Derby day drama

Dateline: 14 January 2017, 14:00
We are heading towards enemy territory
Worse than that, our travelling companions are the enemy.
Tension is in the air and the usually gregarious THS are monosyllabic. It is Hemel v the Mighty Saints and no one wants to contemplate defeat. Or worse, the thought of travelling home in the same car as the victors.

On the plus side it is unlikely that TLF will suffer a repeat of last week’s score line affliction. For not only is the car silent. It is also sober. This local derby is segregated so the Saints fans cannot experience the joys of Hemel hospitality. I had considered an early drink chez TLF Towers or maybe en route (admittedly a very short route) but the words in the pre-match information, ‘Temporary’, ‘Toilet’ and ‘Facilities’ (or two portaloos as I think they really meant) had rather dulled the TLF appetite for liquid refreshment.

This was TLF’s debut at Hemel and as a huge fan of Fantastic Mr Fox (or FMF as true believers know him), I really wanted Hemel to not be owned by a Boggins…but by a Boggis, Roald Dahl’s evil chicken farmer. I do think though that even with astray letter ‘n’, he would fit one of Dahl’s stories; he has the hair, stature and hi-vis jacket for it.

Local derbies are funny things. And Satday was no exception. The start though was all a bit not funny ha-ha, and more, funny WTF? The sobriety element certainly fed into that category; however it was knocked into a non-comedy cocked hat by the utterly NOT funny, NOT big and NOT clever chucking of two flares (smoking variety not pantaloon) onto the pitch in front of our stand as the players walked out onto the pitch. The two tossers (in every sense of the word), when challenged by a steward attempted first some feeble denial and then offered up a poor case for why they shouldn’t be removed from the ground. Neither strategy worked, in part no doubt to the fury of the Saints fans around them who made clear their displeasure at the sequence of events and suggested a speedy exit from the ground would be best all round. I like to think that TLF has a sense of humour and mischief but chucking a flare is dangerous, pointless, gets the club fined and let’s remember we are at a small non-league ground in Hertfordshire not the Turk Telecom Arena.

With that unwelcome distraction out of the way, our attentions turned back to the game, while of course complementing our hosts on the picturesque nature of their ground, the desirability of Hemel as a town to make your home and the intellect of its residents. We were also very generous in provision of advice to Hemel’s drummer as to options for where he or she might like to store their drumsticks. The eagle eyed will have noted last week that WE had a drum, but of course your own drum is of course a different kettle (BOOMBOOM!) of fish. (With thanks to Russell Wallman for that fine pun, which I have snared from an email he sent to me).

To return to an earlier sentence, local derbies are funny things. Particularly when your team scores a 94th minute equaliser. That makes it honours even this season as the reverse fixture in September saw the same score line but with a last minute Hemel equaliser. Déjà vu on the pitch and slightly more bonhomie in the car home.
Sober Fox

Match Stats
Hemel Hempstead 2 St Albans City 2
Attendance: 856
Refreshments: A coffee. Seriously. Oh and 2 Percy Pigs – we know how to party.

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Denialism: Refusal to accept an empirical, verifiable reality

After a barren spell of 21 days (twenty-one) without entering a football ground things were back on an even playing keel (keep up!) with last Satday’s trip to see the mighty Saints take on league leaders Maidenheadstone Utd. Those 21 days were of course largely filled with non-footballing, high end footballing fun and quality TLF & Mr TLF time, (apart from the four days at work obvs) but there are some things that only Clarence park can offer.
No one else debates the colour of raffle tickets with me like Duncan does. Actually no else debates the colour of raffle tickets with me at all. I do though hope for a bit more adventure in this area in 2017. Would it be so bad to rechristen the yellow raffle tickets, ‘lemon’?

There is also no company quite like my fellow Saintettes, particularly when we are co-ordinated in the knitwear department. TLF’s phone was also festooned with a new football app as recommended by Red Julie’s THS son – speedy updates for both TLF’s teams now a certainty!

