SATURDAY NOVEMBER 30
Egham Town 1 St Ives Town 2
PENCILMAN’S driving, so it is inevitable that The Fox, Aged P and myself are dragged to Egham Town of the Calor Southern League Central Division being as it completes the division for him. It is hard to explain to non-groundhoppers just how exciting such an occasion is for us travellers.
The M25 is as docile as a sleeping puppy today and I arrive at the Runnymede Stadium 80 minutes before kick-off. St. Ives fans are already installed in the bar and having a lively sing-along to Mr Blue Sky, Is This the Way to Amarillo, etc.
After promotion last year, this lot obviously don’t mind passing many Ryman grounds on their way to this Southern League venue even though it is the same Step in the Pyramid. One has to wonder at the FA’s logic sometimes.
I am warmly greeted at the gate: “Awright, Geezer?” I am pleasantly surprised to be only charged £6 and another £1 for the programme, whereas my recent trip to Godalming at the same level cost me £9 and £2! Apparently, the Chairman of Egham didn’t want to raise prices straight away after last season’s promotion. Now that’s what I call a Diamond Geezer!
I really like the ground. Despite many cubbyholes full of building rubbish, rusting equipment, composting grass clippings, etc. there is oodles of cover for the fans around the perimeter. This place exudes ramshackle charm.
Parakeets screech over at regular intervals. An Asian species now established in London, the story goes that Jimi Hendix was so bored with the leaden capital in the 60s that he had some of these exotic birds released to brighten up the place!
And then there’s the personal touch. Waiter service of my freshly-made burger to the terraces from the extremely pleasant lady at the tea bar, befitting of a top restaurant. Now there’s service for you.
The game itself is difficult to assess. Two evenly-matched sides slug it out in midfield. There are some very scrappy periods and some decent bouts of football but there is far too little goalmouth action for my taste. Aged P and Pencilman think it is a thriller, which is a sure indication that all is not as stimulating as it should be.
After taking the lead, Egham collapse and allow Ives to take control. The home attackers are guilty of two close range misses that make the famous Ronnie Rosenthal gaffe seem unlucky. One culprit proceeds to berate the officials over every throw-in and corner decision as if they affected the result more than his own Grandma-could-have-scored-it-with-her-zimmer-frame miss.
On the journey home, Aged P amuses us all with his succinct summation of popular music: The Beatles are crap but Olly Murs is good. There really is no coming back from that!
Ticket value 4.5, Programme 3, Food 3, Bar 3, Toilets 1, Atmosphere 3, Match 3, Overall: 3