At long last, the time had come. A seaside TLF trip to watch the mighty Saints. And what a destination; no faded front for me, no sleepy genteel retirement village, no mile of mud between you and the water. Nope, turned out that Whitehawk FC play just outside of boho Brighton, ‘London by the Sea’, directly linked to St Albans by the Thameslink line. And it was proper sunny.
I was officially excited. This might seem a little OTT but remember I was bought up in the landlocked Void, where as children we were abused with the idea that a day trip to Skeggy (see aforementioned mud reference) would a) not take long in the car, b) be just like the seaside you saw on the telly and c) be fun. Years of therapy mean that I do now realise there is more to the seaside than unfolding yourself from a four hour car journey, walking at a 45 degree angle into a strong headwind past grimy shops, standing ankle deep in mud with onset hypothermia and then coming home again but I did still decide to eschew (BOOM!) the pier and seafront and focus my attentions on the retail and food delights of North Laine.
All was well…..and then I thought it would be daft to come all this way and now just get on a bus or in a cab and go straight to the ground……not pop down and see the sea…and looking at the map….well the ground doesn’t look that far….and it’s a lovely day for a stroll….I’ll walk.
In my experience tourist maps don’t really have a scale. Or as much detail as you would hope. And the first green blob you see on the map, vaguely in the vicinity of where you want to be, is not necessarily the football ground you are looking for (thanks for that Obi-Wan). The aforementioned stroll did after awhile become something of a slightly stressed fast walk. The only thing I hate more than missing the kick off is missing a beer before kick off and things were starting to look a bit rocky (BOOMBOOM!) on that front (geddit!). (Obviously there are things I do hate more than missing kickoff, like racists or Derby County but at that precise moment as clearly tide and time was waiting for no TLF it was the thing I hated the most).
The home of Whitehawk, ‘The Enclosed Ground’ is described as being in a picturesque setting. If by picturesque you mean “down a very long lane, past so many other sports pitches that TLF thought she might have to settle for a days shopping followed by watching Under 16s rugby” then yes it is certainly that. The footballing Gods were on my side though and there was just time to purchase a pint from the pleasingly functional, no-frills clubhouse, exchange some sea-based puns with Knocky (concerns about whether we would be out of our depth were expressed) before the game kicked off. At this point the footballing Gods decided they must have left the gas on back at home or something and bugg#red off, abandoning TLF, the sadly small Saints contingent and the team to our dismal fate. The team started well but it was pretty clear that they weren’t at their best and that Whitehawk are third in the league for a reason. Caught twice by great moves we went in 2-0 down at half time…could we turn the tide (BOOMBOOM!) Things weren’t looking too great off the pitch either as Chipgate erupted. Zac’s choice of curry sauce, based on the high quality product experienced at Chelmsford proving to be a wrong ‘un.
But culinary matters were soon the least of our worries as the less than mighty Saints shipped (BOOMBOOM!) a further four and a fly landed in my beer. When you’re out of luck you really are out of luck. There was nothing much to do except agree that despite the scoreline our keeper Joe Welch was man of the match and that it is a bit chilly at this time of year when the sun goes in. Oh and then wait for the cab that never comes and miss your preferred train of choice.
By then Brighton wasn’t really floating my footballing boat, just rocking it (I’ll get me coat)
St Albans City 0 Whitehawk 6
Lager consumed: 2 pints Fosters (I know, but the only draft lager they had)
Bacon fries: None….don’t be blaming me for the scoreline…I did manage a fine bit of coffee cake and a lamb, garlic and rosemary sausage roll though. Oh and a few rejected chips…
General despair: quite a bit