Thursday, 19 March 2009

Harrow, Harrow, we are the Tooting boys!

Harrow Borough 0-0 Tooting and Mitcham (21:03:09)

Despite only being 17 miles apart this match is not seen as a local derby by either side. With this being London Town, there are umpty thrumpty grounds in between the two clubs. Tooting and Mitcham - let's call them The Terrors for now - have Carshalton Athletic, Sutton United, AFC Wimbledon and Kingstonian all within a gnats crotchet of their splendid Imperial Fields Stadium. However, none of those come remotely close to Dulwich Hamlet in terms of rivalry. There has been a bit of bad blood between those two over the years due to incidents on the field and a dislike of each other off it.

Cynical Dave, Big Deaks and I decided to become day members of the Tooting Popular Front and follow The Terrors on their travels to the Earlsmead Stadium in this Isthmian League Premier Division encounter. We didn't really need an excuse as to why but the fact that they once knocked Swindon out of the FA Cup - in 1975/76 season - by two goals to one - provided us with one.

I say 'Tooting Popular Front' - something their fans are probably sick of lazy hacks referring to - however, the T&M hardcore are actually and if you would factually known as the 'Bog End Army'. They're famed for their outrageous goal celebrations and named after a their infamous 'bog' at their much loved old ground at Sandy Lane. Power to the People indeed (that's enough - Ed).

Discovering non-league football to us here at European Football Weekends has been like finding God. In short, we've become obsessed. If that seems a bit over stated then sue us, we'd win. To us Harrow Borough v Tooting and Mitcham was set to be the biggest face off since Michael Jackson found his nose in his hanky.

To kick off our day we'd arranged to meet a group of our friends from Belgium - who follow Royal Antwerp - in a pub in Shepherd's Bush, as you do. They were in town to see QPR v Bristol City. For a nano-second the three of us had considered accompanying them to Loftus Road but then we remembered our recent grass (not artificial) roots obsession. Why pay £30 (+ £3.50 booking fee) to see QPR when for less than a third of the price you can have upwards of two thirds more fun!?

Our pals from Royal Antwerp: Stefan, Pieter, Jordi and Roland.

Two pints were downed in the Central Bar and another 'one for the road' in The Green. With QPR playing at home, The Green was a 'members only' bar for the day. We negotiated our way in though with a secret password. Don't tell anyone but that password was "We're with the Belgians". After that we were soon on our jolly way to the Earlsmead Stadium, home to The Boro. Not before Cynical could restore some colour to his face though by having a (losing, three out of four though Danny, so unlucky, same story every week) bet in William Hills.

With it being hotter than Greece, we were forced to have another couple of nice cold pints before the match. We holed up in the Jim Rogers bar at the ground and got chatting with the locals. Tony Venus and Andy Turner gave us a potted history of the club. I don't think they've ever really fully recovered from the semi final defeat Harrow suffered at the hands of Telford United in the FA Trophy during the 1982/83 season. Harrowing.

By now the 'Bog End Army' had arrived in numbers. We got talking to a number of them including the leader of the pack 'Bog End Tim'. They were a great bunch, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and thirsty for a few beers. Why not!?

Andy Turner. Stadium announcer. Awfully nice chap and winner of the best seat in the house award.

Silverware, silverware, our trophy cabinet's not bare.

Big Deaks at the turnstiles.

The Bog End Army - vocal throughout.

The match itself - lets be honest here - wasn't the greatest. It was too hot for any meaningful football. The visitors did have a few players that stood out though. Billy Marshall - who looks like an extra from Quadrophenia - did some sterling work down the right hand side. Aaron Goode lived up to his name as well but my man of the match was Terrors skipper Allan 'Sully' Mcleod. Nothing went past Sully all day. A touch of class. Different gravy Sully lad. Five FIFA stars to you me old mate.

On the head - Billy Marshall in action.

Harrow defenders keep 15 goal Paul Vines quiet (for once).

Here's here, he's there, he's every chuffing where. Billy Marshall, Billy Marshall.

The Terrors gaffer.

Harrow to you. Two (two!) stands. Fancy.

After the game our shoulders slumped at the prospect of a 30 minute walk back to Northolt Tube Station. This is when our old mate Bob stepped in to save our day. We'd chatted to Bob earlier in the bar. Bob pulled up in his car and near insisted he gave us all a lift back to the station. This is the non-league remember - stuff like this just happens. Good old stuff.

So that was it. 0-0 and both teams look set to remain in the Ryman Premier League next season. The closest we did get to a goal came late on when Harrow hit the bar. Hitting the bar in fact seemed like a splendid idea. There's no better place to do that than back at EFW HQ in Brighton and that's where we ended up drinking Guinness and talking (more) nonsense long into the night. Cheers!

EFW Man of the Match - Allan 'Sully' Mcleod.

Harrow Borough boss David Howell. The best in the non-league according to Tony Venus in the bar before the match.

Tooting and Mitcham boss Billy Smith - full (EFW) house - Yeeeees!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

some great pictures (1).