A new feature for this season sees Stags fan Alex Warner give an alternative view on things on and off the pitch. You may have seen his first column in last night’s matchday programme and here’s his latest offering following last night’s 2-0 reverse at home to Farnborough.
Well, not quite the start we were hoping for, but there have been enough signs to be quietly optimistic. Whenever we lose, I always find my cycle down the towpath home to Shepperton quite therapeutic, particularly in the dark with the eerie hushed sound of the shiny glowing waves and the Anglers lit up as though it’s some Mediterranean luxury holiday resort. In victory, it’s not the safest of journeys home. After our 3-0 triumph over Wimborne last season I was buzzing so much that in the pitch black I misplaced the footpath just before the Rowing Club and almost ended up in the water and also nearly collided with a huge, flapping swan. Anyway, peddling back on Tuesday night, I reflected on the fact that we hit the woodwork thrice, missed a few sitters towards the end, gave away a freak goal and showed plenty of spirit.
The quality of football on Tuesday was good and entertaining too, making a mockery of those who suggested that it would be all long ball and little on the deck from the new management regime. If anything, sometimes we were a little too dazzling and intricate, against a sturdy and resolute Farnborough. It’s a long season and plenty of time for the new team to gel and I’m still trying to get to know everyone’s names, heaven knows how our Dave the social media guru has worked it all out with such aplomb and so quickly, though I bet he secretly wishes they all had distinguishing hairdos like Cheyce the Ace and, er, Jay Gasson!
The fans were in good voice both at Swindon Supermarine and against Farnborough. The eulogy to Sponsor Steve from Elmbridge Plumbing and Heating (to the sound of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody) was particularly poignant and the “We are the Stags, do-do-do-do-do”, to the Muppets theme tune with 10 minutes left was as loud and energetic as ever. If you had walked into the ground then, you’d have thought we were winning 2-0, whereas the Farnborough folk were relatively subdued. I did my customary walk round the ground, spying and eavesdropping behind the goal at the opposition fans. They took the rise a bit out of our megaphone (another great performance from John Kennedy by the way) and other musical accompaniments but offered little themselves in return, albeit they turned out in reasonable numbers, so much so that we sold out of programmes before kick-off. More likely, though, this was because word had got round that yours truly had put pen to paper for the first match of the season!
Elsewhere on our doorstep, Abbey Rangers seem to be in the ascendency. They’ve just spruced up their Addlestone ground and also installed a 4-G pitch, as well as secured their first ever F.A. Cup victory with a 2-0 home replay win against Loxwood. What chance their meteoric rise taking them up to Step 4? Abbey’s local neighbours Chertsey Town also won their replay overcoming Cobham at Leg O’Mutton Field, 2-4 and it seems they have the Wembley bug again, though winning the F.A Cup is an altogether harder prospect than their incredible achievement of pulling off the F.A. Vase last May! No such joy for Walton & Hersham, however, who were on the wrong side of another 2-4 thriller, against Southall here on the banks of the river last Saturday. Meanwhile, it’s played 4, lost 4 for our friends across the water, as Hampton & Richmond went down 3-2 at Oxford City on Tuesday. It is looking like a challenging season ahead for the Beavers.
Back to Casuals and make sure you check out the hospitality packages on the website. Don’t think you have to make it a corporate shindig/work related gig – for only £25, you and your mates can enjoy a great afternoon or evening – entry to the game and Boardroom (and the chance to meet the iconic Duncan Saunders and maybe our Chairman Tony Gale if he’s got a day off from the Sky commentary box). There’s a bit of nosh thrown in, a free drink and a half-page feature in this incredible programme (which will also be free to you). It doesn’t get much better than this and nor does it than a late summer Saturday at the Home of World Football. I’m trialling my new Matchday Routine today – lunchtime special (Singapore Noodles and Vegetarian Spring Rolls) at the new Thai Bite restaurant in Shepperton, followed by a cycle down the river – cheeky Shandy en route and read of the Saturday newspapers on the banks and then, fingers crossed, three points. Don’t believe what they say, it really is a good time to be alive, right now.
Come on you Stags!