Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Bishop's Stortford 1 Boston United 0

I don’t want to get anybody into trouble over this one, so I’d just like to thank my legendary but nameless editor for letting me miss an afternoon of work for this fixture. This is a man who clearly understands what it is to be a dedicated football fan, however tinpot my team and how madcap my support must appear in his eyes. 

And so, dressed in my best work suit, pressed white shirt, tie and exceedingly smart and exceedingly inappropriate shoes, I found myself embarking on a bezerk 90 minute dash from Kensington in West London to the well known “northern” town of Bishop’s Stortford in, erm, Hertfordshire. 

I say “northern” with the inverted commas because this was, after all, a Conference North fixture being played quite clearly in a southern town. It may have been a Bank Holiday, but there was still a steady flow of planes taking off from the adjacent London Stansted airport, which is by anyone’s estimation a southern airport, and the place is barely north of Watford on the traditional geographical yardstick. 

In fact, we were so close to the border with Essex that I was wary of being savagely mauled by the famous, but ultimately non-existent, Essex Lion which was on the front of my copy of the Daily Mail that day. It was a delightful Bank Holiday prank which set Twitter alight as basically a chance to take the piss out of TOWIE and the orange-tinged county as a whole. 

It did however, make for some brilliant newspaper copy, including witness Rob Hull, barman at the Tudor Bar Social Club in St Osyth near Clacton, who described the mythical beast as “ambling laconically along by the lake in the field, like it didn’t have a care in the world” - thus becoming the first man in recorded history to describe anything as “ambling laconically.”

Che Kevlin, 40, who lived near the scene of the apparent “drama” (whatever that may entail) said: “I was sitting with my wife in the front room playing backgammon at around 10pm when I heard a very loud roar.” Thus becoming the first person in the recorded history of Essex to claim to have been playing backgammon. I don’t know about you, but I simply can’t wait for the next series of TOWIE when the cast all sit around playing backgammon. 

Anyway I digress. To return to a Boston United topic, I heard that Paul Gascoigne was heading down to Essex with a four-pack of Stella, a fishing rod and some fried wildebeest... 

Unsurprisingly, I had to explain to numerous regulars why I was wearing a suit. Presumably they either thought I’d been fast-tracked on to the board of directors or I’d cracked under the pressure of living and working in “that there London” and should be carried home to the Shire lying on some hay bales behind Farmer Giles’s tractor. 

Anyway, to the game and the performance which was, in the words of one, “fucking garbage”. And lest the entire squad didn’t hear his outspoken verdict the first time, he waited until they came a little closer and then shouted it again - “fucking garbage.” 

I couldn’t really take issue with him. After two opening games, two wins and seven unanswered goals, United’s season seems to have dropped off like a gull flying out to sea to die. If Saturday’s home loss to perennial cannon fodder Hinckley wasn’t bad enough - and eerily similar to the 2-1 home defeat to Vauxhall Motors on the same weekend last year - this was a whole new low. 

United tried to play nice football and there were great and admirable signs that the team wants to stroke the ball around, build patiently and play an attractive, flowing game. Unfortunately, after all this, we didn’t muster a single shot on target. 

The home goalkeeper Luke Chambers, who was the target of much abuse from the travelling support because he had a Justin Bieber fringe (and fashions in southern Lincolnshire are arguably stuck in 1977), might have spent his Bank Holiday Monday watching all the James Bond films back-to-back he was so redundant (mandatory Partridge reference there).    

Afolabi Obafemi scored the decisive goal after nine minutes and thereafter Bishop’s Stortford stifled Boston with some pretty soporific football. Their centre-half pairing were ruthlessly efficient in getting the ball clear and nobody took any nonsense, leading to some wild clearances and meaty challenges. 

Boston simply could not break them down, the only real chance arriving from a corner. Marc Newsham, who seems to have been downgraded from “on fire” to “tepid”, peeled away to the near post and was unmarked, only to allow the inswinging ball to smack him right in the face. 

The away following of a hundred or more had very little to sing about and so didn’t really bother. There was certainly no repeat of the mental on-the-pitch celebrations of Newsham’s 97th minute winner last season. What’s more, I came suited and booted and didn’t get as much as a fucking prawn sandwich...

Next Match: London-based game this Saturday