970, beating Arsenal 1-0 at Wembley thanks to an Allan Clarke header.

Did you know? From 1970-74 there was an FA Cup Third Place Play-off.

1988 Middlesbrough  ­Drew 1-1 & Lost 0-1 (aet)
Right, now I can comment on the next four entries with first-hand experience. Next up, Middlesbrough.
Gary Pallister, Stuart Ripley, Brian Laws, Bernie Slaven, Tony Mowbray and Colin Cooper may not be in the same league as the aforementioned Leeds legends, but Boro’ were riding high in the Second Division at the time, they may even have been top when the draw was made.
The Us battled hard and gave a great account of themselves in front of the ITV cameras, but fell behind to a Pallister header midway through the second half.
However, just as legendary commentator Brian Moore was preparing to try and put a positive spin on Sutton's disappointing afternoon, up jumped Mark Golley to plant a header past Stephen Pears into the top corner of the net. The goal sent the Sutton fans, a large number of whom were wearing Campri ski jackets, wild and earned the Us a midweek trip to Ayresome Park.
I was one of those hardy souls who made their way to Cleveland, as it was back then. I think there was something in the region of 18,000 at the replay which saw the Us give it their all.
With three minutes left, and with the game level at 0-0, a header from Nigel Golley, Mark’s brother, hit the crossbar and bounced away. I tried not to allow myself to think of what might have been when a Paul Kerr strike in extra-time earned Boro a trip to Everton in the next round. The Merseysiders eventually won 2-1 in the second replay.
I remember being very proud of the Sutton boys when they came over to supporters at the end of the game. I even caught sight of myself in the background on Thames News the following evening when Tony Rains was interviewed on the pitch. I was wearing something very similar to a Campri ski jacket, but believe you me, it wasn’t a Campri ski jacket. It was a cheap imitation my mum bought for me from Sutton Market. Like I say, she knew a bargain when she saw one.
Rains, of course, wouldn’t have to wait long for another moment in the spotlight.
And here it is...

1989 Coventry City  Won 2-1
The route Sutton took to the Third Round was similar to that of that of 1970.
Once again the Us had to overcome two non-league sides away from home, and once again Dagenham were our First Round victims (4-0).
In the next round Sutton went to Aylesbury United and triumphed 1-0 after a tense tussle thanks to a Lennie Dennis goal. By the time the referee blew his final whistle I was a bundle of nerves. The boys had made it through to the big stage for the second season in a row, that's quite an achievement.
That evening I sat glued to the television to watch the draw for the Third Round on Match of the Day.
When Sutton's name was pulled out the hat first I was so excited that I could hardly speak. When Coventry City were next out I found my voice all right, I almost shouted the house down. And so began six or seven weeks  
I spent much of that time reading the Internet of the day, Ceefax (BBC) or Oracle (ITV). I cut out every snippet of FA Cup news from the Sutton Herald as the countdown to the big game gatherered pace and the profile of our club rose to unprecidented levels.
I remember the weekend before the big game going for a kickabout over the park on a bleak wintery afternoon with some pals and we enacted what we imagined to be a famous Sutton victory. Of course, we never for one minute thought it would come true.
And so, to the day itself. I was at Gander Green Lane early to soak up the atmosphere. There was definitely a special feel in the air.
I could write reams about this day, and perhaps on another post, I will, but to cut a long story short, this was one of the greatest days of my life.
With a mixture of desperate defending, the odd counter-attack and more desperate defending the Us held the Sky Blues to 0-0 as half-time approached. Then, an intelligent near-post corner from Micky Stephens was flicked on by Nigel Golley for that most lethal of predators, Tony Rains, to head past Coventry skipper Brian Kilcline and into the net. Cue, euphoria. I have never cheered a goal so hard in all my life. When the referee blew his whistle for the break my pulse was racing.
The second period was possibly the longest half of football I have ever had the pleasure of watching. I can say that now, 22.year on, but at the time it was like watching a scary film from behind the sofa.
Dave Phllips made many of us put our fingers over our eyes when he scored Coventry's equaliser in the 52nd minute and we sat back to prepare for the First Division side to rack up a cricket score.
Hold your horses!
Seven minutes later, following another fine delivery from Stephens and cross from Phil Dawson, Matthew Hanlan volleyed Sutton ahead once again. Flippin' heck. I cheered so hard that I spent the rest of the weekend talking like one of Marge Simpson's sisters.
The next half-an-hour seemed to last a lifetime. Coventry hit the post and bar with a single effort on goal from Steve Sedgely, Cyril Regis saw a close range effort saved by Sutton goalkeeperTrevor Roffey, and Dave Bennett went close with an acrobatic overhead kick. They were just three of the many chances the Sky Blues missed as the minutes ticked away.
The closing stages felt like an eternity which made the sound of referee Alf Buksh's final whistle sound all the sweeter.
The result propelled Sutton manager Barrie Williams, Rains and Hanlan into the national media spotlight with the latter two even appearing on Terry Wogan's chat show on BBC1. Meanwhile, being the only Sutton fan at school, I was treated like one of the cool kids by my fellow pupils after my team's famous victory rather than a bit of an oddity.
That all changed when we got thumped 8-0 at Norwich City in the Fourth Round.

