Friday, 28 October 2011

Sutton United blog: Franny Lee, Leroy Griffiths and Leatherhead FC

When I was at an impressionable age I bought a VHS video entitled 101 Great Goals from WH Smith.

I remember saying to my friend these very words: ‘We’ll never get bored ever again.’

What a berk. Of course, after we’d watched the video 101 times we were bored senseless and went back to playing Football Manager, Manic Miner and Horace Goes Skiing on our ZX Spectrums.

One of the highlights of the video was a goal scored by Franny Lee for Derby against Manchester City at Maine Road. You know the one, where Barry Davies’s voice actually breaks during all the excitement.

When Lee fires the ball high into the net, Davies shrieks: ‘Interesting, very interesting! Look at his face. Just look at his face!’  His voice breaks at the second mention of the word his.

It’s great. You must watch it...

Me and my mate literally wet ourselves laughing the first time we heard that. We liked it so much that I went over to the video recorder to rewind the footage so we could watch it four or five more times and we repeated the phrase thousands of times over the following weeks, months and years.

I saw five great goals on Tuesday night when Sutton thumped a pretty decent Salisbury City side 5-0.

They were five goals I definitely could watch over and over again. In fact, I could watch them so much that I have even packed away my ZX Spectrum for the time being. I’ve got SUFCTV now anyway.

Football Manager: A Mansfield striker just avoids the offside trap to put his side into a shock lead against Aston Villa. Just look at his face!

I have to agree with many folk on the fans’ forum; I would struggle to recall such a complete performance by the Amber and Chocolates, certainly in my 30-odd years supporting the club.

All the boys played well, there’s no doubt about that. But for me, the performance from Leroy Griffiths highlighted the work ethic the lads have at the moment.

Time and time again Griffiths would track back to defend, sometimes crucially, before racing back up the pitch like a gazelle to join the attack. Griffiths is 34 years young, that’s for sure.

If Griffiths is a gazelle then Paul Telfer is like a stubborn old stag in defence, patrolling his patch.

A few weeks ago I had a laugh at Telfer’s expense when I likened him to the old codger with a Zimmer frame from the BBC3 show Family Guy. Well, I owe him an apology, because he has still got a spring in his step and snuffed out a lot of the danger posed by Salisbury when they dared to enter his territory.

I am of a similar age to Telfer, yet the only animal I can really liken myself to might be a knackered old Peruvian mountain mule whose legs are about to give way.

I’ve noticed this lately, that as I go to sit down my knees give an almighty crack and, more often than not, I let out a gasp of ‘aaaahhhhhhh’ as I take a seat. Oh, and my gut is beginning to look a bit like Matt Lucas when he plays that character Dafydd Thomas, you know, the only gay in the village, or any other character come to think of it. Lucas is a big unit, that's for sure.

Any rate, I’ll have a few beers tonight and a kebab before deciding how I’m going to halt this rapid decline in my physical wellbeing. In the meantime, I’ve got my eye on a Zimmer frame on eBay.

I highlighted the performances of Griffiths and Telfer because they’re a couple of old timers who have certainly turned the clock back for Sutton’s cause. But, to be honest, I couldn’t pick a man of the match from Tuesday because the whole team clicked.

The way Sutton battled to regain the ball once they’d lost it and the way they defended was just as impressive as the five goals they scored. It was obvious by the goal celebrations that the boys are enjoying playing together and long may it continue.

We’ve been blessed with some good teams at Sutton over the years and this one is shaping up, dare I say it, to be one of the best.

On Tuesday night Craig Watkins put Sutton in control with two classy finishes before half-time; a lob and a header, the latter from a fine Harry Beautyman cross. The second half saw Sutton add three more goals courtesy of sublime chips from Craig Dundas, Beautyman and Tommy Kavanagh.

At the final whistle I headed to the boozer for a few post-match pints with a spring in my step and then bored the pants off my mates who subsequently wished they hadn’t agreed to meet me for a ‘quick drink’. I staggered home at closing time rather like a knackered old Peruvian mountain mule whose legs are about to give way.

Every game is important now as the Blue Square South table takes on a pleasing look. Not many of us would dare imagine that we’d be sitting second in the table at the end of October with a goal difference of +15 when we got hammered 5-0 at home by Woking on the opening day of the season.

If I asked if you remember Ernie Howe then you’d probably reply with ‘Ernie who’? Such is the brand of football Paul Doswell’s boys are playing at the moment that Howe’s ill-fated tenure in charge at Gander Green Lane has been confined to the history books. You'll find it under the heading Dark Ages.

Sutton fans could be forgiven for licking their lips at the prospect of facing Leatherhead in the Fourth Qualifying Round of the FA Cup on Saturday. But, the truth is, they’re not. If anything, they’re biting their lips rather nervously.

Saturday’s Cup clash, the final hurdle separating us from a potential big-money match with the likes of Charlton Athletic, Brentford and Hanworth Villa…well, maybe not Brentford…is of course, the perennial banana skin.

Everyone expects us to trounce the Tanners, but then everyone thought we’d ease past Alton Town last season, and we all know what happened there.

So, despite great form from their team and having beaten Dulwich Hamlet 5-1 and Bognor 4-0 on the Cup trail so far, Sutton fans still go into this Cup encounter rather cautiously.

The Tanners' own Cup journey has seen them overcome North Leigh (5-1), Biggleswade (2-1 in replay) and, most impressively, Billericay in their own back yard (3-0). They may be propping up the Ryman Premier League at the moment, but tomorrow's game is different, league status means sweet FA in the Cup.

I just hope that, at 5pm tomorrow, it'll be Paul Doswell who has a smile on his face just like Franny Lee.

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