Friday, 11 November 2011

Sutton United Blog: Kettering Town, Noel Edmonds and Gollum

Picture the scene. I’m sat in the hot seat in the middle of the Deal or No Deal studio for my chance to win some life-changing money in an FA Cup special edition of the show hosted by the ever-popular Noel Edmonds.

My game is at an advanced stage and unfortunately I’ve seen some of the big money go already in the form of Charlton Athletic, Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United. However, there’s still some decent money left on the board in Plymouth Argyle, Leyton Orient and Wimbledon as well as some smaller sums such as AFC Totton, Bradford Park Avenue and Arlesey Town.

I am sat there sweating like a kipper, mainly because Edmonds’ colourful flowery shirt is about to trigger a migraine, when my game reaches its crux.
‘Noel,’ I say, ‘I am ready for the question.’
Edmonds looks me in the eye, pauses, and then says: ‘Amber Rambler, Kettering Town at home, deal or no deal?’
I reply: ‘That’s a very kind offer Mr Banker. I have to respect it. Deal.’
Then, at that point, the crowd go wild and I let out a whoop of delight.
Personally, I always thought Noel was better in Multi-Coloured Swap Shop. If I am honest, I only mentioned that so I can pop this video in...

...I defy any of you to watch that without jigging around in your seat...
Any rate, all that was my round about way of saying that I was happy with the draw for the First Round of the FA Cup. We're at home against a team from a higher division and that'll do for me.
So, Kettering come to town tomorrow for an intriguing Cup clash which pits a club on the up versus a club in transition.

Sutton are obviously going well in the Blue Square South this season while Kettering, who have a new manager in Mark Stimson and a new ground in Nene Park, are not doing so well in the Blue Square Premier.
I have a mixed bag of memories from bygone battles with the Poppies, most notably our 8-0 victory from 1986, our 4-1 triumph at Rockingham Road in 1987 and a 4-2 defeat which, I think, condemned us to relegation in 1991.
From what I can recall, our 8-0 success prompted then Poppies boss, former Nottingham Forest defender Dave Needham, to resign. Not long after that crushing victory the Amber and Chocolates battered Bath 7-2 at Gander Green Lane as they adjusted well to life in the newly-named GM Vauxhall Conference.
The 4-1 win at Rockingham Road came towards the end of the 1986/87 season and I just about managed to drag myself away from the treasure trove that was the Kettering club shop to witness Francis Awaritefe setting off on a run from the halfway line, fending off four or five challenges before firing the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net.
The goal sparked wild celebrations amongst the Sutton supporters and generous applause from the Kettering faithful.
Four years later Sutton’s trip to Rockingham Road wasn’t so fruitful.

Under the stubborn leadership of Keith Blunt, I think I'm right in saying Sutton were clinging onto their Conference existence by a thread and needed a win from their clash with Kettering.
I didn’t go to the game but I did watch it live on television with a small group of pals at the Morden Tavern in, er, Morden.
A small cable channel called SportsCast were covering Conference games that season, and on this occasion it was Sutton’s chance to shine in front of the TV cameras.
Except they didn’t. The Amber and Chocolates were stuffed 5-2 and relegation was accepted.
Both sides will see tomorrow's game as a chance to progress further in the competition, so let battle commence.

Whether Sutton win or lose this tie I look forward to renewing aquaintances with Ketting in the top flight of non-league football next season.
Before I go, there’s an issue surrounding this game, and any other Sutton home game come to think of it, which requires me to adopt a no-nonsense approach. So, here goes…

If you happen to be a Kettering fan or a neutral making your way to the big FA Cup clash at Sutton this Saturday and are thinking of having a pre-match beer in The Plough, opposite Sutton’s ground, then don’t.
It may be a watering hole, there’s no escaping that, but it’s a hole of another kind too, one that rhymes with pit.
However, if you want to stand should-to-shoulder with punters who’ll make you feel like you’ve stumbled into a meeting of the Phil and Grant Mitchell Appreciation Society, then by all means go for it.
Failing that, you could always get chatting to some broken-toothed little creatures who wouldn’t look out of place at a convention of Gollum look-a-likes.

Unfortunately the boozers near the football ground, with the exception of the Robin Hood, are naffer than naff. If you do go to a local boozer then head to the Hood.

Good Lord: Go boozing with Gollum and friends in Sutton, if you dare.
Your best option for a pint is the clubhouse where you can marvel at pictures of Sutton legend John Rains’ moustache while enjoying the banter with the Sutton faithful. One thing is for sure, the welcome at the clubhouse will be a lot warmer than at some of the pubs.
Like I say, it’s up to you...anyway, must dash, Deal or No Deal is on now...


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