About Last Night…

Surrey Senior Cup, 2nd Round – Dorking Wanderers FC v Walton & Hersham FC
Wednesday, 28th November 2012, 7.45pm
West Humble Playing Fields
Distance 13 miles, Attendance 40 (headcount)
The Changes – About last night… I achieved my plan to get to a match in Sussex (ticks box). Having had a great night at Steyning Town in the run-up to last Christmas I’d been planning for a couple of weeks to check out the South Coast 1881 club. Tragically – without any thanks to work – last night’s was not the trip I had planned (un-ticks box).
121128 Surrey SC Dorking Wanderers v Walton & Hersham (5b)The Postcode – Looking for a football ground at the last minute is easy if the contact details are correct. Just turn up in the area, look for floodlight glow, and hey-presto!  Having scribbled down the address from the Sussex County League site just prior to skipping out the work door, I was confident nothing could go wrong. Thirty minutes later I was sitting in the picturesque darkness of Mickelham. I’d seen a pub, a church, a village hall, a few parked cars, a fox and Box Hill School, where thankfully one knowing gentleman could point me in the right direction… nearly two miles away. The story is: there is a house near Dorking Wanderers newish ground which has a postcode. That postcode has thus been adopted by the ground. Unfortunately this postcode is also the one for a village to the north. DO NOT make the mistake of going by the postcode alone.
The Architecture – I love The Great Escape, and why wouldn’t I? Charles, Dickie & James, digging holes out the bottom of Tom, Dick & Harry, making for the tree line and just falling short. Whatever the similarity of the architecture to West Humble Playing Fields, the underlying feeling is one of calm and contentment at finding a ground where structures actually blend in with their environment. Beautiful wooden buildings linked by paddock-like fencing – naturally the colour of the flora and fauna – which in turn ring-fence the most beautiful game of all. You don’t get that in your hideous concrete bowls.
The Weather – As I asked for directions earlier in the evening, a sharp blast of arctic air stabbed me through the open window. From that moment on, it just got colder. By half time I was huddled up near the tea bar, desperately sheltering from the icy breeze, hoping the heat of the urn would reach me through the wall. Arriving home I was still cold to the bone. Just for future reference, is one better off standing off the ground when it’s cold?

121128 Surrey SC Dorking Wanderers v Walton & Hersham (43)      121128 Surrey SC Dorking Wanderers v Walton & Hersham (38)

121128 Surrey SC Dorking Wanderers v Walton & Hersham (27)      121128 Surrey SC Dorking Wanderers v Walton & Hersham (37)

The Bovril – KLAXON: The friendly faces at the hatch of the welcoming tea bar served REAL Bovril, not the powdered pre-cupped stuff, but real heaped spoon from the jar, in piping hot water. Other than making it in time for kick-off, this was truly one of the most agreeable parts of the night.
The Ball – On nights like these the ball hurts and – as Wanderers defender Duncan Fraser found out – when whacked at you from a yard away it smarts worse than a Chinese burn on your primary school arm (still, Duncan it was one for the team). The other one for the team was the solitary goal of the night, scored on the break by Rob Osgood, who sprung the offside trap and chipped past the on-rushing keeper. It was a just reward for their superior first half and, ably defended throughout the second when the visitors were battering the home defence. The Swans did get the ball in the net deep into the second half – with the aid of some comical defending – but the near linesman flagged for something. I have no idea what the offence was, but does it matter? The thought of another thirty minutes in that cold was bothering me more than the concern expressed by home officials over the pitch holding up.
121128 Surrey SC Dorking Wanderers v Walton & Hersham (48)   121128 Surrey SC Dorking Wanderers v Walton & Hersham (56)   
The Draw – Before this giant-killing was sealed the locals were already weighing up their path to the final. At the final whistle one well-heeled lady exclaimed “When’s the next one? This has got quite exciting!” Well with four games to the big prize, next up for Wanderers are Godalming Town at home, followed by another possible home tie against either Farnham, Merstham or Woking (sorry it’s not AFC Wimbledon as some were pondering by the tea bar). When you take a peek at their rise over the past decade it’s hard not to wish the whole of Dorking Wanderers Football Club well.
121128 Surrey SC Dorking Wanderers v Walton & Hersham (19)The Collective Spirit – The amiable visiting support only added to the good-natured atmosphere in the ground last night. From the moment I paid at the turnstile, to the time I drove out, it was an amicable display off the field, and untidy combative one on it. Fans roundly applauded Tim Brewster’s match-winning save in the second half, sympathised with the ref over the bookings, acknowledged the improvement of Jerome Beckles since his return (no I don’t know where he’s been), and interviewing “the coach” after the break about his thoughts for the second half were offered the wonderful response of, “Yeah, I’ll have a coffee and a burger!”
The film – About last night… Don’t tell my wife but, all those eighties Hollywood bratpacky films are utter nonsense. I’d rather watch the trains passing behind the tea bar.

121128 Surrey SC Dorking Wanderers v Walton & Hersham (40)b

Unceremoniously, I have formally regulated the independence of myself during the making of this blog.
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