Thursday, 3 March 2011

Sutton United blog: David Pleat's beige suit, Ian Bogie and Darren Ebsworth

With a fantastic suffix such as Angels you'd expect Tonbridge to play at a ground called The Heavens or The Pearly Gates and take to the field to the sound of a harpist playing that Robbie Williams track, Angels.

But, such is real life, they play at Longmead Stadium and that's where Leroy Griffiths answered the prayers of the Sutton fans with the only goal of the game in the crunch first versus third clash almost a couple of weeks ago.

I wasn't at the big game unfortunately, but I waited patiently for Twitter updates throughout the afternoon.

When that Heaven-sent Tweet arrived relaying the news that Griffiths had scored it triggered a series of involuntary actions. I jumped out of my chair and ran around my living room in the style made popular by David Pleat in 1983, but forget all that business about trying to button up a beige suit while running, I had trouble trying to contain my cardigan amid all the excitement.

I repeated the act when word reached me from Twitter Towers that the mighty Us had won. Then I skipped of to the pub, my spirits lifted, to raise a glass or seven to my boys in amber and brown.

Sinking seven beers can be somewhat silly. It normally results in my being sozzled on a Saturday and feeling as sick as a dog on a Sunday. But, it was worth it. The boys did their bit by bringing the Angels down to earth and I did mine by lowering the tone in AbraKebabra later that night. You can't get fairer than that.

Last Saturday really was a five star day in many respects. Allow me to explain.

Sutton's 5-1 mauling of Maidstone was followed by five pints in five different pubs. I popped into The Crown, Sutton Arms, O'Neils and Old Bank, but not before I had my first post-match pint in The Sydney Arms. Yes, I know what you're thinking, I go to all the best places.

I woke up on Sunday morning with words 'One Richard Jolly, there's only one Richard Jolly' still ringing in my ears after the hot-shot bagged a brace on his return to Gander Green Lane to stun the Stones. Darren Ebsworth, Leroy Griffiths and Bradley Woods-Garness got the other goals.

Ebsworth is rapidly becoming one of my favourite players. He put in a decent defensive display as well as unleashing a stunning free-kick from 25 yards which flew into the top corner. The goal was expertly captured by club photographer Paul Loughlin. To view the pictures click here.

After the Maidstone massacre I allowed serious thoughts of our possible promotion to enter my mind for the first time. Just imagine, there'll be an open-top bus tour down Sutton High Street in front of bemused shoppers, a civic reception hosted by the Mayor, and Paul Doswell's men will even get to meet Theo Paphitis at the plush Ryman League presentation evening.

Oh, wait a minute. Scrap the bit about civic reception. The Council blew the budget for that on wooden animals for the High Street.

Any rate, I am starting to believe we might finish the job off now. While we're playing and picking up the points, our rivals are havimg matches postponed as the fixture backlog mounts up.

Apart from Jolly's double, Ebsworth's effort and my five pints, the other highlight from Saturday was the induction of the first 10 figures into the Sutton United Hall of Fame. To see legends like Larry Pritchard, John Rains, Paul McKinnon and Barrie Williams back down the Lane was a real treat, but I'll write about that another time.

If Darren Ebsworth is one of my favourite players at the moment, then Gateshead are near the top of the list of teams I'm currently keeping an eye on.

February was a fabulous month for Ian Bogie's boys who won seven out of seven, scoring 22 goals in the process and conceeding only three. They wreaked havoc on Wrexham (7-2) and caused carnage at Kettering (4-1) in the Blue Square Premier before beating Blyth (2-0) in their own backyard to earn a two-legged FA Trophy semi-final tussle with Darlington.

The Heed, the nickname by which Gateshead are also known, have been so prolific in front of goal lately that many football observers are calling them the hot Heeds.

Ok, I made that bit up.

Any rate, if the Heed make it to Wembley for the final then I'll be there to back the boys from the north-east.

Finally, Wealdstone are next up for Sutton this Saturday which sees two of the league's form sides go heed-to-heed. Sorry, I am getting addicted, I mean head-to-head.

Hopefully Richard Jolly will have got a taste for rolling Stones over after hitting a hat-trick for Wealdstone against Maidstone during his recent loan stint, as well as handing out another double dose to the Kent club for us last weekend. Would he dare dish out another double, this time against his old club? I'd like to think so...

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