Cheshunt? Chesham? Cestrehunt?
Home against Cheshunt. Not a place I know. I thought it was where a kid I disliked in college was from, but he was from Chesham. I’m not sure if the two places are related, and I’m certainly not interested to find out. Right- some facts about Cheshunt. It is outside the M25. Recorded in the Domesday book (giant hardcopy Wikipedia of places in England) as “Cestrehunt”, meaning “castle, erected by the Romans”. Tooting has a Castle, erected by Youngs Brewery. Let’s call that an historical score draw. Famous people to hail from there include pensioners pin-up Cliff Richard, and footballers David Bentley and Ryan Mason. The latter has become an intelligent pundit, the former, one imagines, still spends his days giggling at the Youtube video of him dumping a bucket of water on Harry Redknapp’s head. To be absolutely honest, if I had Bentley’s money that’s exactly how I’d be spending my time. That, and the goal against Arsenal is a pretty decent highlight reel for a lad whose career didn’t live up to the early shouts of “the next David Beckham”.
Shouts of “the next…” always end in abject failure. Walcott was the next Michael Owen, Frimpong the next Vieira. At Tooting, I’m personally hoping for the next Billy Dunn. In fact, I’d be happy with the previous Billy Dunn. “Next” for Billy Dunn was, however, generally at a Pizza Hut buffet, one suspects. He was a hell of a goalscorer in his pomp, which was when I started going to see Tooting back in 2016. We have a couple of fellas capable of hitting the net regularly, with Danny and Hady especially, but it’s definitely encouraging to see new signing David Carty hit the ground running.
And so to the match. A strong eleven, even without the menacing presence of Daryl Coleman, who enjoyed the first of his five match ban with a pint in the stands. A new goalie called Wady as well, a young American chap on loan from Chelsea, dontcha know. I’m sure he was delighted to see the Cheshunt team line up with a centre forward with the physical presence of a well-fed Peter Crouch. Immediately, Eddie Dines adopted the sweeper role. Lexus and Simmo charged with challenging the big lad, allowing Eddie to help clear up the knock downs and flick ons. From my seat, I was convinced he was shite, that forward, but better pundits than I suggested he had a good touch for a big man. That old trope is trotted out rather a lot. True though, in some cases. In other cases, Nikola Zigic.
The centre forward scored, of course. From memory, it’s possible that another ‘keeper may have been slightly quicker to come out than our lad Wady, but we can all be forgiven for misjudging the pace on the big lad. I think there was a brief post mortem between defenders and goalie, but this stuff happens.
Our reposte was immediate, incisive and a pleasure to watch. Our right full back, AJ, scorched the earth on the right wing, beating a couple of players and teeing up Danny Bassett to score the latest of a profitable campaign.
Half time. Pint of Guinness, chips and jerk sauce. The Guinness in the club house is really decent- and I’m exactly the man to ask about it. As an Irishman, it’s my heritage. Chips are potatoes, also part of my heritage. Also delicious. A conflab with some of the Bog End faithful at half time and the consensus is reasonably positive. My mate Conor, on debut at Imperial Fields, is full of praise for the jerk chicken.
In the second half, they brought on a lad who looked like Zelda. Honestly, standing next to their tall centre forward, he came up to about his chest. The “big guy/little guy” chestnut made flesh. Flesh, and pixelated graphics from early 90s Nintendo. I went for a piss and Zelda scored. Of course he bloody did. Apparently he did a backflip too. That’ll teach me.
We probably had a couple more chances, but the Guinness had properly begun to bloom after that, so I don’t remember anything specific. It’s not that interesting now anyway. It was a loss, a narrow loss, but a loss none the less. Loss. If I’m honest with myself, and with you- imagined reader- I think our slight chances of a playoff place have been eroded further still. We need a lot of results to go our way, as well as winning all our own games. It seems unlikely. The large crumb of comfort, the entire tiger bread loaf of comfort, rather, is that we continue in the Surrey Senior Cup, with an eminently winnable (and therefore utterly losable) semi-final away to Banstead. A good cup run and absolute safety in the division feels a far cry from where we were in October/November, when some of the support were petrified of consecutive relegations. That will not happen. We are better than some of the teams above us. This season was always going to be about hitting the “reset” button. We go again.