Turning it Around

Sunday 29th October 2017

If you go behind and come back to win the game that is always very satisfying. And it is something we’ve had to get used to over the last 7 days. Turning round games is a good habit of course but taking the lead and keeping it is definitely a better one! Overall though, summarising yesterday, winning the game after being behind at the break is pleasing.

Saturday, 3pm kick-off used to be the norm. In fact for the best part of 10 months of the year if it was that time and that day you would be at the football. Live TV coverage is not a new thing. But the fact it now feels like there are no parameters or restrictions to when and what time you will be playing, situations like yesterday are very much a rarity.

And as a result it was a day to look forward to.

Breaking down a blanket defence is another thing we are very much used to in home games. And patience is often the key. That becomes all the more difficult of course if you concede to a team’s very first venture into our defensive third of the field.

The atmosphere at half time wasn’t totally doom and gloom or certainly not as much as you might expect. Frustration was there of course but also a belief I feel that we were well capable of turning it around.

And Sead and Rambo’s strikes did just that.

So, not the greatest of games or performances….but 3 points and a job well done….in the end.

Red Star Belgrade showed enough out in Serbia for us to be fully aware that any complacency on Thursday night could be punished.

But with 9 points already in the bag it is a great opportunity to make that 12.

Come on you mighty reds!

Frank
@stubbsy70

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Eddie’s Night

Tuesday 24th October 2017

Life is about a number of things. But one of them is definitely making new memories. The league cup contains some of my very favourite down the years…..but also some I would rather forget. For a young striker trying to make his way wearing the cannon on his chest, tonight was a night I’m sure he will remember for the rest of his life.

Win, lose or draw it is a competition where I don’t genuinely get too stressed about the outcome, especially I would say in the Wenger era. But I hate losing. In anything. And so despite in a period where more sleep deprivation is on the cards as a result of extra time, I am travelling home pleased we have progressed to the next round.

League Cup night

The Canaries attended in their thousands, always expected with that away cup tie novelty factor, cheap match tickets, subsidised travel and school half term week all major contributors and for the majority of tonight they thoroughly enjoyed their night in the capital.

In a similar fashion to Sunday up at Goodison we dominated the opening exchanges and succumbed to a counter attack that saw us go behind.

For the remainder of the half and much of the second we huffed and puffed but Norwich coped pretty comfortably, looking dangerous on the counter attack in addition.

The game had a kind of deja vu feeling for me. Going back many many years too. Back in the mid nineties we took on The Canaries in a League Cup tie at Highbury and it was also the time that if the game finished all square it went to a replay. Having booked a week in the far north of Scotland with my girlfriend at the scheduled replay week I longed for a result on the night.

But, despite being favourites things didn’t go well and we headed into the latter stages 1 nil down. Wrighty smashed in a late equaliser at the North Bank end and that replay I feared became reality.

The result was the longest I have ever driven for a game, 2 whole tanks of fuel each way in fact, to attend the match from somewhere that felt nearer to Greenland than London N5. Looking back it was probably the final nail in that relationship’s coffin but, we won 3 nil so it was worth it! After all, plenty more fish and all that!!!

Tonight, although not quite as dramatic, I knew anything other than a result in normal time means getting home about 4am. So I didn’t really want extra time if it could be avoided.

With time running out we were finally putting our visitors under a bit of pressure. And almost with a last throw of the dice, on came Eddie.

And with his first touch he flicked home to keep us in the competition.

Extra time followed and in a penalty area full of giants, his leap to power home the winner was quite something and what looked like an increasingly unlikely victory now looked a big possibility. I thought we played pretty well once we took the lead and were probably at our most comfortable. But even then we had to survive a late penalty scare to get over the line.

So into the 5th round then and a truly memorable night for young Eddie Nketiah. I’m sure you’ll struggle to sleep after that. Give me a ring Ed, I probably won’t be home yet!

See you on Saturday as we take on The Swans.