A walking advert for the club shop's fine woollen items

A walking advert for the club shop’s fine woollen items

New for 2017 is percussion. Barry and Trevor were with drum. TLF has always been a bit suspicious of the need for musical instruments at football, unless someone came along with a Grand piano and set that up on the terraces, now that would be worth seeing. Anyway the reality is that even the hardest of hearts would melt at the glee and élan with which Barry was banging his drum. Unless the owner of the hard heart was a musician, then they might be quite traumatised. More importantly a drum can, when it isn’t being thumped, double as a beer table and so it brings an element of practicality to it.

"We'll name that tune in...Awhile"

“We’ll name that tune in…Awhile”

Sadly while all was bonhomie in the bar and on the terraces, it wasn’t like that on the pitch, as the Saints dominated the game but didn’t make it count (as they say in the sporting press). The third opposition goal put the tin lid on it for TLF. Still there was some fight left as the City pulled one back. Amid the celebration TLF did note that the app wasn’t updating – it still only said 1-2, not 1-3.

Still too much to do,’ was our verdict.
And then Merson bangs a 90th minute into the Maidenheadstone’s goal and we go wild. A bit too wild if you ask me, all we have done is make the score line more respectable. Now the app says 2-2.
“This app still isn’t updating.”
“Yeah I know. It’s weird.”
“And the twitter feed says we have just EQUALISED.”
“James, didn’t they score 3?”
“No the third was disallowed.”

Cue a rather delayed and wild celebration that to the casual observer has no cause.
TLF has mentioned the joy of the LME (last minute equaliser) before. But the LME you didn’t realise was an LME until a few minutes later, is even better.
If a little embarrassing.

Equaliser-denier TLF

Match Stats
St Albans city 2 Maidenheadstone Utd 2 (I think)
Attendance: 1,111
Lemon raffle tickets purchased: 10
Refreshments consumed: Some beer and some bacon fries (the former may explain TLF score line issues)

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21 days without football – delirium officially sets in

If you read a newspaper or for our younger readers an online media source during the festive and new year season it was hard not to escape a concerted doom-fest; a collective end of year gnashing of teeth about what a rubbish 2016 we had and just how bad 2017 could be. TLF however thinks there might be a cure; TLF is changing the calendar.

Mr TLF, currently masquerading as Mr SGTLF (spectacularly grumpy) has less ambition; he has merely vowed that he is ‘not doing January next year’. In the interests of kicking out against this post-truth world TLF should point out that’s nothing to do with an attempt at a dry January or any other pleasure-denying resolution. Rather a rubbish week involving a sickly car, unanswered emails, a lack of archery club action and first hand witnessing of an FA Cup humiliation (OFFICIAL teaser – more on that football debacle next week), and thus the month of January or Wulf-monath as the Saxons used to call it (FACT!) is written off.

TLF is happy to keep January on the payroll, even if it did get off to a slightly grim start with a defeat for the Mighty Saints and the inflicting of armchair torture in the form of a televised bore-athon draw for Lesta City. Rather the TLF plans are more about realignment, so that a year can be properly judged on what really matters – the football. The ‘calendar year’ will be binned and replaced by the ‘football season year’. It’s been done before – admittedly not since October 1582, but some traditions should be revived.

As a Foxes and Saints fan it is hard to completely roll my eyes about 2016 in the way that your average soppy, leftie likes to. For every USA election or referendum result, for every rise of intolerance thinly disguised as ‘telling the liberal elite where to get off’ and for every time experts were written off as irrelevant (an expert medical person to treat my illness? I don’t think so – jumped up educated fool! Bring me a snake oil salesman to nurse me back to health post-haste) there was Leicester City – Premier League Champions (no really) and St Albans City FC joyous relegation escape, led by a proper gaffer. So if you talk about 2015/16 then TLF can be nostalgic and cheery, happily burbling, “yes it was brilliant, amazing…best year ever. But look at 2016/17 – Brexit, Trump, Lesta flirting with relegation.”

