In a post earlier this season, I seem to recall saying how delighted I am when a plan comes together. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. Take today, Monday November 14th, and a trip to Central London for an all-day Business Conference followed by an Awards ceremony, the latter scheduled to finish at 7.30pm.
As you do, I’d already checked the fixtures list to see if anything was achievable if – and it’s a big IF – said ceremony happened to finish a tad earlier. The fixture in question is at Beaconsfield SYCOB, virtually on Junction 2 of the M40 a little outside of the M25 ring. I reckon if I can park at Hillingdon Tube station, it must only be a 15-minute frantic dash between there and the ground. BUT that’s assuming I can get out of London during the late evening rush in good time. I estimate at least an hour’s tube traveling time between St Paul’s – close to the Awards ceremony venue – and Hillingdon. Anyway, with the event scheduled to finish at 7.30, and kick-off being 7.45, things don’t look that promising.
The first hiccup arrives early in the day. Despite setting out at 5.45am, the inevitable log-jam in the roadworks north of Luton puts me a half-hour behind schedule, and with nagging doubts about the size of the car park at Hillingdon, I decide to play safe and dive in at Stanmore. Even so, it takes me another hour to get into the City. I calculate backwards and I reckon that, if I leave the ceremony at 6.00pm, I could just about make kick-off. Despite an interesting day listening to major pub groups explaining to microbrewers how they’ve run out of gullible would-be licensees to fleece, and are now prepared to relax the tie to keep their failing pubs open, the burning question is always at the back of my mind – can I get away for 6.00?
A sumptuous buffet comes and goes, I get to drink a pint of Kozel lager mainly because it’s free (as you’d guess, it tastes just like every other premium lager) and listen to some interesting stuff about pub marketing – including an enterprising award-winning landlord who does not advertise, but puts his entire promotional budget into employing someone on £16k a year to use social media to successfully publicise his pub business – before another setback. We’re over-running and the Awards won’t now start until 5.00. I’m doomed!
A chink of light, we’re flying through the presentations, and at 6.00pm precisely, the MC says that’s it. I’m out of the door quicker than you can say ‘See You Next Year….’. The challenge now is to tube it back to Stanmore by no later than 7.00. I overshoot by 2 minutes, but I have a fast car and the lower reaches of the M1 are clear, as surprisingly is the M25 and then the M40. I can see the lights of Holloway’s Park and after a dodgy u-turn on the A-something-or-other, I’m in the car park, which is full. Back on the slip road, I join a possee of vehicles jockeying for parking position.
Having made kick-off with 5 minutes to spare, my target now is to get a programme. In a post last season – Bootle I think – I said that I was no longer obsessed with getting a prog from each new ground. I lied. I have to get a prog. I look through the turnstile and I see a man with a curious display board rammed with today’s bible. What joy! And so, despite the initial prognosis, my plan has come to fruition, and my mission is complete.
The game? Oh yes, I’m here to see a match of course, a mid-table Southern Central encounter with visiting Chertsey Town. The ground features a smart covered terrace behind one goal, and a covered stand straddling the halfway line, with uncovered raised step terracing either side of it. The clubhouse is tucked away behind the covered terracing, but has nothing for the discerning beer drinker. Likewise the veggie option is restricted to a chip butty from the snack bar. As I’ve not eaten since lunch, I decide to buy my £1.50’s worth.
Despite a heavy pitch and a misty night, it’s a cracking game of football, and not just because I get to see six goals. Both sides are prepared to go at each other, but the home team’s pacey forwards always give them the edge. They’re three up by half time, and although Chertsey pull one back early in the second half, a fourth for SYCOB on 70 clinches it. Town’s late second is merely a consolation.
A couple of hours later I’m back at home and the wife enquires as to my evening at the Awards ceremony. Hey guess what, I say, it finished early and I stumbled across a game on the way home. A complete surprise, it had never crossed my mind all day. Honest!
Programme: £2 just inside the turnstile. Nice and shiny but with predictable content, although the Beaconsfield player profiles are reasonably thorough.
Floodlight pylons: 6
Parakeets: all in bed….
Toilets: in a block to the side of the covered terracing. Also in the clubhouse
Club shop: Nothing evident
Music the players run out to: That song about fast food, the ones that goes ‘Macdonalds, MacDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut’. Don’t ask me why. The players didn’t look especially porky…
Kop Choir: Not really
Away Support: quite a gaggle of mature Chertsey fans giving the ref plenty of grief. For some reason – and they had the whole ground to choose from – they positioned themselves close to the goal they were defending, resulting in a delayed celebration when they scored in the mist about 80 yards away.
What’s In a Name? Presumably the sky’s the limit for SYCOB’s Ryan Upward and I expect that Moses Spencer has quite a following amongst the Town fans, although I wouldn’t necessarily want to hear what they sing about Beaconsfield’s Dayo Oshitola – it must rhyme with something…