Frank
@stubbsy70

The Frustrations of Football

Sunday 22nd October 2017

This afternoon’s first half was right up there in various categories. Looking positively we were quite superb all half in creating chances. Our want to win was there in abundance and our passing and movement were magnificent at times. But a combination of desperate defending, good goalkeeping, bad luck and wasteful finishing meant we didn’t have the considerable lead our dominance deserved.

Above all else however, was a feeling of frustration and disbelief, at least until we equalised, that was so intense that many of the travelling Gooners, or at least those who choose to get behind the team, were simply shaking their heads.

Not for the first time Granit got caught in possession and his mistake was punished in the harshest way possible with Rooney’s fine strike. All the possession, looking sharp all over the pitch, creating countless chances yet 1 goal behind with virtually the first time Everton had got anywhere near our box.

From frustration to satisfaction

Nacho’s equaliser coming before the break was crucial I feel and in my opinion there was no doubt if we put in a similar performance in the second period we would go on and win the match.

Scoring 4 more to complete an emphatic victory suggests we not only matched but bettered our first half showing but I’m not sure we did. That’s not me being negative but our hosts definitely played better and we had to dig in a little and bide our time before grabbing that opportunity to take the lead. And man of the match Mesut’s superb header was well worth the wait.

Since leaving Belgrade it has been a bit of a short period of firsts for me. One of my flights aborted it’s landing attempt a few feet from touching down due to the preceding aircraft having not totally left the runway whilst on a more positive note I was able to watch Huddersfield’s win over Man Utd ‘live’ on the screen in front of me before we touched down at Heathrow. And I definitely haven’t heard something so ridiculous as a bit of stormy weather being called Brian. And with the link being the fact we were at Everton today, at least our players managed to escape unscathed from any potential child carrying adults trying to dish out a right hander!!

And today completed that list with our first away league victory of the current season.

A good way to end a good week but looking at how much we would be ‘in the mix’ if we hadn’t blown our lead at Watford is another of those footballing frustration examples.

But we can’t go back and after today looking forward has to be the way. That starts with Norwich on Tuesday in the League Cup.

For now, as I write these thoughts on the southbound M6, getting back from Belgrade late last night before getting up ridiculously early to travel up to Goodison this morning I desperately need a good night’s sleep.

Up The Gunners.

Frank
@stubbsy70

A City of Beauties

Friday 20th October 2017

Many cities have 2 big clubs and the rivalry that goes with it. Belgrade is no different and as a result of Olly’s acrobatic late winner our celebratory few beers were accompanied by not just begrudging offers of congratulations from the Red Star supporters who had been so hospitable all day but lots of smiles from Partizan fans.

Don’t get me wrong the warnings about not doing anything ‘silly’ were heeded, a point emphasized by the odd seat, lighter, coin and bit of concrete that sailed into the away end after we went one up but the advice a cabbie from the airport gave one of our lot was probably the best we received. He said the people of Belgrade will be very welcoming and they will make sure you have a good time…..but……don’t try and be the big man. And we got that totally.

Wednesday’s early start and our relatively trouble free flight had us checking into our two superb apartments in the very heart of Belgrade, right opposite Republic Square. And a decent bar right opposite gave us our first taste of Serbian hospitality since last time we were here in 2010.

Match day began with a Stubbsy walking tour where admittedly I went completely the wrong way. But the fact our host bar/restaurant on the banks of the river Sava within sight of where it meets the Danube was simply magnificent meant I just about redeemed myself!

A fine looking bunch enjoy the sunshine

And it was a fantastic build up, great food, loads of refreshment, top service and great company from my Gooner mates before we headed across the city to Red Star’s iconic and atmospheric stadium.

The taxi dropping us off in a location where we had no option but to walk through the home fans was an experience. Trying ‘not to look English’ is all well and good. But almost impossible. And even harder when Dale Boy looks like a walking advert for Burberry! Funny. Very funny. And the walk was fine and if anything added that ‘edge’ to a game in a competition that perhaps lacks one due to our general apathy at being in a so called weaker European tournament than we’ve been used to for such a long time.

Noise and colour

Noisy and a great experience, the home fans were exactly as expected. But I wouldn’t necessarily call it hostile.

The game was not one to live long in the memory with both teams enjoying a share of the few chances. But with only one English team having ever won here it’s definitely not an easy place to get a result.

