Thursday, 19 September 2019

Fortuna, Football and Fawcets

The best laid plans and all that. As last weekend approached, another opportunity to get a game on the table was dangled in front of me. I'd spent some time reducing the orders of battle in Adair's book on Cheriton into something suitable for the table top. Just the odd chore or two for Saturday morning  then I could cover the table with DVD hills and green baize. I even fantasised briefly about dismantling the dining room table and setting it up in the living room (south facing, much more light). Or even in the back garden! The weather was set to be dry and windless all weekend. Brilliant: the garden table could provide a bit more depth to the battlefield.

The list of chores grew a little, as the the tap unit on the kitchen sink finally needs replacement. I reckon I could do that, thought I. It's not rocket science. Those of you familiar with the classical myths will have already spotted that Fate was toying with me. Bellona et Fortuna indeed! To a certain extent I was happy to play along with her. By the time I got back from Wickes and had some late lunch I thought I would not have time to get the game completed by the time Mrs Nundanket came home from work. Whilst coming back I saw people on the way to Kingsmeadow. AFC Wimbledon were playing at home (I'd spotted a couple of Shrewsbury shirts in town) and I haven't been to a game so far this season. The early season fixture list hasn't fallen kindly for us southern based exiled Mariners. 'Hmm, not a bad way to kill an hour or three until the love of my life comes home. I'm not going to get any gaming done today now so...'. So off I tootled to the match and found out why Wimbledon are rooted to the wrong end of the Third Division.

I've got a bit of A Soft Spot for AFCW, mainly on 'political' grounds*. I'd been happy to encourage my son to go along with his mates when he was a teenager. For one, the ground is walkable. Season tickets for kids were cheap, and a bunch of them would go to the home games together. When older they went on away trips and had a ''right larf". All good stuff. Part of growing up. I also had a cunning motivation behind encouraging my son to follow a club other than Grimsby Town [fill in your own joke about child cruelty].

I will never forget the time I went to see AFC Wimbledon's first ever game - a pre-season friendly, when over 4000 turned up to watch a scratch Wimbledon side get well and trully beaten by Sutton United. Many in the crowd were, like me, fans of other clubs their to show solidarity because of the circumstances of the club's foundation after the old Wimbledon FC had been 'franchised' and allowed to move to Milton Keynes. In my experience the oaccasions when the hairs on the back of my neck literally did stand on end are few and far between. This was one of them.  The newly formed club had held open trials on Wimbledon Common for anyone who fancied their chances. The game at Sutton came a few days later. I'd read about the foundation of our famous football clubs back in the distant days of Queen Victoria, but this was it being played out in front of our eyes, but with the benefit of an already formed, passionate fanbase. Heady stuff.

The area we live in is Chelsea country. You get the odd Fulhamite, but you're much more likely to see royal blue on replica football shirts than even ManUtd/Arsenal red or Spurs white. 'I'm not having that', I thought, 'if he's going to support a London club I'll give him a gentle steer towards someone I'd be happy to go to as well. And by comparison Grimsby will seem good.' I also justified it on the grounds that it will also be character-building for him. This was at the time when Wimbledon were still 3 or so promotions from a return to the Football League and Town were 'on loan' to the fourth Division having had two successive relegations from what is laughingly called the Championship these days.

Whilst the operational aspects went badly awry (we briefly rubbed shoulders with Wimbledon in the National League when they were on the way up and we had FIVE more seasons down there) the grand strategy worked perfectly. In fact at times I worry that I have created a monster. So Son trots off to Town games in the NW from his Liverpool base (where he is doing a BSc in Colouring-in). Saturday was one of those days. Oldham Athletic. They're another Lancashire club in a financial mess, haven't won in seven (we don't count the B-Team cup win against Liverpool's kids), whilst Town were the division's top scorers, top 6 etc.....Unsurprisingly I got a message from Son saying Oldham had just scored. Then again half way through the second half, ping, two-nil down. 10 minutes to go, 2-1. Game on. Nail biter. I distracted myself by sending the lad updates from the Wimbledon game. 90 minutes. Ping! '2-2! Bedlam!!' Took me a second or two to work out we hadn't signed a player called Bedlam. Good ending then. And the Wimbledon result? 1-1.