Like any good theory I have just tested it. And the holes have been highlighted (everyone’s a critic these days…but NOT an expert), from a Mighty Saints perspective, 2016/17 hasn’t looked too shabby so far and a first ever foray into the Champions League is not to be snuffled at. Of course if the Saints’ slump continues and the European tour ends with abject humiliation at the hands of Sevilla then the theory might be back on…..But for now TLF will embrace the Gregorian and just accept that like every other year 2017 will have some good bits and some sh1t bits, like all years before it. And maybe some of those bits won’t even involve football.
Pope Gregory Fox XIII

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Not a new year’s message

Writing a little ramble on New Year’s Eve should in theory be easy. There’s two ways to do it; in the morning, all nice and sober quick review of the year, preview of the impending 12 months and bosh! all done. Or wait until very un-sober, take an inappropriate photo and post that, accompanied by suitably erudite missive along the lines of appynooyear. yourrrrgreaTLFlovezzzzzyou.

TLF will however be eschewing (BOOM!) this approach. Levels of high dudgeon, are so…well high, after Boxing day football results that all pronouncements are suspended until after Lesta’s last result of 2016 (31 Dec) and the Mighty Saints first result of 2017 (1 Jan).
Christmas was once again spent with the NPiDWDLFs – nice people in Dorset who don’t like football. For once their total disinterest and the speed at which they chuck the sports section of the paper in the recycling was quite welcome. No one to note wryly on Boxing Day that, “this makes two games on the trot that St Albans have conceded four goals” or that, “Lesta could go from Champions League to Championship in the blink of an eye.”

TLF was keen not to try and convert them under such circumstances either and stayed focussed on an equally pressing matter, i.e. revenge for the Xmas day girls v boys TP defeat. TP? Trivial Pursuit – do keep up. This time the boys were without their star striker who had retired to bed early and they struggled in the face of a red-wine fuelled team that were not to be denied. The 6 cheeses to 1 humiliation was helped by some atrocious defending (channel your inner Alan Hansen and say those words again) by Mr TLF who on no less than two occasions diverted the metaphorical TP ball into his own net, whimsically pondering out loud the answers to questions that the opposition were struggling with.

Let’s hope that the opponents of the Foxes and Saints are equally generous in the next 24 hours.
2016 Fox

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A boxing day bargain

The sharp –eyed amongst you, whose faculties have not been dulled by an excess of mince pies and other such seasonal comestibles will be aware that we have another full on episode of TLFT (TLF tardiness). But if you can’t exercise a bit of slackness when it’s the festive season then when can you? See this as a Boxing Day sale, a BOGOF and I promise I won’t be late with blogs anymore. Well, not this year at any rate.

Hedging your bets
Lesta were at home, the Mighty Saints were at mythical Margate (not mythical in a Greek legend way, more in a, TLF never gets to go there kind of a way). It was a tough choice, but in a moment of rare clarity, TLF realised there was a third way. MISS THEM BOTH. And spend some quality time with Mr TLF. And pretend that the Lesta game wasn’t happening at all, because let’s face it, domestically things are a bit pants….and they were facing Manchester City…and the kick off had been moved to 5.30pm which TLF really hates (but it was all about the quality time I promise). Although just in case the game actually is really happening, we’ll set the digi-box to record at the time it would be happening; just in case there are any incidents worth a look at later. “Not that there will be, we’ll probably just delete it straightaway.” And then we’ll go to Dylan’s at the King’s Arms and eat triple cooked trips, with pulled beef and not look at the twitter. And then on the way home TLF’s resolve will crumble and the phone will be switched back on to reveal numerous texts and tweets which make it sound like things might just be alright at Filbert Way. Like a moth to a flame TLF is then inevitably drawn towards the TV and is astounded and delighted (although does do a bit of worrying for the final 15 minute, knowing that Lesta are perfectly capable of throwing away a four goal lead). Mr TLF is relieved that a Lesta game has finally delivered a cheerful TLF but even more astounded and delighted to discover that because of the football, we’ve pretty much missed all of that evening’s Strictly. Winners all round.