But if the game overall failed to impress, the winning goal was a thing of beauty. And it was met with much jubilation by the travelling Gooners.

Being kept in the ground at a European away game is nothing new. Italy tends to be the worst time wise but last night’s 2 hours seemed particularly long given we were told it would be only an hour. But as frustrating as it was the military style operation that got us all back to the city centre was incredible. A copper in full battle armour was located at the side of the road every 50 yards or so for the entire 20 minute journey! It all seemed very ‘over the top’ but we certainly can’t claim to have more expertise about their city than they’ve got.

A few more late night G n Ts in a really cool bar down by the river completed a fine day and a stroll round the city’s historic fort and a few more beers in the sundrenched afternoon pretty much brings me up to date.

If my flight tomorrow manages to avoid Storm Brian I will return home with 3 points and loads of good memories before getting up ridiculously early yet again on Sunday morning for the trip to Everton.

Over land and sea.

Frank
(@stubbsy70)

Explain that

Really really shit.

That was my answer when a lady (with kids and a dog) asked me how my day had been. I probably could have left out the first (or second) really but I’m not sure it would have been entirely accurate without it.

I’m writing these notes on my train from Clapham Junction to Portsmouth Harbour. It’s full of people in pretty good spirits. They’ve all had a pretty good day out it seems. And so have I to be fair. Or at least I did until Mezut fluffed his opportunity to secure the 3 points and within seconds a very soft penalty went from 3 to a maximum of 1.

The lady with the dog thanked me for my honesty (I think). But if she had told me to fuck off I wouldn’t have heard her.

We can all blame Wenger today but if Mezut had buried that chance we all would have looked at the game as spot on.

We weren’t great. But we were very comfortable. And we lost.

Bed for me.

See you in Serbia.

Frank
@stubbsy70

A Fine Weekender

Monday 9th October 2017

Whilst being very aware my blog/diary has always been about my life as an Arsenal supporter I have always been very keen to try and avoid a situation where my thoughts are no more than a match report. Consequently after much deliberation my chosen activity over the latest international weekend definitely deserves some words if for no other reason than it never would have happened if it wasn’t for our great football club.

People join supporters clubs for the same reasons. That sense of belonging. That knowledge that all your fellow members have the same passion as you for exactly the same thing.

As a result friendships and bonds form with all kinds of people from all walks of life and this weekend has demonstrated that perfectly.

More than 12 months ago our club came up with an idea. With international dates known well in advance a plan began to take shape where we would take a large group to the country of fire and ice. And consequently, after a huge amount of hard work and planning, 39 of us gathered at Gatwick Airport on Thursday evening with Iceland our destination for the weekend.

Over the years friendships have developed between Gooners and Arsenal supporters clubs from all over the globe and for us one that has grown ever stronger is with those from the Icelandic branch.

And their help, work and hospitality over the last 3-4 days has been just incredible.

Things began on Friday morning after arriving late Thursday night and getting a good a night’s sleep, when our hosts collected us in 3 buses. Not just any buses. But examples that had been well stocked with ‘refreshments’. The bar was officially open!

Consequently our initial trip to the interesting and hugely informative Lavacentre accompanied by an incredible buffet lunch, the awe inspiring Gulfoss waterfall and mindblowing Geysirs was very much taken on with spirits high.

The power of Gulfoss

A quite excellent first day was finished by watching Iceland’s quite incredible 3-0 World Cup qualifier victory in Turkey in a bar full of locals. Seriously good fun and awesome to watch people’s reactions watching a game that is hugely important to them when we were so relaxed!

Physically only being able to be on one minibus at any one time I cannot be particularly specific about activities on the other 2 buses but with music and great company it was very apparent everyone was having a good time.

Day 2 however, included a situation where one minibus were running out of their favourite tipple and were hatching a plan that was to become known as ‘Gullgate’! The IPA on board wasn’t a favourite of the majority on said bus but after a morning visit to the Icelandic National Park where the first parliament in the whole world sat, our bus was approached in the car park of a local brewery where we were about to enjoy a fine lunch and asked if we fancied doing any ‘beer swaps’. A ‘Gull’ for an ‘IPA’, that kinda thing.

