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Court marshall

Today, we were all witnesses to a sporting tussle of magnitude. A battle of wits, hearts, souls and vocal chords. A contest where even concentration slipping by 0.01% presents a foreboding that may be unrecoverable. Pain, anguish, joy, heartache, passion and fortitude all served up in healthy doses, and quite a few unhealthy ones as well. In short, what makes sporting events great. Yes, I am talking about whether Paula Radcliffe will have a dump on the track, just like she did in the London marathon*

* – she didn’t, although her performance was reminiscent of a freshly laid cable.

Football? Oh, that. Well, if Officers Mess 1 Army Barracks 1 was anything to go by, I think we’ll do all right this season. Basically, they showed that they were a Conference side and we, well, weren’t. Then again, I seem to remember last season doing all right against Gravesend and Northfleet. And we all know how last season ended up, don’t we?

The game, if I must. We started off brightly enough, but sadly so did they. They went ahead from what looked like a deflection. We came back, but they got a penalty. Which Andy Little saved. Which spurred us on to the point that we had a 1-on-1 with the goalie. Sadly, whoever it was (RB?) forgot to lift the ball over the keeper.

Second half, we looked a bit stronger, and indeed we got a penalty. It was dutifully put away by Richard Butler, though it did seem to hit the goalie and come off the bar/roof of the net. And really, with a bit more sharpness in front of goal, we may even have been crowing about a creditworthy win…..

Got through all that? Good.

Plus points: We didn’t lose. Looking like we can pass well enough. Generally look solid. Became stronger as the game went on.

Minus points: Still seem to lack a bit of fitness/sharpness. Shooting a bit shit.

The referee’s a……….: Conference level, as is necessary when you play a Conf club. Suppose he was OK, though he did break the PSF protocol of booking players.

Them: I covered Aldershot v Exeter last year, and they didn’t quite have that extra 5% that is the difference between being a league side and a Conf side. Bit like today really, they had the potential to destroy us but didn’t. AT are the club who I think we aim to emulate : their history is pretty similar to ours, certainly, and if you go down to their place, there’s a deffo feel of a resurrected club. Incidentally, while I didn’t hear it, their #10 who got subbed after being booked was apparently told in no uncertain terms that any more behaviour like that and he wouldn’t play for them again…

Song sung blue: Before the away fans were getting a little bit wearysome for my misanthropic liking, there were some right classic songs being exchanged. When the female physio was seen, it was a case of “We want your physio”, or, perhaps more tellingly, “We’ve had your physio”. Obviously, she has a fine magic sponge. They were pretty dismissive of Carlisle – “we hope you drown again” and claimed that we wouldn’t make the Conference. Or was it the station?

There was also this classic exchange, that can only be reproduced in full to gain maximum enjoyment :

AT: No-one likes us, we don’t care
AFC: We all like you over here
AT: Will you come to Aldershot?
AFC: Where the fuck is Aldershot?
*cue murmurings*
AFC: You’re just a barracks in Hampshire

Sort of went downhill a bit after that, and I did see two coppers standing between the two sets of fans in the second half..

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Who was the “nasty Womble” as heard in the first half on the WB? You know, the one who looked like Jimmy Pursey and sounded like Jimmy White. (2) Speaking of music, did somebody hijack Phillo’s playlist at HT? Some pretty decent sounding stuff, including what sounded like a live version of Everstrong’s tune. Shame really they weren’t around 10 years ago, they would have been pretty big by now. (3) Good to see the Mayor of Merton get a warm reception (snigger). While we should resist the temptation to tell Merton to stick it – we’re not a Kingston side, no matter how hard we collectively try and convince ourselves otherwise – it’s gladdening to see that memories are still very long.

Anything else? Another world famous venue airbrushed under the steamrollership of modern football : the closure of the hAE to put a roof on. It’s “progress” we’re told. Sadly, the end that was always 10 degrees colder than everywhere else, 50% wetter than anywhere else and with a view 100 times better is now having the hardcore ripped out of it. The slipperly slope has been well and truly slid upon : expect corporate boxes to replace the John Smiths stand, the West Bank to become all seater, kick off times changed to suit audiences in Taiwan, professional stewards, and the club to abandon its roots and traditions and become a PLC (oh wait….)

So, was it worth it? Yeah, it was all right. Hopefully by about 2009 this pairing will be a league game on Sky.

In a nutshell: £11 to get in at Crawley?