Nice beaver
Beaver (castor fiber): a large, semi aquatic rodent, known for building dams, and the second largest rodent in the world.
It’s ok, you haven’t tuned into Planet Earth and TLF hasn’t come over all David Attenborough (another of Lesta’s finest exports so it goes), but it was inevitable after a visit to the home of the beavers for a bit of pre-Christmas festive football. Yes I know, the Beavers. What a nickname, sadly bound to bring out the adolescent in any pre-Xmas giggly TLF…..

Could have been mature about this but where's the fun in that?

Could have been mature about this but where’s the fun in that?

Attendance at an away game a week before Xmas is potentially a tall order but TLF had concocted a suitably convincing business case: “It’ll be my last game of 2016.”; “Hampton and Richmond play at a proper ground…Johnny Farmer said so.” It seemed to do the trick as TLF found herself in the company of Julie who was project-managing our route to Hampton. NOT Hampton Wick. NOT Hampton Court, but definitely the Hampton that the bloke at Vauxhall told us his train wasn’t going to, except it was…thanks mate. Still we can drink beer on a platform while waiting for the next train to Hampton just as well as we can drink it on a train. And if we had got that train we would have missed out on traveling with the aforementioned JF and the AD43 boys, which is never dull.

And JF is right; it is a nice ground, with a beaver sign (fnarr, fnarr) with a cosy bar that had a nice pre-Christmas vibe, no doubt helped by the staff’s festive jumpers, the draft Cobra lager and Julie’s very fine homemade gingerbread men. The injured Scott Thomas selecting one with a leg missing seemed particularly apt. Everyone TLF would want to see at an away game was there, the singing was good, the opposition had a full grown man dressed as a beaver (fnarr, fnarr) and on the way home Julie and I received gifts not of frankincense and myrrh but pineapple, plum and kiwi. Not from wise men you understand but a subset of the AD43 boys…I think there may be a green grocer in Hampton who will never be the same again.

You will have spotted in this ramble a severe absence of reference to the game itself.
We lost 4-0.
Never, ever laugh at a beaver.
Dammit Fox

"Yeah, that;s right TLF. Let's see whose laughing at the final whistle..."

“Yeah, that;s right TLF. Let’s see whose laughing at the final whistle…”

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Deferred gratification

I know.
IOU 2 blogs.
The non-existent dog might have eaten my Whitehawk blog…OR more likely the trixy and uncooperative Cotswolds wifi intervened and then once back in the civilised world of internet connection the world of work thoughtlessly took over. So hush now, sit back and enjoy two blogs for the click of one.

Bob Ralph the Builder

My Grandad wasn’t that much of a football fan. He was a builder by trade, one half of the mighty two man band that was Newman Brothers, jointly owned with his brother Eric. They were old skool, working on site with brick dust encrusted shirt and tie, hard hat eschewed (BOOM!) in favour of the flat cap, with a small pencil wedged behind the ear. Suckers of teeth, occasional tramplers of flower beds and scaffolding supremoes. Were they good builders? Couldn’t attempt a tripadviser styley review me having been a whippersnapper when they were building things, but my mum’s house hasn’t fallen down yet so they must have been alright.

Anyway even though the football wouldn’t have interested him I think a trip to Whitewhawk might just have appealed. Consisting as it does of a sloping pitch (more from left to right than one goal to the other), a big grass bank and two main stands which are largely well….scaffolding. Even its name has a touch of the builders about it; ‘The Enclosed Ground’. The ‘Out of the bloomin way and even when you are off the bus, it’s a bit of a walk Ground’ would be more accurate.

He liked a train journey too and so I think he would have joined us, Brighton being, for those of you less than intimate with the joys of Thameslink a handily direct journey from St Albans. It takes a mere two hours or to put it another way, two cans of Amstel outward bound and three pints of Stella on the return leg (I’d got into my stride by then).

He also liked a drink (preferably someone else’s) and would I am sure have enjoyed the liquid refreshment, bonhomie and company of Julie and also her husband and youngest son who, when they are not being very good company, are what is commonly known as the Hemel Scum (THS). THS were going somewhere that involved a change of Haywards Heath, further details were not required.

