After waiting in the queue for twenty minutes, whilst an Irish family, or more to the point, woman, confused the booking clerk at West Drayton station, I topped my Oyster card up and got the train into Paddington. Great Western Railway had invested in new rolling stock. Very shiny, no unidentifiable stains, no debris squashed down the side of the seats. That brand new furniture smell. You’d think the seats would be nice and comfy. You’d be wrong. They were like sitting on a park bench. They were that hard that sitting on the floor, seemed a viable alternative. I worked out a quick pub list and route to the ground. From the overground, I hit the underground, catching the Bakerloo line down to Oxford Circus. I don’t know whether it was the fact that the bloke was wearing shorts that disturbed my thought process or the fact he had Hearts tattoos all over his legs and I was sure that I’d seen him after a Hearts game last season or that he was wearing a pair of trainers that I also have in my guilty collection, I don’t know, but I’m definitely using that as an excuse for taking a wrong turn and getting ever so slightly lost. Once I’d worked out I was going the wrong way, I back tracked and went the right way to where I wanted to go.
This place is taking liberties.
The Clachan (Gaelic for hamlet) is a Nicholson’s pub. It’s what you come to expect from the chain. A pub lovingly looked after. Unlike The Falcon at Clapham Junction, the beer was looked after here.
I got back on the Bakerloo to Waterloo but not a loo in sight. How come there’s no toilets on the Underground? Not one single station, on any line has toilets. Did someone make it a policy when they came up with the concept all those years ago? It’s always seemed a strange thing. I do love the confusion that it creates in first time users of the system though. The disbelief after discovery is priceless to see and then the panic as desperation kicks in. I got the Overground from Waterloo to Clapham Junction and hot footed it to The Four Thieves. Both me and Steve were impressed with this place when we did it before the Fulham game and it was too good an opportunity to miss to do it again, although Steve wants to do it again before the Brentford game. Something I have no problems with at all. This place is quality. The beer is first class and you could spend all day in there just looking at the different things in there.
I go years without seeing any examples of taxidermy, and then I see two within three months.
After the terrible state the beer and service was in the last time I went in The Falcon and the fact it was only a few weeks previous, I gave the place a wide berth. On Darrell’s recommendation, I went to The Junction. Green King owned. A place, a little down at the heel. Handily placed, football on the telly. Even had a quirky old skool skinhead girl behind the bar. However, the beer was kept way too cold. I caught the Overground to Norbiton.
I wonder how many people have lived in this style of flats over the years. Synonymous with London.
My teeth were still suffering when I got off and followed the crowd heading for the game. Thought about having a bovril just to warm my them back up once I’d bought a programme, a fanzine, found a cash gate to get in and got in, I didn’t need to.
I know they’re sharing with a non league club but the fabled Plough Lane, wasn’t all that better. I remember that it had a middle class feel to it. The Wimbledon of the here and now, has an anarchist feel to it. I like it. I was in the Chemflow End. The name made me think of Carling. So was I really in the Carling stand or the Carling fall over? The teams came out and went through the usual motions before kick off was called. I dislike mascots at the best of times, this one was dressed up as Tomsk (Look him up, if you can’t remember or don’t know). I loved Tomsk when I watched the Wombles as a kid. This imposter, was incessantly irritating. Along the front of the stand down the one side of the pitch were wheelie bins. He used the lids to make noise. I could have easily stuffed him inside one and then hooked it on the back of a refuse lorry and pressed the button, making him disappear inside. The two sides had a similar chance each, both missed, both should have been put away. Wimbledon scored from a classic cross, knock down in to space, run in finish. Liam Trotter. 1:0 Cushty. I noticed I didn’t seem to be the only ground hopper. There was a couple of Germans in front of me. They were a similar age to me. I guessed that they must have watched the 88 final victory and this was a tick off for them. Especially when they started taking photos. I mean who takes photos during a game?
Ok. Who stuck this here???
Wimbledon were well worth their halftime lead. Second half and Tomsk doesn’t make an appearance. I breathe a huge sigh of relief. Wombleling free. The Dons (No, not the the plastic Milton Keynes ones) get a early corner and then force a free-kick from it. The Southend keeper fumbled the header from the cross and Tom Soares bundled it in. 2:0 Southend were flat. Wimbledon got into a couple of good positions where with a little bit more composure and a good pass, they could’ve and probably should’ve, scored more. Nile Ranger came on to a chorus of Boos. Obviously, a well liked personality everywhere he goes. Michael Kightley was one of those that made way in the double substitution. I hadn’t even realised he was playing, such was his contribution. If the Southend team were flat, then their fans were even worse. It was announced that there were six hundred plus in the attendance. It had took me most of the first half to work out where that actually were. No Police, no flags and no noise. It was more process of elimination. There was a pocket of them that gave it a little gallows humour about five minutes from the end. Pretty bad seeing that there was six hundred of them though. Long before the fourth official had put up the board showing the added minutes my toes were way passed cold. a young lad to my left was just in a small thin Fred Perry rain jacket, was physically shivering. I actually heard his bones clanking together before I saw him. Years ago, I probably would’ve been the same. Certainly not these days though. The older I get, the more I hate the cold. It won’t be long before I’ll be going to games in August dressed like the Michelin man. Game over. 2:0
I certainly didn’t hang around after. I made the train back up to Waterloo and then switched to the tube. I wondered if the lad in the Fred Perry had stopped shaking. At one station, a whole family of Italians got on. I have no idea what they were on about but they were definitely taking the Mickey out of each other like my family does when it gets together. Italian is an expressive language. Everything is exaggerated hand gestures. Watching the interaction made me smile even without knowing what they were talking about. So another ground ticked off though once Wimbledon move into their new ground on the old Wimbledon greyhound track on Plough Lane, I’ll be doing it again.