Having explained that although our bus had more people on board who were partial to the IPA, we couldn’t possibly entertain making our bar ‘top heavy’ in one direction.

The brewery served a marvellous few local specialities to accompany our lunch but on returning to our bus there was sabotage in the air! We were very ‘IPA heavy’ all of a sudden. All very suspicious but with a marvellous double bluff we struck a deal to send back just a few in exchange for the ‘Gull’ that we no longer had. Or didn’t we……. 😉

Iceland is volcanic. I’m sure that is something I don’t need to tell you. And it means the landscape of the whole country really is quite something. Not entirely unique on the planet of course, but it certainly feels that way.

Minor earthquakes happen every day and the many volcanic eruptions over the years continue to develop the country’s shape. Located on the faultline where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet it is possible to step from one to another. Quite incredible when you think about it and something we all experienced on Saturday afternoon.

A bridge between continents?

The Blue Lagoon is an incredible experience. A large pool of spring water, naturally heated to a very pleasant 100 degrees Fahrenheit with a swim up bar to boot, it was here we headed next for a quite superb couple of hours. Gooners from 2 countries, joined together by the love for their football club, experiencing one of the world’s great wonders.

A spa with a difference!

After a pretty packed itinerary our wonderful hosts took us to the local town of Grindavik where they laid on a quite fantastic BBQ, a great chance to ponder and discuss our visit and socialise once again. And with just a sample of the capital city’s nightlife and sights on Sunday morning it was a perfect way to finish an inspiring, amusing and truly memorable weekend.

Whilst chilling in the Blue Lagoon it was mentioned “this time next week we’ll be in Watford”. To be honest that couldn’t have felt any further away at that moment but that comes next as we get back to reality.

And of course, those of us from Blighty who arrived back from an awesome weekend late last night want exactly the same as our friends in Iceland.

And that is what makes being a Gooner so special.

Siggi, your family and your friends, you are absolute legends and we thank you all. X

Frank
@stubbsy70

A Satisfactory Breather

Monday 2nd October 2017

The last time we went into the international break it was on the back of 2 early season defeats the second of which included a day in the city of Liverpool that bordered on humiliating. Our results since then however, have been very positive and Sunday’s defeat of the The Seagulls sees us going into the latest ‘week off’ in a far better frame of mind.

Attending another game when I hadn’t actually got home from the last one felt a bit weird and not something I have done very often down the years. I remember in our UEFA Cup run coming home on a Saturday with a game to attend on the Sunday but think I managed to reach my abode each time. And I also recall an early season Champions League Qualifier in Prague where we went straight from the previous weekend’s home game to the airport. But that is about it.

The 12 noon kick-off on a Sunday dictated that it is what I needed to do on this occasion and even with a decent game, a good performance and those all important three points I would be lying if I said I was unhappy about walking through my front door late that same afternoon!

I wasn’t sure what to call my blog on this occasion and heading back to the tube immediately after the game I was leaning towards something like ‘Spluttering Along Nicely’. That came out of the fact although our results have been good I felt again on Sunday we rode our luck a little bit at times.

On reflection however, especially after reading a couple of match reports elsewhere, we did pretty much dominate the game and thoroughly deserved to win. One thunderous free-kick aside in the first half matching Laca’s similar strike in the game’s opening minute when it smashed against the post, our visitors didn’t really threaten until the very latter stages.

So an excellent start to October after a fruitful September and we all take a breather.

Our players returning injury free from their various international commitments is our biggest desire so its fingers crossed on that one.

For me I feel it’s about time I left the country again! So 39 fellow Gooners will be joining me on a long ago planned weekend in Iceland hosted by our good friends from the Icelandic Arsenal Supporters Club.

It promises to be enormously different to our next destination of Watford.

Enjoy the break.

Frank
@stubbsy70

Memorable Minsk

Saturday 30th September 2017

Greetings from Vienna Airport. On a Saturday afternoon. With a hangover. Brought on by a Friday night in Minsk. To the people of Belarus, we thank you. You have been brilliant hosts and I can’t wait to come back.

