Friday, 8 April 2011

Sutton United blog: Alice Beer, Cliff Hercules and Bury Town

Do you remember that television show from the 1970s and 80s called Winner Takes All? Hopefully somebody out there does or I’m on to a loser with this one.
Any rate, Saturday’s big game with Bury Town might loosely be described as a Winner Takes All clash; if Sutton win, then the Ryman Premier League title is almost assured; if Bury win, then the championship race is in the balance once more as they’ll only be two points behind with four games to go.
I’ve already decided I’m going to cope with this one like I’ve done with the majority of Sutton’s big games over the last twenty years; turn to Alice Beer (pictured). She's a faithful old drinking partner.
Beer was there when Sutton won 3-2 in front of 5,000 crowd at Martin O’Neil’s Wycombe Wanderers in the 1993 FA Trophy Semi-Final First Leg. I think the game took place on the same day as that farcical Grand National run where the horses were recalled after a couple of false starts.
The following week we got stuffed 4-0 at Gander Green Lane as our Wembley dream turned into a nightmare.
To be honest, I can’t remember too much about those Wycombe matches. I had four or five beers before the kick-off and quite a few afterwards, drinking to both success and failure. They were those kind of occasions.
Beer was also there when, in 1999, Sutton went to Aylesbury United for another Ryman Premier League title showdown.
The nerves were jangling before this one. After all, a place in the Nationwide Conference was at stake.  If we went up then we could test our silky skills against the non-league glamour boys of the day, Hereford United, Scarborough and Doncaster Rovers.
So, with such a big prize to play for, I coped in the best way I know how; I went on a pub crawl round Aylesbury before the game, sang my heart out during our 4-1 culling of the Ducks and then went on a pub crawl to the railway station before falling asleep on the train home.
You’ve got to love away days like that.

I always enjoyed going to Aylesbury. They used to be a decent side. Who could forget their prolific striker Cliff Hercules?

Sadly, like so many clubs, the Ducks hit the financial ropes, were forced to move out of their Buckingham Road ground and are now sixth in the Molten Spartan South Midland League, while their near neighbours, Aylesbury FC, are just outside the play-off places in the Zamaretto League Central Division.

To continue a similar strand from last week's blog post, perhaps Aylesbury FC and Aylesbury United should merge to form one big super-club called Aylesbury United FC. It's just a thought.

Their old ground was the scene of our memorable, but tense, 1-0 win in the FA Cup Second Round in 1988 when a Lennie Dennis goal seperated the sides.
I was just a bit too young to enjoy Alice Beer back then, but I’m sure I poked a straw into a celebratory carten of Um bongo that night after watching the Third Round draw on Match of the Day which paired us with Coventry City.
I also remember a game at Aylesbury in the early 1990s when we fought back from 4-1 down, I think it was, to draw 4-4 which was cause for more post-match merriment around the town.

We also won 6-0 at their place in 2004 as the Us, under John Rains, finished the season well to claim runners-up spot to Canvey Island. A season which, rather strangely, saw Kettering Town play a cameo role in the Isthmian set-up.

Any rate, you get my point, I miss Aylesbury. Ahem, sorry, Aylesbury United...

All this reminiscing about some big matches from yesteryear has made me forget, momentarily at least, about the matter in hand, Bury Town.

Isthmian League titles come around once in a blue moon for Sutton, 1967, 85, 86 and 99, I just hope by 5pm tomorrow we are a step closer to adding 2011 to that list.

I’d like to write more but I have an appointment with the Alice Beer garden.

1 comment:


    Winner Takes all - Messrs Tarbuck and Wheeler - never could work out how to play it though