We weren’t really enjoying the football so I doubt he would have but he had a sense of humour and so would have appreciated the baiting of Whitehawk’s keeper and also the haranguing of the dog walker who chose to swerve the £12 entry fee by ‘walking his dog’ on the grassy bank that counts as the fourth stand.

The goal when it came was a cracker, sadly Saints couldn’t capitalise on that and an injury time left us all feeling a bit flat. My Grandad probably wouldn’t have noticed; he’d have been examining the quality of their scaffolding – each to their own.

Grassy bank - dog walker not included

Grassy bank – dog walker not included

Can she build it? Yes she can Fox

Dingle Belles

While I am generally a pretty FFZ-averse kind of a TLF, there are some weekends when it is an acceptable state of affairs.

The annual Green Room Committee weekend away falls into this category. Long term followers will know the drill – 8 wimmin, one large cottage, hot tub in the garden, excess supply of cake, cheese, snackage &booze; SCD, a classic film and one country walk to ease the guilt of the excess. This was year Severrnnnn and the GRC found itself spending a fantastic long weekend at the Dingle, in Great Rollright (Cameron country – we didn’t bump into him; probably for the best).

Truth is there is a simple but winning formula that ensures a good time is had by all and TLF likes to think that one or two football managers could learn a few things from us:

If it ain’t broke….other than a yearly change of venue and the introduction of the hot tub element in 2013 the weekends follow the same pattern and everyone keeps coming back for more.

A regular squad. While there are the occasional absences down to unforeseen events it’s the same squad, year in year out. The formation may change, i.e who snags the double room to themselves but other than that, the personnel remain the same.

A simple game plan that the team understand and adhere to – Arrive, explore, talk, drink, It takes 2, eat, sleep. Tea/coffee, talk, hot tub, talk, pub lunch, shop, drink, talk, Strictly, eat, drink, watch film, bad dancing impressions (optional), drink, talk, sleep. Repeat previous day but replace pub lunch with big walk, a roast dinner and Strictly Results show. Come home and start to agree a date for next year’s shenanigans.

Open communication within the squad – When the question asked by Lisa (resident qualified massage specialist), “You’ve all got the same tight spot in the shoulder. What does that say?” Prompts the response from Maria, “It says shut the f#ck up.” Lisa takes it on the chin and we get to watch Strictly in peace – no harm done.

Clearly defined roles – TLF will be the one getting angsty when a further pot of coffee is proposed, thereby further delaying Satday’s pub lunch. Deborah will be the coffee police keeping a close eye on coffee strength.. Lisa & Marina will spend longer in the hot tub than anyone else. Everyone will at some point lose their glasses/phone/iPad.

A strict nutrition and refuelling regime – small intake but often. And while the occasional vegetable or piece of fruit is to be encouraged they need to be at all times preceded or followed by salty snackage, cake based products, wine or tea (early grey if you insist…or as TLF describes it ‘perfume in a cup’).

OK so all of the above might not help them win the Premier League or keep the Chairman happy…but they might not look so miserable on MOTD.

(Better late than never)

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Strictly Come Champions League

There are many words these lost paws (TLP) never thought they would type, even in the best of Stella induced hazes, “Trump and President” being three such. But “Lesta City and last 16 of the Champions League” really did seem like entries into comedy, fantasy word league.
But then again combine those with, “while teetering on the brink of the relegation places” and it all seems a bit more normal.

Of course it being Lesta City they did mess with TLF’s head against FC Brugge…or BRUG-E as one of the commentators on the wireless chose to say. An early goal, some near misses, a bit of fancy play and then nervous panic after conceding a goal; that’s more like the Lesta TLF knows. But we did it and all of a sudden the obscene train fare to Lesta (just more than the trip to Brugge and just less than the trip to Copenhagen) seemed irrelevant. History had been made and a new chapter in the mad fairy tale that is Lesta city had been writ.

