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The Drinks are on us!
The Drinks are on us!

Happier Days - Part 2

By: Chris Smith
Date: 01/09/2010 (Last updated: 17/01/2012)

A GOALLESS draw was played out the following week at Birmingham City, one of the few sets of fans I have no time for. It was then a weekend off as Town played Orient at home but I wasn't going to miss the Stoke City game. Stoke were pre-season favourites for promotion but weren't anywhere near us. It was an easy win for Town as Tommy Watson and Gary Childs scored against an atmosphere of simmering violence.

Without trying to glorify anything, I'd have to add that the post match battle on the pitch was quite spectacular and made events at our last away game quite predictable.

Our most eagerly awaited day out for the London Mariners was Exeter away. We all had Network South East railcards and each year we'd get vouchers for anywhere in the network at a fiver. Strangely enough, Exeter via Waterloo came within this so we booked ourselves on the half nine train. Six or so Mariners fans were on a train absolutely packed with train spotters. We looked on bemused as the train went through a tunnel and an enthusiast recorded the event whilst a door width away a Town fan would be groaning goodbye to the previous night’s atrocities. I'd love to know if that made the recording…

It was the anoraks’ turn to be bemused as we demolished our supplies of Scrumpy Jack, Stella et al whilst “enjoying” card games in which forthright opinions were vigorously made. The train was then delayed at Yeovil Junction to allow another along the single track. Never fans to miss an opportunity, we purchased all the cans at the station bar before getting back on the train. Every last one.

The game itself was a 0 0 draw, with the highlight being ex Town player Gordon Hobson missing a penalty. This was the signal for our banter at the home supporters to become a bit more intense and the diversity of carrot crunchers was certainly not celebrated as they say in PC parlance. Sadly, it was hardly a surprise for a large number of locals to introduce themselves as we made our way up their High Street. Not that we let it tarnish a good day out although retribution was considered for the last game of the season. The Hole in the Wall at Waterloo was the last port of call and a personal favourite of mine for the choice of five ciders. You could start on Woodpecker at lunchtime for a quick anti-hangover sugar rush before graduating four pints later onto Scrumpy Jack. You'd also get a good mix of other fans and no trouble.

Hazy memories but I think we did Tranmere with Gary B driving up from North London. This produced another 2 1 win before league hostilities were interrupted for Blackpool away in the FA Cup. This would be another B&B trip.

Town were terrible and lost 2 0. The weather was terrible and I'd never go back. A gale set off every burglar alarm that night and as I was working the following night, I managed 48 hours without any shuteye. Some drunken lads sang the Bohemian Rhapsody all the way through the game to alleviate the tedium on the soaking terrace.

After two home games where we lost to Bolton and beat Mansfield, I was back on duty at Southend. This ground held fantastic memories from the previous season when a 2 0 win all but ensured promotion and I met up with Tony in nearby Basildon where he was living at the time. Basildon is proof that 1960s architects must have had bad trips on LSD when they dreamt the place up as it is uninspiring although the Roof Garden and Towngate pubs were worth a visit (Dry Blackthorn in the latter if my brain cell remembers correctly). A short hop on the train to Sarfend and a drink with other London Mariners ensued before a game with rival pacesetters.

Sadly, this would be a disappointment with Town going down 2 0. Oddly enough. Town, Southend and Cambridge (who had all been promoted the season before) would fill the three automatic spots at the season end.

I managed to miss Bournemouth at home and the biggest win of the season, a 5 0 win. This seems to be the start of a pattern that has marred the last twenty years. I didn't go to Reading on Boxing Day, and an early kick off, as I had a rare Christmas off work. In fact it remains the last week I haven't worked most of it. Apparently it chucked it down there and we were laughingly trapped in Littlefield’s (where we were listening to the game) by horizontal rain.

The article continues in Part 3

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