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Sword Fished

[SW19: Following the eventual ridding of hangovers, a much promised report by Chalfont Don on the annual Nog Sword trip by a group of Wombles is now up. This is heavy reading. I would like to assure you that no yaks were harmed in the writing of this report]

An array of hung-over Dons fans gradually met in the Wetherspoons’ pub in Stanstead airport on Friday lunchtime and started the long weekend of drinking with a truly practiced air. Stopping only to pick up several litres of vodka at the duty free shop (The Pope was worried about the Norwegian prices), the early drinking was enlivened by the running reports from Secret Agent over his mobile of the very late running of his lift from the Greenblat clan to the airport. Things went suitably pear-shaped as we were preparing to board the flight and the call came through that they were being refused permission to check-in – so plan B was quickly applied and they rebooked to fly to Torp (“no idea where in Norway it is, but it’s not that big a country is it?” asks a somewhat stressed Secret Agent). Meanwhile, we got onto the right flight and headed off to Haugesund en route to Stavanger.

On arrival in Nogland, we were met at the airport by a coach organised by HP and quickly drove down the coast towards Stavanger. The views of the countryside were impressive as we wound down and across fjords until we reached the main ferry port. A 20 minute trip across the sound took us to the northern outskirts of Stavanger, and we quickly reached town. Things started to look a little dicey at this point when it turned out that the driver didn’t know where the hotel was, but fortunately we stopped at a traffic light opposite a pub and there, larger than life, was HP getting in some early beers in the afternoon sunshine and he soon guided us to our home from home.

We quickly dumped our stuff and returned to the Sports Bar to meet HP and the early arrivals who had flown via Heathrow to find we had now swelled our numbers to around 17. Missing were the WUP hardcore (Moley, Lemon Pete and Midland’s Finest) who were driving down from Bergen, picking up 1486 just out of town on their way. Things got a bit worrying when 1486 called to ask why the WUP crew still hadn’t turned up having taken over 90 minutes to drive the five miles out of town to pick him up, but then we found that they had accidentally headed North not South and were halfway to the Artic Circle. One of the NorseDons who lived in Bergen (Jonny) then talked them around in true Airplane style, and eventually they got to 1486 and made it to Stavanger with plenty of drinking time to go. Serious drinking then ensued as it seemed the boys were determined to create a proper excuse just in case the next morning’s game was to be lost – the flow of beer, cider (way too sweet for me, but at least they made the effort) and lemonade (well, Pope did put half a pint of Vodka into ever one he bought) was only interrupted by trips to Burger King for the famous £9 Whopper Meal.

The following morning we straggled down for breakfast after a special HP style wake-up call (“Get up you lazy c*** we’ve a match to play” was my own personalized greeting), where we met Secret Agent and the Greenblatts who had travelled from Torp via bus and overnight train to make it to Stavanger an impressive 16 hours late. The party now complete, we then parted with 50 NOK to the bus driver to take us out to the match. This was the first in a seemingly never-ending series of bus trips and other goods and activities that all seemed to cost 50 NOK; obviously the lowest useful denomination of currency over there. En route to the game we stopped off for a brief King Arthur moment to study 3 chuffing huge swords that were sticking out of the rock on the edge of a fjord; an impressive sight but “Why?” was asked by many …

On arrival at the ground we found that HP had managed to recruit several hundred cheerleaders for the NorseDons team – either that or they were having a gymnastics event on the pitch next door … Anyway, in the interests of “objectivity”, I commissioned Secret Agent to put together the traditional SW19’s Army match report of the game, so here goes the with the gory details:

So, a bright, sunny and warm day in Stavanger saw the second Battle of the Sword (shamelessly sponsored by HP Bakke). The scene was set for a repeat of the first battle which saw the Norse Dons prevail in a tight game against the Dons Trust in cold and smoggy London town by a 4-3 scoreline.

True to the stories of the past, a mere 23 drunkards from SW London (and elsewhere) had bothered to make the trek to the land of fjords and those lovely BRG and KIR people. Fortunately, it was clear from one night’s drinking prior to the match, that those two Norwegians were anything but typical of their fellow country(wo)men. Perhaps that was a good thing!

The pitch was grassy (nice), the goals were on wheels (interesting) and the WUP kit was looking sharp (despite some of the shapes inside the shirts!). All was set for a fierce battle. As the teams lined up for the obligatory team pics before the start and the captains shook hands before the toss, it appeared to be an ideal atmosphere for the beautiful game. There was no indication of what was to come……

So, onto the teams.The WUP team lined up in the following shirts. The numbers bear little relation to the positions played as the team was to keep its shape about as well as a £1 t shirt from Matalan:

1. Matt (Chalfont Don) Breach

2. Ross (Orienteering) McClagan

3. Graham (Big Knees) Timms

4. Paul (Flairman) Farrance

5. Terry (Chelsea fan) Beacon

6. Perry (Animal) Greenblatt

7. Steve (Me medicine) Woolnough

8. Dean (TinTin) Parsons

9. Adam (Always Late) Greenblatt

10. Russ (No Glasses) Ainslie

11. Joe (No relation to Tony) Blair

12. Pete (The Enforcer) Davis

14. Peter (Moleking) MacQueen

15. Rob (Midlands Finest) Aitkenhead

16. Gav (Moe the Barman) Ainslie

The Norse Dons, shorn of the quality contingent of English stars from the inaugural match in London, lined up with a pretty unrecognisable side, which included HP at number 9 (wank, wank, wank!), a couple of recently retired Nog Premier league players and a former Spudz and Norway international keeper called Erik Thorsvedt!! On seeing Erik in goal, the WUP team sensed a chance, after all, he had let in five against the mighty Dons before……..

