|Fleet Town F.C. AKA Punk Rock Town.|
Or will I?
Match number eight, and my first trip to the north-east of the county...
|Recommended - a pre-match stroll along the nearby canal towpath.|
Fleet Town FC (0) 0 v 2 (1) Metropolitan Police FC
Saturday April 9th 2011.
Ryman Isthmian League Division One South.
Entrance price: £8
Club shop: Yes, sells all sorts of Fleet Town memorabilia.
National grid reference: SU8053
Subbuteo colours:163 v 244
|At half-time, we were all hot, shaggy dogs.|
My pre-match study of the history of Fleet Town didn't unearth too many quirky facts, other than it seems as though ex-Prime Minister Clement Attlee once played for them. The most famous quote about Attlee was by Winston Churchill, who said that he was "a modest man, with much to be modest about", which is apt, as Fleet have always been a modest club. Only recently have they risen to their current position of respectability at Step 4 of the non-league pyramid. They occupy a mid-table position in the Ryman (Isthmian) League First Division South. They are the only Hampshire club in that league. If the rumours on the Non-League Matters forum are to be believed, they will be leaving to join the Southern League next season - making this the last chance for me to see an Isthmian League game.
|The Met always seemed to have more players on the pitch.|
The Met are funded by a force-wide lottery, and apparently very few of them are actually coppers (although they did used to be a police-only team). They play their home games at [strikethrough]999 Letsby Avenue[/strikethrough] Imber Court in Molesey, SW London.
|Spot the ball! The park behind the dugouts was alive with squirrels.|
It was too hot to play football, but the match had to go on. Cruelly, Fleet had to kick uphill in the first half - and boy, there's quite a slope at Calthorpe Park - it must have been like riding up the Mont Ventoux on a particularly hot day in the Tour de France for any half-fit players out there. By the time they reached the goal at the mountain peak, the Fleet players were too tired to shoot effectively. Thus, the Met were able to grind them down, eventually nicking a goal just before half-time, the ball seeming to pick up speed as it careered downhill towards the Fleet goal. Whoosh! 1-0 at the interval.
|Blimey! A proper photographer!|
Neither of those things happened. Instead, the entire crowd of 249 flopped down on the grass as one, tongues out, panting like a lethargic pack of shaggy dogs. And we listened to music - not to the Fleet Foxes, thank chuff - nor to any other boring, beard-stroking hippy tripe - nope, we were entertained by HALF-TIME PUNK ROCK!
Punk rock! Ska! Mod classics! Buzzcocks! Desmond Dekker! The Who! Get in there!
And when the punk rock was all over, it was time for the second half...
|A rare attack for Fleet Town. Keeper's ball!|
The second goal came from a Rory Delap-style throw-in. The long throw of the law, if you like, rather than the long arm of the law. Throw, scramble, panic, scuff, goal - all very Stoke City, and all over with half an hour still to play.
So, a hot day in a neat stadium, followed by a dawdle back to the car along the canal towpath.
I wanted to finish off with a rhyming couplet - some appropriate words to describe Fleet - but it's not very punk.
Oh, I'll do it anyway:
"If it's tidy and neat, it must be Fleet".
If I could have thought of an appropriate rhyme for pleasant (something other than pheasant), I could have had a classic poem to sign off with...
Incidentally, the photos taken by "the proper photographer" can be found here!
Next time: My final game of the season.