When the draw was made we knew this one would be ‘different’. It has been that and more. A proper adventure with a few goals and a win to boot.

Compared to many of the major cities we travel to there are not as many flight choices to the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Our 6am departure from Heathrow on Wednesday morning was painful even with an overnight stay in a nearby hotel included. But, with a quick change of planes in Vienna our arrival into Minsk was both early and easy.

Our choice of both location and accommodation type was also something to think about on our 3 night stay but despite the city of Borisov having very few options for an overnight stay and it’s visitor entertainment choices being extremely limited, we decided on Wednesday and Friday in the capital and Borisov itself on the night of the game.

Having been to the likes of Moscow, Donetsk and Vilnius in the past they were my only sources of what to expect from Minsk and Belarus in general. I’m not sure what I was expecting but we have loved it. The people have been incredibly friendly and the whole place feels both safe and is spotlessly clean. And cheap too.

Accommodation number 1 was a good hotel next to a lake and within walking distance of everything central and after checking in we took a sundrenched stroll to find a location for food and refreshment. And the location we chose could not have been any better.

From this…….

Like everywhere we go the local Gooners are extremely passionate and it was their hospitality we sampled next as we joined them at the ‘Friends Brewery’ until we turned in well into the wee small hours. A long, tiring but thoroughly excellent first day.

Match day is where everything got interesting!!

Borisov is around 40 miles from Minsk. So along with another group of Gooners we organised a minibus to get us to our destination. Despite most feeling slightly fragile our 10.30am departure time worked for all……or it would have done if the bus didn’t break down before we had even got out of Minsk!!

The sight of 15 English men stood by the side of the road most with a can of local beer on the go was one thing. Strawberry Blonde knocking up cheese sarnies using a credit card as a spreader was approaching sad!!

Fortunately the delay was short and another bus soon arrived.

An apartment for 4 had been booked in central Borisov but despite the good online reviews the fact it cost us about a fiver each I would be lying if I said my anticipation wasn’t laced with a dash of trepidation.

And then we arrived…….

It would be safe to say that if we didn’t have another choice we probably wouldn’t have got out of the bus. Much to the hilarity of our fellow travellers who were being dropped at their very comfortable hotel in the woods on the outskirts of the town!

…….to this!

Inside it was mildly better, clean, dry and near to the pub/restaurant that was to be our host for all our time in Borisov excluding the match. So it could have been worse!

And that very build up brings us to the game.

Bate’s new stadium is on the outskirts of the city and is quite a sight. This despite it being no bigger than Bournemouth. Modern and atmospheric the Gooners from the UK and local, many of whom were in the home end, definitely contributed to the atmosphere and sense of occasion.

Apart from conceding late on, the first half couldn’t have gone better. 3 goals and smacking the woodwork twice emphasising our domination and potency going forward.

But that wasn’t the whole story and our hosts creating numerous chances in the 2nd period provided ample evidence that it was a good job we had scored 4 goals.

Overall however, with a very young side, the game was enjoyable and the performance and result was very satisfying.

Post match we enjoyed the hospitality of the local bar again, making sure we’d all consumed enough to make heading back to our ‘penthouse suite’ was all the more comfortable!

Friday began with the bus trip back into the capital and our next accommodation, this time a very spacious and luxurious 2 bedroom apartment in the very centre of the city.

A quite superb lunch continued the top quality food theme we had enjoyed throughout the trip before we headed into the old town for a few Friday afternoon and evening liveners.

Friday nights in the vast majority of towns and cities are always going to offer plenty to entertain. And Coyote Bar certainly fell into that category for our group. The security staff on the door were a perfect example of the friendly and hospitable manner we have experienced throughout.

“Good evening gentleman, are you English? ”

“Here for Arsenal?”

After 2 positive responses….

“Welcome to you all, please enjoy your evening.”

And we did….a lot…..hence the hangover.

My flight to London is boarding very soon and I can finally look forward to tomorrow’s visit of Brighton.

