Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Sutton United blog: Fear and self-loathing in Leatherhead

I went for a nice walk over at Beddington Park on Sunday.

While I was strolling along, listening to Birdhouse in Your Soul by They Might Be Giants, I noticed a young black labrador wouldn't leave me alone. The little fella was proudly showing off his brightly coloured squeaky toy and, quite understandably, was dribbling with all the excitement.

The look in his little eyes was basically saying to me: 'Look at me man, this is my toy. Just look, don't touch. I am having a great time. See ya.'

Life, for that dog at least, doesn't get much better than that and I know how he feels. I'm a bit like that when it comes to Kevin Scriven.

Given half a chance, I will talk to my pals about Scrivs all night long over a few pints. Well, not quite all night long, but you know what I mean. If I went to a pet shop to buy a squeaky toy, then I'd have one I could show off and be proud of, so I'll have one of those squeaky Kevin Scrivens, please.

I need a dog first though.

Believe it or not, I wasn't in the Robin Hood pub back in 1898 when the town's squires put quill to paper to seal the formation of Sutton United, so it's difficult to say who the best ever Sutton goalkeeper has been. Popular opinion says that Dave Collyer and Ron Fearon were the best.

Well, I am going to say this; I think we are lucky enough to be watching the best ever Sutton goalkeeper right now. If he isn't the best then I don't know what he has to do to become the number one Number One of all time. Score a goal perhaps?

Scrivs is my squeaky toy and I am showing him off to you all right now.

The Sutton custodian made a wonder save at Leatherhead last Tuesday night at a crucial stage of the match.

The Amber and Chocolates had forged into a 3-2 extra-time lead when a 30-yard shot from Greg Andrews arrowed towards the top corner of the Sutton net when, just as I was about to shout the F-word, Scriven tipped it over the crossbar.

With both sides flippin' knackered from a bruising encounter, it was a match-winning save and spared us all from a dreaded penalty shoot-out.

Leatherhead fans might argue that Scriven was lucky to stay on the field having pulled down Kev Terry to give the Tanners a 37th-minute penalty. But, thank crikey the referee only brandished a yellow card in the Sutton keeper's direction.

The Amber and Chocolates had taken a second minute lead when Craig Watkins headed the ball home but the Leatherhead penalty, which was converted, set the nerves jangling once again as the sides went in all square at half-time.

To take my mind off the Cup clash during the interval I decided to play a game of stick cricket on my iPhone. However, when my team of World All-Stars, which included Sunil Gavaskar, Ian Botham, Adam Gilchrist, Brian Lara and Abdul Qadir, were bowled out for a miserly 49 against minnows Kenya, I wondered if this was a sign of things to come.

I almost had a panic attack actually. Perhaps my palm-top game of cricket held the key to the rest of this tense FA Cup tie, and perhaps my team's inept performance meant that the Amber and Chocolates would come a cropper at Fetcham Grove.

Just as I became riddled with fear and self-loathing the greens of Leatherhead took to the field for the start of the second half. Kenya's stick cricketers played in green too. The omens didn't look good.

In the 77th minute Leatherhead shotstopper Chico Ramos got a hand to a shot from Craig Watkins and the ball trickled towards the goalline. As I held my breath and Ramos leapt toward the ball, the Sutton fans behind the goal just about managed to suck the ball over the line and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

However, Leatherhead still had more left in the tank...

Moments after a Leroy Griffiths shot went out for a throw-in - YES, A FLIPPIN' THROW-IN - Leatherhead broke forward for one desperate push and, in the 92nd minute, they levelled through Tommy Hutchings. I had no choice but to shout out the F-word in despair.

When Glenn McGrath hit his own wicket to condemn the World All-Stars to that humiliating defeat to Kenya on my iPhone, I had a feeling the drama from the pixellated cricket square would translate itself to the lush turf of the Fetcham Grove pitch, and so it turned out, my worst fears were actually happening. I was a broken man inside.


Quack quack: Glenn McGrath hides his face in shame having hit his own wicket for 0 condemning my World All-Stars stick cricket team to an embarrassing defeat against Kenya at half-time during the Leatherhead v Sutton FA Cup tie. Don't pay attention to the scoreboard, it's not Waugh, it's McGrath I tell you!


Thankfully, Fola Orilonishe put the disappointment of having his name abysmally read out by the matchday announcer behind him to put Sutton ahead before Super Scrivs made that super save to ensure Sutton's progression to the First Round of the Cup for the third time in four years.

It was hardly surprising that Paul Doswell gave the boys Thursday night off after such a tough encounter with the Tanners. Craig Dundas, in particular, threw himself around all over the place and probably had the bruises to show for it the following day.

As for me, I was pretty knackered too. The pounding from Kenya at half-time coupled with Leatherhead's never say die attitude made for a gripping, if uncomfortable night.

I wasn't at Staines on Saturday but from what I can gather my little squeaky toy played another blinder and made three stunning saves to help the Amber and Chocolates to a fine 4-1 success. Leroy Griffiths and Fola Orilonishe grabbed the goals for Sutton.

I won't be playing stick cricket at half-time against Kettering. No way. It's not worth the stress. Compared to Sutton They Might Be Giants, well in non-league terms at least, but the Poppies don't need any help from me and my inept cricketing 'All-Stars'.

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