Saturday was wasted then, in wargaming terms. Sunday! Another hot and sunny day. Household chores then time to do the kitchen tap unit. Stopcock off. Taps running. Ah! Need a new adjustable spanner. Checked with Lincolnshire Tom (another Mariner exiled to the same postcode area). Yep. He has a selection of suitable tools. Turn off taps and stopcock on so daughter can use the bathroom. Sprayed the tight nuts with WD40 and let it soak in while I went to Tom's. Ended up having a good 'yarn'. Time to get moving. Car engine fan whirring. Coolant VERY low. Stop off to get some coolant. Stop off to get some bits from Aldi. Home. 'Oh cripes' water dripping from stopcock and all over kitchen unit and floor (don't ask, it's in a daft place). Manage to stop dripping. Clean up. Make sandwiches. Stopcock off and taps running again. And running. And running. Had snooze. Taps still running! Obviously something wrong with the stopcock too. Blast it. Time to start preparing dinner. Another day gone. Another weekend gone. And weekends are the key time for wargames for me, still being a wage slave.  By the time I've finished work/evening calls, been for a swim and eaten I don't feel up to setting up the table.

Eventually I admitted defeat and have called the professionals in to deal with the plumbing. Next weekend I will get Cheriton on the table.......

* For anyone unfamiliar with British football fan culture, it's universally considered the utmost bad form to switch allegiances from one club to another. Fundamentalists will even cry 'apostate' at anyone who admits to having a second club. But we live in a mobile society. People move around the country, or indeed the world, to pursue their careers and well, discover new things. They meet strange people, find they haven't got 2 heads and even go to watch the football with them. Over years, new attachements grow and one thing leads to another. Or the offspring of people exiled from their hometown [oh, that reminds me of the related unwritten law, erm written below**] will also potentially have allegiances to two (or more!) clubs. So the Elders got together and came up with the pragmatic notion of 'having a Soft Spot' for another club. "I support [insert name of big city club] because I was born there, but I have a soft spot for [insert name of Scottish club with romantic name] because my dad is from there". "I support Sunderland, that's where I'm from, but I have a soft spot for Dover Athletic. I spent many years working in Dover. Good set of lads. We used to go up to Crabble, have a few pints like. Bit of a laugh." This is an acceptable thing to admit to, though it does not preclude you being ribbed for it of course.

** If you support a club that you have no plausible connection to (i.e. immediate family connection), you are known as, to use the technical jargon, 'a glory hunting knob'. This rather assumes that we're talking about people supporting one of the really good teams Not those who select club's they have no 'real connection to because they like the sound of the name, or like the hooped shirts 'because they're different', or stuck a pin in the map, or picked whoever was bottom of the League the day they decided to buck the trend at school. Or they're from Scandinavia and picked an unfashionable English or Scottish club. Great suspicion will be heaped on someone from say, Northampton, supporting Manchester City. The person under suspicion will have to go to great lengths to demonstrate how long they have supported the Big Club and protest that they supported the Big Club "even when we were rubbish and didn't have a pot to piss in". The suspect will be careful to use the term 'we' and not 'they'. But he or she will still be muttered about by the Righteous as not a Proper Fan.


  1. Sorry to hear your tight nuts needed WD40! I would prescribe trousers that are more capacious as this may be the root of your problems. For the record I still keep up with the drain circling progress of the Kiddeminster Harriers. Go red and Lol.

    1. I'll keep setting em up. Little Ern to your Eric.

      One of my big regrets is never getting to a game at Kiddie. The pies are famed across the land. Better than anywhere in Lancashire according to the cognoscenti.

  2. Coming from North London and Totenham starting at the end of the garden,I and all my family are/were Arsenal supporters,I did briefly support Bolton Wanderers when Totenham went down to the second division and Bolton were the most anti Totenham team at that time. I used to have a soft spot for Man City but that was when they seemed to be heading out of the football league and I used to go and see Barnet mainly because their floodlights lit up my bedroom as a teenager! Nice analysis of secondary football teams and I would always get in a professional when plumbing is concerned!
    Best Iain

    1. Welcome Iain.

      I love that Bolton story. My enemy's enemy and all that. It's a good few years ago now, not that you'll let them forget eh?! How did you work out that Bolton were the most anti-Tottenham?