Since the disaster at Anfield, every result has been hugely positive. It’s down to us to make sure we go into the international break with that continuing.

Come on you mighty reds!

Frank
@stubbsy70

A Spluttering Three

Tuesday 26th September 2017

I’ve attended hundreds of games like that one. And I’m not exaggerating. An unattractive fixture. An average performance. And three points. So I’ll take that.

Monday night games have lots of negatives about them. But they do have their good side too. A football free weekend precedes the fixture and now and again that is very welcome. And with the traditional opening day of the working week never being anyone’s favourite, the thought it will end with a bit of footy definitely helps get you through the day.

And then there’s that special night game atmosphere, something that was definitely present in abundance last night despite that apathetic air surrounding our club right now.

Results this early in the season are often wrongly described as ‘crucial’. But if we can allow for the fact games away at Liverpool, Chelsea and (for us in particular it seems) Stoke are difficult to pick up points, we must look at fixtures at home to the likes of West Brom as ‘must win’. And I say that with the utmost respect intended.

We started pretty well last night I felt but The Baggies showed their intent when Petr brilliantly put a strike onto the post from their first attack on the break.

Alex nodding home after Alexis’ free kick was ‘crucial’ on the night if we are going to use that word. It gave as something to hold on to when our visitors threatened to score goals of their own.

And threaten they did. It doesn’t matter how much I am biased in fact, there is no doubt we were fortunate to be leading at half time.

Sometimes that works for you, sometimes it doesn’t. So when we are on the fortunate side I certainly don’t feel guilty about it.

We were by far the better side in the second period and when you are already leading that is more than satisfactory. But it always felt like we needed a second goal.

That came with a penalty, not something we get awarded very often it seems. And it was debatable. 

There were 2 possible penalty incidents on the night, both of which went our way on this occasion. For arguably the first time ever I actually agree with the West Brom manager’s view on theirs that was not awarded. If a player is ‘honest’ but is fouled but doesn’t score I believe the incident should be pulled back and a penalty awarded. But is that rule in place? Who knows!?

Whatever way you look at it the incentive for an attacking player to stay on his feet is simply not there. And that can’t be right.

But Tony Pulis comes from one of those group of managers that includes the likes of Allardyce, Hughes and Pardew. It doesn’t need me to tell you what I mean by that. Those that don’t ever start or intend to start with the words, “In my opinion”…..as they are never wrong of course.

And despite me agreeing he had a point about the penalty he was certainly back to his blinkered and irritating ways when suggesting an incident in the first few minutes should have seen a yellow card and ultimately led to a sending off. I say that because the fact if the referee and linesman had got the second incident correct the same player would not have received a yellow later on in the match has of course been overlooked by Mr. Pulis. Now there’s a surprise. 

For me our penalty award is a difficult one. Would it have been given a foul if it was anywhere else on the pitch? I would say yes. But do we ever see that kind of ‘challenge’ penalised when it happens inside the box? Very rarely and on that basis alone I would say we were a tad fortunate. 

But overall I felt we just about deserved the three points. Not that I would be over bothered even if we didn’t!

A trip to the Belarusian town of Barysaw comes next, not a line I have said in my footballing life. But that is the beauty of following our great club in a nutshell. I am going to Minsk. I am going to Belarus. And I am going to sample the hospitality of FC Bate Borisov. And that is something I can safely say I wouldn’t be doing if it wasn’t for the Arsenal. 

Over land and sea.

Frank
@stubbsy70

Through the Gloom

Thursday 22nd September 2017

To say I had a ‘bad feeling’ about last night is not quite accurate. I genuinely felt we would win…..but there was a degree of negativity in my overall body language. Thinking about it in bed when I struggled to get out of ‘driving mode’ in the early hours of this morning, I think it is just indicative of life in general right now.

There is a sense of apathy around our football club of course and whilst admitting the fixture not taking place during a school half term week definitely needs to be taken into account and 40 thousand plus ticket sales for a League Cup tie at home to Doncaster is still impressive, the attendance being the lowest ever for a first class match at our new ground seems to support the argument.