Us Them

Anyway, the game started and the WUP fans (well, I can’t think of another name for those left) tried to cheer their team to victory. After 3 minutes the writing was on the wall as a deep cross found HP with a free header and Chalfont trying frantically to adjust his specs! HP famously (although not as famously as Ronnie Rosenthal) missed from a yard and prompted the now infamous “Number, number, number 9, number 9, number 9, ehhh!!! wank wank wank wank wank wank, wank wank wank, wank wank wank … oh you get the gist!). It was a sign of things to come as the first goal for the NDs came after five minutes. The second arrived via a deflected shot that left the keeper grasping at air (something that the outfield players were struggling to get into their lungs at this early stage!). More goals followed to leave a halftime score of 4-0 to the Nog lads. During the first 45 minutes, the best effort for the WUP was a four pass move started after Ross McClagan dummied two players in his own box.

AFCW reserves let themselves go a bit

Erik Thorsvedt, was subbed at half time for doing nothing. It would be fair to assume that Erik’s granny could have played in goal without affecting the scoreline, so few chances did the WUP boys create. The second half was more of the same. The NDs scored exactly the same number of goals as they had in the first half and the WUP boys managed to do the same, despite the replacement keeper leaving the field of play for fully two minutes to take a piss in the not so nearby changing facilities! All in all, it was really men against boys, but the spirit of the game was there for all to see (most of the WUP players had been drinking it the previous night!).

Anyway, on with the show:

Plus Points: It was a lovely day; we got to remind Erik Thorsvedt of the five goals he conceded (not really in a Phoenix from the Flames way, but I think he would have done it if we’d had a camcorder!); the Nogs were all top blokes!

Minus Points: nobody putting any pressure on Erik. Would have been great to come home and brag about scoring against an international keeper, eh? Other than that, nothing at all.

The referee’s a ……….. : Nice guy (and Torquay fan). Not FIFA approved, but refereed with a sense of occasion and didn’t send Chalfont off when it was a clear red card 😉 [Article writer’s note: couldn’t have been deliberate as I never saw the ball !!!]

Them: Skillful and a darn sight fitter than the WUP XI. Tales of ringers abound, but HP assured us all that they were registered, despite some of them not being Norse Dons. The CCL committee will be investigating.

Food and Drink: All back to HP’s gaff afterwards for copious beer and burgers/sausages on the barbie. Quality nosh, cold beer and a lovely location – even if it did get chilly around 3.30pm.

Song sung Blue: as above, only one contender. Stand up HP in the number 9 shirt!! The English “hoolie” contingent was in good voice …

"So, where's this Norwegian death metal?"

Point to ponder: why did HP need an international keeper? In fact, why did he need a keeper at all …

Truth is stranger than fiction: Graham Timms has the most skillful knees of any centre back I have ever seen. Saving more shots with his knees than Chalfont did with his hands. MOTM performance for the WUP goes to Timmsy’s knees!

So, was it worth it? Definitely, most of the lads and ladies would willingly go back for more of the same. HP was a brilliant host and everyone had a great time. Let’s get more going over next year.

Raynes Park Vile trials begin

Umm, I think Secret Agent was a little harsh on me there as even Erik The Viking was impressed with one of my saves (“how the f*** did he stop that?” was his comment), but I have to admit that 8-0 flattered us. Anyway, we put the thrashing behind us quickly and moved on to HP’s house for the post-match BBQ. I think it is safe to say that HP catered brilliantly for us, with a car full of beer and a selection of burgers and hot dogs that would put your average butchers to shame. As the afternoon wore on and the beer kicked in, things livened up with a football rematch in the paddock above the garden with the NorseDons represented by HP’s daughter and 3 of her friends – needless to say they won that one too, although The Pope did put in a sterling performance without spilling much of his pint. In true Warren Harvey style we then challenged them to a competition on the trampoline, where we took an early lead thru’ Tin Tin’s efforts and looked to have sewn it up through an impressive display by Timmsy before HP’s daughter took him out with a shoulder charge and jumped up and down on him for a few minutes. We quickly decided that the only event we had a chance in was the drinking, although some of our team did behave like old women even at that …

Pre match drink

Another 50 NOK busride took us back to town at 9pm, where we decided to have a quick drink back at the sports bar until it got dark. Whilst some of us succumbed to the effects of the match or sunburn/sunstroke from the BBQ, the rest of the party managed to prove that it never gets dark and kept going all night. Joe even managed to find a pair of Norwegian women to model the WUP sponsored DTFC kit – obviously they hadn’t heard of our athletic prowess at this point.