You could tell how much it meant from the intense post-match analysis that took place in Simon’s car as we drove back to his house (and my BnB for the night). I have never heard such passion and focus as we discussed the performances so far and the future rounds..We both agreed that, “Oti and Danny Mac are nailed on for the final and Kevin and Louise have really come on. And Kevin is just the best teacher…” And the TLF stops and laughs. Lesta have just made it to the last 16 of the Champions League and we are busy discussing Strictly.

Well Pickle TLF’s walnuts

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The people have spoken

While TLF’s rambling is generally concerned with all tings Footballing and Kultural there are sometimes such seismic, global, political events, that here at TLF Towers we recognise at moments like this we have a duty to not shy away from controversy but to address head on the issues of the day.

I refer dear reader, of course to the monumental news story of November and the hysterical reaction that followed it. Never before have I seen such an outpouring of anger, hatred and sheer bigotry as that prompted by the John Lewis Christmas advert.

The venom and vitriol inspired by foxes cavorting on a garden trampoline has been breath-taking. Since when did a fox not have the right to bounce!? Urban dwellers have informed us that foxes should be nowhere near any self-respecting trampoline as all foxes crap in their gardens, have loud fox lurve at unsociable hours and in their spare time mug old ladies, while your rural dwellers have been reminding anyone within reach of the Twittersphere that all foxes are lamb-murdering-b*stards. Just a few minor TLF points in response to this foxophobic witch hunt.

1. There aren’t just foxes on the trampoline. There is a badger, a hedgehog and a squirrel so cut the brethren some slack.
2. Foxes have as much right to a bit of trampoline fun as the next mammal.
3. It’s PRETEND!!!! It’s advertising dressed up as a bit of fun. ‘Wildlife-associated-with-urban-gardens-wind-up-cute-boxer-dog-with-trampoline-envy in an attempt to make you buy stuff.’ If you are going to be grumpy about it presumably you would also like to burn every copy of Fantastic Mr Fox and the relevant foxy bits of Aesop Fables.

Get over it you churls. And as for those objecting on the grounds that depicting Dad assembling the trampoline on Christmas Eve has ruined the Santa propaganda for every child? Any fule kno that Santa leaves the kit with a note asking Dad to help.

Oppressed Fox

In case you don’t know what on earth TLF is going on about (probably not for the first time).

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It’s a kind of magic

The 3-5 score line reveals that technically there was no magic of the Cup at Clarence Park last Sunday. The Mighty Saints, underdogs for the day, could not achieve the cliché that is a ‘Cup upset’ and make it to the second round PROPER.

And yet there was something about the whole day itself that would have left Harry Potter feeling at home. On the pitch, under the supervision of tactical wizard and gaffer Ian Allinson the team produced a performance that charmed the crowd. Three perfectly taken goals, including the early opener by Junior Morias which beguiled the BBC viewers who voted it goal of the round.

Off the pitch, the game had clearly enchanted the local community, with a huge crowd of 3,473, encouraged no doubt by the thought of seeing some league opposition but also the efforts of so many to promote the fixture and the club’s speedy and wise response to the consternation that meet the initial ticket prices.

Managing a mass of people seven times bigger than your usual home crowd required those who, week in week out, contribute to a Clarence Park match day to conjure up something a bit special. Which of course they did, with their regular volunteer numbers boosted by youth team players and some of us who usually spend a bit too much time in the bar to be relied upon. There were additional turnstiles to operate (including a special fast track gate), temporary bars to set up (and therefore more beer to sell), posters with directions for the away fans to put up (and there was me without my lucky hammer), tickets for the seated areas to be checked and just generally more STUFF to do. There were no magic wands from what TLF saw, just a lot of effort, the occasional fraught moment and the usual bonhomie.

Not having been allocated a task, TLF was odd-job Fox, going where bid, until John decided to put me in charge of two youth team players, selling programmes. Turns out that 16/17 year olds who want to look cool are perhaps not as vocal and extrovert as forty-something women with daft hair who no longer cares – who knew!? Such was the quality of the TLF sales patter (and willingness to sell to men queuing for the loo)…or more likely the quality of the programme and the occasion that was leaving the punters spellbound, that our first box was soon dispensed and further supplies were sought. By kick-off we were out of programmes and our money belt was stuffed full of coins and notes.

