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