Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Nutty's 50th Manelanders Invasion Special

What a wonderful weekend it was (and as thoroughly expected, a somewhat boozy one) as Hersden's very own shy & retiring wallflower & a handful of Manelanders celebrated his big 50.

Friday night saw Nutty, Mr Diggler & I meeting up at Gatwick's North Terminal Premier Inn. I duly baggsied the single bed, with Nutty having the dubious honour of sharing a bed with the Diggling Stick. We headed onto the transit to the South Terminal and found the land side 'Spoons, The Beehive, where the first weekend of their real ale festival was underway. Marvellous, as Lord O would say and who was sadly absent and missed on this trip.

Burgers and several pints of the festival ales were consumed, including a rather fine Norwegian stout. We also learned interestingly that Diggler "never says thanks" in certain situations. Read into that what you will.

After just a few hours of sleep, we made our way bleary eyed to our 8.30 departure on everyone's favourite monopoly owning airline.

The flight was, in all fairness, pretty damn quick and before I'd even had chance to read all the sports pages in the paper, we'd touched down on the rock. There we were met by Mother Ormer, who very kindly offered to collect us and take us to our accommodation for the night; The Yacht Inn on the seafront, just a seagull's caw from Castle Cornet. Literally seconds after pulling up, we were met by our other roomee for the night, Tony Leighton, who'd just arrived on the Condor. After dropping our bags off, we joined Tone in the Harbour Lights for some "breakfast", and ran into Lil Craig, whose phone camera had not as promised been retired for the weekend, much to our chagrin. We then strolled up to the White Rock CafĂ© for a proper, more stomach lining full English, with black pudding, which was rather excellent and hit the spot. Incidentally, Diggler & I had consumed our traditional "breakfast" at Wetherspoons at 7am back at Gatwick; another pint of the Norwegian stout, Nordic Noir. My head was beginning to pay for the previous evening's excesses.

After Tony had chatted to half of the locals in the cafe (we found out he knows everyone in Guernsey), we had a swifty in The White Hart before jumping in Sally's Taxi up to the Doghouse, where we had planned to meet up with a few others. The ale there was completely undrinkable, so we didn't hang around long and made a relatively early departure, arriving at the ARS an hour before kick off (unbelievable scenes!)

En route, we were jumped on by Emma David and having been kindly provided with free entry (Thanks again Sticks), we bought a couple of 50-50 tickets from Darryl and Nigel B and grabbed a buckshee programme from Fran Torode, before heading up to the bar in the Garenne for more drinks and chats. Shortly after this, we bumped into Ermin and Sticks who told us to follow them down into the deepest depths of their ARS. There we were led to the changing rooms and were lucky enough to be welcomed in for a look around and a chat with Tony Vance. 

After a quick stroll pitch side, a chat with the Grahams and a beer more, it was time to head behind the goal for the match. Here a motley crew assembled - Manelanders, friends & family (including my cuz, Dom) and somewhat surprisingly a whole pack of directors, including the DC, which chuffed the birthday boy.

As for the first half, well the most entertaining thing was a certain Bosnian director telling Chipstead's Serb keeper to go forth & multiply in their own language. Steve Sharman asserted the following morning that it was "worse than garbage" and it really was - Chipstead had acquired a new coach and 8 new players and looked far from a team who had only earned 2 points all season, as they knocked it around the clueless Green Lions, who were unable to string two passes together. The Chips went in a goal up having converted a penalty early on. At this point, I was beginning to get a little worried - in a moment of silliness the previous evening I had stated "if we lose tomorrow I'll jump stark bollock naked in the Bathing Pools". A dip was looking a distinct possibility until the second half turn around. Thanks to Bungo and Luke Winch, who came on at half time, the game completely turned - the pair of them were, quite frankly, excellent and offered pace & threat from the moment they came on, Winchy earning a penalty within the opening 10 mins or so, resplendent in his brand new lime green boots. Unfortunately, Rossco had left his beige clown shoes on (see attached pic) and skied the pen. Thankfully Winchy saved the day storming down the right wing and smashing a 25 yard first time shot into the postage stamp in the top corner - a truly stunning strike which behind the goal looked like it had hit the side netting. Just a few minutes later, he hit another beautiful curling free kick from outside the area into the bottom corner of the net to wrap up the points and save me from a swim. Relief was definitely the overriding emotion at the final whistle.

At half time, Nutty and Deb (aka Nibbler) had been invited onto the pitch to do the 50/50 draw and here Nutty was presented with a Nutty 50 emblazoned GFC away shirt by Dave "Pedders" Rihoy, paid for by the GFC players.

Post-match, more beers ensued (and a cake for Nutty presented by Man of the Match Winchy), before a stroll back to the Kennel where we were joined by a few of the players, and the great and the good, like Penfold, Scott Fusellier and Sticks.  

A few of us headed back to the hotel and then met up for a feed at the Pickled Pig, where Dawn Thomas had kindly agreed to catch up with us, despite only returning from Spain that evening. It was great to see her and we told her about our own tribute that afternoon, a rousing rendition of "One Mikey Thomas". The evening was splendid and turned into a crawl and later a bit of a jog.

The following morning, after a leisurely breakfast at the Yacht, we were picked up by Sticks who very kindly took us Manelanders and my cousin, Dom for a cup of tea at his lovely gaff and a chat with his brother, Le God, who had flown over for his mum's Sunday roast. What a lovely way to end a superb weekend and what a top, down to earth chap he was - not fussed one iota by our presence or our gormless questions. Dom, being a big Saints fan, was over the moon to meet hero.

Even a two and a half hour delay to our flight home couldn't dampen what had been a truly tremendous weekend, where we had been welcomed and treated like royalty and Nutty had had a birthday that he'll never forget.

You Fill Up My Senses.....

With less than 24 hours or, as some of the more disturbing among us would say, one more sleep until our latest joint creaking journey throu...