1993 Notts County Lost 2-3
Yet again, the Us made it through to the Third Round thanks to two victories on the road.
In the First Round they beat Colchester United in an epic encounter 4-3 thanks to a late Ollie Morah strike after a frenetic final few minutes at Layer Road. In the Second Round a solitary late goal from Dave Jones saw Torquay United also suffer a home defeat the hands of Alan Gane’s men.
Sutton's reward was somewhat disappointing, a trip to Notts County.
Things couldn’t have got off to a worse start in this one with the Us going 2-0 down after just ten minutes. I remember thinking that the boys might get embarrassed at that point. However, they dug deep and hauled themselves back on level terms with goals from Steve Smart and Paul Barrowcliffe in the second half.
The Us really fought hard but, just as we had hopes of earning a replay, we were undone late in the game when Paul Devlin pounced to score the winner after it looked as though Sutton keeper Fitzroy McCaulsky had been fouled. Balls.

Any rate, well done to Stevenage who beat Newcastle 3-1 yesterday and good luck to Crawley Town who fly the non-league flag against Derby County tomorrow

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Monday, 3 January 2011

Sutton United blog: Robin Hood, Kevin Scriven, Keirnan Mason-Hughes and those Tooting Terrors

As expected, I felt flippin' awful on New Year’s Day after a hard night on the razz.

The damage had been inflicted at a pub, ironically as it turned out, in Tooting. I had perhaps four pints too many and had one of those room-spinning moments when I got into bed around 4am. It wouldn’t be the last time Tooting caused me pain that day.

I thought some fresh air and a stroll down to Gander Green Lane for the big game would do me good, but a pre-match beer in The Plough maybe wasn’t one of my brightest ideas. I asked for a pint of Young’s bitter but was given what looked like a glass of wee.

I thought the barman had a satisfied look on his face but I drank it anyway and then made my way across the road to cheer on the boys.

My condition improved greatly at around 3.35pm when goals from Tom Davis and Bradley Woods-Garness had put Sutton into a commanding 2-0 lead. I still felt reasonably ok when Jason Henry reduced the arrears just before the break to set up a tense second half. I had confidence the boys could finish the job off.

By the time the match was in its final throws I felt back to normal, though my nerves were jangling a bit... then the Terrors scored a last minute equaliser through Kiernan Mason-Hughes to send the day-tripping residents of Mitcham's Mandela Estate into delirium, fans of footballers with double-barrelled surnames into ecstasy and me into the pub, though not The Plough.

I knew we had to keep an eye on that Tooting lot.

Just when we thought we were safe, those little blighters picked our pockets and ran off with a point.

However, let’s be honest, it wasn’t a case of daylight robbery. I, like a few of those stood around me, had a feeling they were going to score.

We survived one close call when Kevin Scriven saved Karl Beckford’s poorly taken second-half  penalty but our inability to score that all-important third goal came back to bite us on the backside.

I thought Tooting deserved a point. They never gave up, and who knows, if they had scored that penalty then I may have been scribbling something about how Sutton had been turned over.

At the final whistle I made a swift exit and sat slumped in a corner of The Robin Hood for an hour, somewhat deflated. Then I remembered our amazing win over Wealdstone the other week. That's football for you, we pinched the points off them that day and now the Terrors took one away.


Any rate, well done to Mark Beard’s boys for a spirited performance, but personally I’ve had enough of Tooting, it’s pubs and it’s pick-pockets for now.

Thank crikey then for the Surrey Senior Cup. Hurrah!

What’s that, we’re out?

Yep, a side made up to a large extent, it has to be said, of big Wayne Shaw with a few reserves thrown in for good measure went down 1-0 at Molesey. Oh well, I’m sure none of us are really that worried about that. There’s no escaping it now, it’s all about the league.

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