Eleven more matches have taken me up to 102 for the season. They ranged from Fulham v Newcastle in the Premier League to Winkton Autos v Seabournes in the Bournemouth Sunday League Division 7. I also saw half-an-hour of another match and missed out on four more due to the wet weather.
These were the results: Fulham 2-1 Newcastle, Brentford 1-5 Reading in The FA Youth Cup, Metropolitan Line 6-2 Operational Support in the London Underground League, AFC Bournemouth 1-0 Colchester United in League 1, Winkton Autos 1-5 Seabournes, Brentford 4-2 Bradford City in The FA Cup, Barnet 3-2 Burton in League 2, Crystal Palace 1-1 Huddersfield in the Championship, Tonbridge 2-1 Dover in the Conference South, Leyton Orient 2-1 Walsall and Brentford 0-0 AFC Bournemouth in League 1.
The family were in Sevenoaks for Xmas, six of us altogether, and we enjoyed Doctor Who and The Snowman and the Snowdog on the telly and had a marathon game of ‘Trivial Pursuit’. I longed for a football question but didn’t get one for about two hours. Then it was “Which Wolves player-manager in the 1970s brought out a book called ‘How not to run a football club’?”
I agonised over the answer for what seemed like several minutes, with everyone suggesting I collected my P45 from The FA if I didn’t get it right. My eventual punt was ‘Derek Dougan’, though I honestly couldn’t remember him being their manager, and fortunately that was the answer on the card. My best stat over Xmas, gleaned from 500 Incredible Sports Facts, was that Western Samoa’s first international started at 7am so the players could go to work afterwards.
It was said to have been played on a pitch with a tree in the middle.
I’ve always been a huge fan of The FA Cup as you know and was actually born on a Cup Final weekend. My most treasured Xmas present last week, which apparently all the family chipped in to buy, was the programme from that Final between Blackpool and Newcastle. It had cost a shilling (five pence) originally and I daren’t think what the price is now.
After several days of rain, I was concerned there wouldn’t be any local football on Boxing Day, i.e. local to Sevenoaks. The day itself was dry and sunny to begin with and we found a club tweet confirming that Tonbridge Angels’ Kent derby against Dover Athletic was going ahead at 12 noon. Jonathan, my niece Becci’s fiancé, took the three of us in the car and we were there in 15 minutes.
Swamp football originated in Finland and is a modified form of soccer played in a bog. But there was nothing swamp-like about the pitch at Longmead Stadium, which was in a surprisingly good condition. Angels managed to keep a rampant Dover out for 15-20 minutes and then took the lead against a side 16 places above them in the table. They went on to win 2-1, despite losing a player to a second yellow for time-wasting, and we were swiftly back in Sevenoaks for pizza and salad.
The weekend before Xmas had almost been a washout. I ‘phoned five grounds local to Purley at Saturday lunchtime and everything was off: Carshalton, Chipstead, Merstham, Banstead and Warlingham. I ended up at Palace, the team I supported for 20 years, paying £26 to watch their live TV match with Huddersfield from the Arthur Wait Stand. That stand wasn’t even there when I saw them go up through the divisions in the ‘60s.
Fair play to the Orient cheerleaders, with their Christmassy mini-dresses and golden pom-poms, who didn’t let the driving rain put them off their dance routine last Saturday.
Matches this season = 102
Matches in total = 6,397