The next morning started with a 7am wake up call from HP before he led the battered remnants (at least 5 or 6 “bottled it”) of us on a forced march to the ferry that would take us towards Pulpit Rock. After the ferry a shortish bus ride (50 NOK no less), took us to basecamp before we started on the 2 hour “gentle walk” up the mountain. We quickly found that a gentle walk in Norway is a major hike/scramble in any other country, and the party spread out quickly from the athletic at the front (HP, Ross) to the franly unfit at the back (hello Secret Agent). Despite this, everyone managed to get to the top in not much over 2 hours and tried to recover in front of some of the most spectacular views they had ever seen.

Like Killarney, only colder The AFCW coach took a wrong turn....

The trip down the mountain seemed even longer than the way up, but we all made it back to the tourist shop in time for an ice cream before the (50 NOK) bus ride back to the ferry. Barely having time to catch our breath back at the hotel, we quickly went back down to the bar for a swift half before catching a boat to the Stavanger stadium for the Viking – Bodo/Glimt match. Things were a little lively when a pissed local thought we were from Bodo (apparently our AFC shirts looked like their away kit) and abused us in Norwegian, but an even more pissed HP soon put him straight and we all become best friends very rapidly. It has to be said that a decent boat with a bar is the only way to travel to a game, and we made the most of it.

The tourists were a bit unsure of the tourguide

Once at the ground (a 10 minute walk from the quayside), we were met by one of the leaders of the “Viking Hordes” who passed over our tickets for the area of the ground reserved for the local equivalent of the ultras – a very polite bunch with oversized flags! Not only were we welcomed by the locals, we found that we had a 2 page spread in the programme (written in English by a certain HP, and probably one of the few official programme articles ever to include the word “vomit” twice) and were also welcomed over the PA a couple of minutes before the start. The game started in a good atmosphere in front of 10000 in a ground that would hold about 14000 when full. An early goal by the visitors wasn’t welcome, and despite constant pressure the home team rarely looked threatening until late in the game when a 83 rd minute equaliser was probably deserved. A few more rounds of the local “Vee – King” chant later it ended as a draw, and we wandered our way back to our floating bar for the trip back to town.

Remind you of anywhere? We came all this way, and we, er.....

Anyway, on with the key points:

Plus points: Viking didn’t lose, we were live on Norwegian TV (apparently they did close-ups of the AFC Wimbledon flag, so hopefully KIR and BRG saw it and choked on their caviar) and the atmosphere was friendly and fun.

Minus points: Viking didn’t win and we had to stop drinking for 2 hours.

Them: 25 of them travelled from the other-side of the Artic Circle for the match; never let a Plymouth fan complain about the distances they have to travel again !!

FIA concerned with flags for Stavanger Grand Prix

Song sung so blue: Local favourites include “Vee – King” and a number of others that were lost in the translation, although our hosts seemed impressed with our efforts at them. Our goal kick chant (ooooooooooohhhhhhh – you’re shit, aaahhhhh !!!) sparked a lot of local debate as shit appears to translate directly as “Oh dear” in Norwegian, but I think they got the point. One that I think has now been adopted was the chorus of “how wide do you want the goal” which we debuted the first time a Bodo player spannered it past the post – by the second and third renditions most of the Horde was joining in !

Point to ponder: Do all Norwegian players look identical ? Except for a Brazilian left-back, the Viking team could all have been cloned from the guy who rang rings around us the day before …

Truth is stranger than fiction: The stewards handing out big flags for the fans to wave during the game, and then getting huge ones of their own to wave in front of the stand. You could tell it wasn’t England as all the flags were haded back in at the end …

So, was it worth it?: Next year we need to go to a VEE-KING away game and really show them how it is done !

Anyway, we headed back to the sports bar which was thronged with returning fans, and happily drank the night away. A highlight was one Nog standing on a table to lead the singing getting twatted by one of the ceiling fans. He was dragged off bleeding from a nasty looking gash, but then returned 2 minutes later with a bandaged bonce to resume his singing with a fresh pint.

Monday morning dawned and I made a quick tour of the town to see the sights, including finding a petrol station which REPD was desperate for a photo of.

What Norway is REALLY about

Halfway around town I met most of the others being led by HP in search of the Viking Stavanger shop and suitable souvenirs, and 30 minutes later I met them again still looking !! Fortunately it was just around the corner, so several Viking tops are likely to make an appearance at KM next year. We then took the coach back to Haugesund and chilled out in a rather surreal jazz-themed café whilst waiting for our flight – the life-sized model of Tudor playing a clarinet hanging from the ceiling was one of the more obscure things that I have ever seen in an airport. We made it back to Stanstead, with Secret Agent and the Greenblatts this time, and the first AFC Wimbledon overseas football tour was over – although I think we are all looking forward to the 4 th Battle of the Sword and our next visit to Norway!!