And so to Dartford

It is, as they say, “a funny old game.”

A grey, rainy, cold and windy day meant Dartford away for the mighty Saints. Nothing funny about the weather accompanying the game and nothing funny about the actual 90 minutes bit either. It wasn’t even mildly funny, never mind rib-ticklingly-amusing. There was no irony, there were no twists and turns. It was what it was. And what is was; was pants. The pitch was like a sandy beach complete with, dare I say it a few lurking donkeys, an opposition goalie in an ill-fitting kit in a very bad shade of candy-floss pink was cause for minor amusement but the football was as attractive as a beached whale (not that I find the current washed up whale predicament funny you understand – I’m just trying to keep the seaside theme going) and the referee’s performance, like a stick of rock had ‘bit rubbish’, written all the way through it (and there my tolerant reader we will abandon the ill thought out seaside riff).

More accurately what thy should be saying at the moment is, “it was a fun & funny old game on Satday, apart from the 90 minutes on the pitch”

First off it was a road trip! Technically I am not sure that the short hop to Dartford counts as a road trip. But it is a long while since I have been by road to an away game and so I was being a little bit excited when Julie arrived to pick me up (door to door service no less). TIP – should you ever have an over-excited TLF cluttering up your car, drive over the Dartford Crossing – turns out TLFs do not like heights…especially 4 lane heights over rivers. The TLF will shut up and focus their attention on the road trip snackage (limited due to healthy eating commitment by driver which TLF was doing best to honour – one packet of biscuits, one pack of Maltesers and some mixed nuts & raisins representing a very restrained TLF selection), while keeping their eyes very firmly fixed on the horizon.

It was also a game dripping with green credentials. Built in 2006, Princes Park is probably the most environmentally friendly ground in the UK.
FACT! It has solar panels.
FACT! It collects rain water for use in the ground.
FACT! The pitch is set at a slightly lower level to reduce light and noise pollution.
FACT! Possibly the bestest non-league loos I have seen. Actually no, just the best football ground loos EVER.

OK, so technically that last FACT! is not overly environmental but the state of the facilities does tend to be higher on my list of priorities for a good day out than green credentials. And yes come the great flood, defrosting of North & South Poles and the end of days then I will realise the error of my ways and wish I had focussed more on the green credentials than the state of the little TLF’s room.

That is the joy of a new ground generally though; things are quite shiny and sometimes quite…wait for it…fan focussed! Some might argue it has less character and wotnot (it does have a wooden man holding up one of the stands and if that isn’t character I don’t know what is) but you can’t knock a spacious, warm and welcoming clubhouse with a well-stocked bar and big tables to claim some Saints territory with. And of course I could have been in a shed really providing it allowed us to watch the Lesta fairy tale carry on for another week; don’t know how long it will last but TLF is enjoying the visit to Ranieri Dreamland while it lasts. I like to think that my traditional ‘get-in-come-on-YESSSS’ second goal celebratory gig (kind of forgot I wasn’t in my own living room), my jaw-dropping disbelief at Lesta’s third goal and then my usual glass half-empty (yep another pint please Julie!) frenzied arm waving, panic at every Man City attack and demands for the comfort of a five goal cushion provided at least a modicum of pre-match entertainment for the occupants of the bar. Fellow Saints supporters who are used to it and understand the madness presumably prevented any worried Darts fans from calling the local constabulary.

Who would have foreseen however that there were even more delights awaiting TLF as we braved the cold for kick off? An Aladdin’s cave of a purpose built snack bar, festooned with a most excellent variety of deep fried loveliness – although the they might want to risk assess their menu. Describing a sausage in a baguette as a sausage roll and then doing the same with your more traditional flaky pastry variety of sausage roll is asking for trouble or at the very least confusion at the counter.

And finally the piece de resistance in the funny accompaniments to this disappointing old game was the opposition’s firm. Sent to taunt us were 3 small boys, with their Adidas man bags, their chubby cheeks, their Chelsea & Arsenal shirts (I did want to tell them my team were above theirs but I played the magnanimous TLF) and their squeaky voices. The tallest (I use the word loosely) caused great hilarity as he turned round to the Saints fans, waving his arms and with the exhortation and sneer that only a 10 year old can manage, goaded us with “COME ON THENNNNN!!”

Mind you his team isn’t propping up the Conference South so we all know who had the last laugh don’t we?

It is

Funny old Fox

Match Stats
Dartford 0 St Albans 2
Attendance: 931
Alcohol consumed: 3.5 pints Heineken (it was quite a big day)
Snackage: small packet Pringles (BBQ flavour), 1 ginger cookie, mixed nuts and raisins (surely one of my 5 a day?) one sausage roll BAGUETTE!!
Unpleasant encounters with a high bridge over a river: one too many

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