Brexit and the current weakness of sterling are both causing me untold problems in my working life and that doesn’t help my general mood. More importantly, worryingly and dreadfully sad of course are both the terrible loss of life and belongings brought on in recent weeks by this planet’s most destructive natural causes and the increasing genuine threat of nuclear war.

Overall there just doesn’t seem to be much to get upbeat about.

My car journey up was ok and I negotiated the capital city’s tube network relatively comfortably too and I was looking forward to some quick, easy and satisfying pre-match tucker. My mood therefore wasn’t improved when the 2 places I had in mind were closed and I ended up in a chippy that served me a soggy bone filled piece of ‘fish’ that had me leaving more worried whether I would see it again over the next hour or so than anything else!

Something that had me feeling a combination of irritation and amusement however, accompanied my consumption of the ‘abominable fishthing’. Most of us have watched the film ‘Fever Pitch’ and are very familiar of the pre match café scene where the young lad witnesses everyone ‘slagging off’ pretty much everything surrounding the club. In fact it is a situation I personally remember experiencing on a number of occasions as a young boy and I’m sure I’m not the only one!

Well, last night I had two such older gentlemen sitting behind me in the chippy. The bullshit was almost legendary. If I heard “My mate in the club has told me….” And “I’ve been told….” once, I heard it a hundred times! You know the kind of stuff;

Bloke 1 “That Sanchez is shit. The sooner we sell him the better. And as for Giroud, I have it on good authority he’s addicted to cakes. He’s been told unless he slims down we will be selling him to Luton in January”.

Bloke 2 “Yeah, I’ve heard that….something to do with a sponsorship deal with Greggs apparently.”

Bloke 1 “I’ve been told the only reason Ox left was because he didn’t like the décor in the changing rooms.”

Bloke 2 “That’s not true, my man in the club has said the newspaper delivery service from his local corner shop was appalling.

Bloke 1 “Really, I’ve also heard Ramsey’s off, he now wants to play rugby and Saracens have put in an offer.”

Bloke 2 “That’s rubbish mate, I’ve been told Elkie Brooks is looking for a new roadie. And he was seen at her latest show at the London Palladium. So I would say that’s a definite.”

Bloke 1 “No way, my mate in the club has told me he is more of a Kasabian fan…..so he’s far more likely to sign for them.”

Now……I am exaggerating a bit of course. But not much believe me.

As for the game it was probably a little more entertaining for a neutral than for those of us supporting the red and white. It certainly started well, our quite dazzling attacking play could and should have seen us 4 or 5 up in the first 20 minutes, including what would have been an absolute cracker from Olly had it not smashed against the woodwork.

The remainder of the game was pretty mediocre at times, Doncaster’s impressive following growing more hopeful the longer the game went on. It also included one guy looking to make a name for himself in front of his mates by entering the field of play. ‘Streakers’ are not a new thing in any sport. They have been around for many many years. Some almost became famous, Erica Roe running naked across the pitch at Twickenham in 1982 and a chap also lacking attire hurdling the stumps at Lords back in 1975 are two I seem to remember being quite amusing. They were quite unique back then too of course. Even at the World Athletics Championships last month I was ‘lucky’ enough to witness a rather large gentleman sprinting down the main straight in all his glory!

Lat night’s intruder could have made more of an effort I feel. Stumbling around in your food stained lounge pants with your arms in the air for no apparent reason doesn’t do much for your club or your county mate. At least you kept your clothes on I suppose and for that we can all be grateful.

Theo took his goal well from Alexis’ superb through ball and that was enough to see us through but our lack of additional goals saw Donnie gain confidence as the game went on and there were fleeting moments where extra time was a threat. To be honest my general mood dictated that felt almost inevitable. Getting home after 4am would have been the result of that so I was more than ecstatic when the final whistle blew and we were through. A home game against Norwich in late October is the prize.

Just the journey home to negotiate and that was fine until, without any mention of it on the Highways Agency website, they had closed the A3 at Guildford. Triffic. But, somehow, I made my ferry. So a successful conclusion and one I will take.

West Brom come to town next on Monday night. So we have a football free weekend to enjoy.

On we go.

Frank
@stubbsy70