Two games in. Two defeats. No goals scored. Not the best possible start to the season, especially as the most recent defeat came in a game played against 10 men for over 80 minutes. But it is early days. No need to panic. But not a time to gloss over things either.
It seems that my last post following the defeat v Merthyr sparked a bit of reaction, many people contacting me saying that they share my feelings, some saying “ooh, you upset a few people…but you’re right!” and others, totally understandably, sticking up for the club and defending some of the points raised. It’s a game of opinions.
Just to clarify at this stage, to me, this website is a modern day fanzine – A supporters view of the football club. It will differ from those within the club, of course it will, that is what football is all about and if there is any club where everyone has the same opinion then it is probably just bobbing along on the water not really going anywhere. Over the years I will literally have written millions of words about Chesham United in fanzines, programmes, blog sites, minutes, newsletters, emails…I love writing, and I love writing about Chesham United, and, let’s be frank, if it was all champagne and roses it would all get a little bit dull.
So, Tuesday night, having left The Meadow on Saturday deciding that I really couldn’t face going to the next game, I was picking my Dad and son up and we were bombing around the M25 on our way to play Metropolitan Police in the Esher area, just inside the M25. True Isthmian League territory. As it happened, the M25 was not bad for rush hour time, turning off to go down the M3, within ten miles of our destination I looked at Dad and said, “Blimey, even by our standards we are going to be a bit early for this one!“.
It was only 5.45pm. 10 minutes later we were within 3 miles of the ground. ONE HOUR later we were within 1 mile of the ground. I’m not the most patient person in traffic and the journey around by Hampton Court was ludicrously slow as we creeped forward a couple of inches every few minutes. Dad kept getting out of the car and walking ahead to see if he could see a problem, but it was as far as the eye could see.
Eventually we arrived at the roadwork traffic lights that had caused all the problems, and it was the smallest of holes in the road that you could possibly imagine – Seriously! We arrived at the ground close to 7.00pm and found our way around the very strange set-up that is Imber Court, entering what looks like a hotel reception area before finding the bar area and eventually following the path through some gardens to the turnstile that takes you into the ground.
I had been to Imber Court once before. Funny enough earlier in the day I took a call from Ed Bartlett who used to run the supporters’ coaches to away matches when I was a young whipper-snapper and we concluded that it must have been something like the 1990-91 season when we went away to Metropolitan Police for a midweek game. Nearly 30 years later, here I was again, with my 14 year old son and Dad. I can’t say I recognised the place much, but it was in good shape, very tidy, huge cover behind one goal and a half decent main stand. Not a lot else. Not a lot of sponsorship. Not a lot of home fans, but then again, who would grow up and decide to become a fan of Metropolitan Police FC?
Chesham had made a number of changes to the team that capitulated against Merthyr on Saturday. As we ordered our burger and enjoyed the conversation with the tea ladies discussing why they don’t sell chips, we were optimistic that Saturday could be consigned to history, and the season would kick start from here.
I won’t go into great detail on the game as I don’t want this site to become a match report, but fair to say we started the game lively again, looking the better team for the first ten minutes. A rash challenge by a Met Police player led to a red card, it surprised a few, but with over 75 minutes to go, the opposition down to ten men, and Chesham already looking the better team, we had cause to be optimistic.
I don’t know what it is about Chesham playing against ten men, but yet again we just completely lost our way. We struggled to create any real chances, and when we did come close to creating a chance, we never actually looked like scoring it. Met Police scored soon after the sending off and spent the rest of the game defending superbly, threatening on the break, but on the whole frustrating a Chesham side that looked to lack the creativity to break down the opposition.
As the game came close to its conclusion there were endless balls into the box, goalmouth scrambles, desperate clearances…but you never really thought we would score. And we didn’t. The game was lost 1-0. At the risk of sounding critical, it was a pretty pitiful display, and credit to Darren Locke who came straight over to the handful of travelling fans to apologise for what he agreed was a poor performace. Good, honest, transparent respect for the fans that had made the effort to travel to the away game.
So we left the ground, dejected once again. A horrible two-hour journey there to watch that in a crowd that must have been less than 100, with no chips at the tea bar…It’s the kind of game that I always say you need to experience to appreciate the good ones.
Fortunately the journey home was much better, even dropping Dad back in Chesham on the way we were back in Boxmoor within the hour. The car journey home was pretty quiet again, other than the odd comment: “Not sure I can face Staines on Saturday.” Staines look as though they have a long season ahead of them, two fairly heavy defeats so far keeping us off the bottom of the league – A bit too early to call it a relegation 6-pointer, but we must be looking at this game for our first goals and points of the season.
As the final whistle went I gave serious thought to perhaps going to the Bedford v Saracens pre-season friendly instead on Saturday, but as time passes, Staines is more likely to be the destination of choice…another ground I have been to several times, but not since I was a student living in Putney when the train journey was really quick and easy. This time it will have to be the M25 again, let’s hope for a clear run and the proper start of the new season…all be it a week later than everyone else.