I passed on this good news to John, who wanted to know, “so how many more did you take from the shop to sell?”
TLF hadn’t thought of that. Clearly still an amateur when it comes to the programme selling malarkey.
“Er dunno.”
“So how are we meant to reconcile the programme sales?”

TLF is speechless and is starting to feel a bit like they do in the Boardroom in The Apprentice. I am waiting for John to morph into LordSugah and tell me, “You’re fired.” But he just shakes his head and strolls of to the next task on his to do list, which probably now includes the action, “don’t let TLF have anything to do with money – she is keen but a bit dozy where maths is concerned.”

TLF scuttles off for a restorative first pint of the day and the rest of the game. Our equaliser to make it 2-2 gives us hope but it just isn’t to be. And yet TLF can’t be gloomy – happy to see Clarence Park full and the generosity of so many who gave so much of their own time before, during and after the match.
That isn’t the magic of the Cup.
That is the magic of St Albans City FC.

Sorcerer’s Apprentice Fox

Match Stats
St Albans City 3 Carlisle Utd 5
Attendance: 3473
Consumption: 1 pint of Stella (no time – busy working!) and 1 packet bacon fries
Programmes sold: Lots

"Get your souvenir programme heeeereeee!"

“Get your souvenir programme heeeereeee!”

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Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen

Danny Kaye went there by boat but TLF went by plane. The outside of East Midlands Airport at 06.55am on Wednesday morning was dark, frosty and silent. Inside however was a sea of blue bonhomie and anticipation with two chartered flights checking in. There as a nervous moment for TLF as the lady behind the check-in desk grimaced. Was TLF on a suspected terrorist (or tortoise if spell checker gets its way) watch list? Noo. A computer had decided to allocate my middle name to my flight details (‘Lost’ not ‘Louise’ I desperately claimed). Fortunately the Footballing Gods don’t want TLF to miss out and the nice lady amends the records.

After that it is time to hunker down and wait for the flight to be called. TLF chooses to give an example in how not to blend in. Regardless of the scarf and shirt, a copy of The Times, a smoked salmon bagel and a coffee do not meet the bacon butty pint of lager and copy of The Sun requirements. All of the aforementioned bar one TLF is a fan of…but it’s too early and possibly one glass too many of red last night in the parental’s local.

I have book to keep me company as well. Mr TLF’s mate had recommended it, mainly cos it is based in Copenhagen. TLF likes a book based somewhere that is being visited. TLF doesn’t like a historical novel. And turns out this one is set in the year known as ’15effing92′.

The journey is smooth and the tourist element is a breeze. A visit to the Tivoli Gardens accompanied by an Irish coffee and then lunch in a traditional, dark and moody traditional eatery by a canal. You even fill in an order form. The Danes presumably do irony as the meaty TLF choice is called ‘The Vegetarian Midnight Feast’. Ironic or bad translation.

There is time for a boat trip and a bit of hygge and then it hits TLF. There is a game to watch. The result might spoil this little excursion. Only solution to such bleak thoughts is of course DRINK. And fortunately my recently arrived mate Davids hotel has free wine hour. Well it would be rude not to. The free wine event is topped only by the extended pre match company, including my favourite Peer of the Realm and then the bus trip to the stadium which is tuneful and free beerful; provided not be the bus company but our fellow supporters. As the song goes, “we clink and drink one down.”

The game as any fule kno is nothing to write hjem om as the Danes would say. The stewards abandon seat allocations making our tickets irrelevant and so TLF does the decent thing and goes down the front to make some new singing friends.

My chanting buddies

My chanting buddies

Small but perfectly formed

Small but perfectly formed

TLF gets back to Blighty at 3am; happier than Hamlet (but then again he’s not got much to be happy about, dunno who he supports though).

Prince(ss) of Denmark Fox

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