Home 1: Preconceived Ideas
As I jumped in the car at the ungodly hour of 5pm (Kickoff set for 7:45), I was half expecting us leaving so early so we had good time to get back to Imperial Fields just in case we ended up in Sutton, Carshalton or- god forbid- Dulwich, but thankfully after Saturday’s antics we ended up at the right ground! For those who don’t know, it’s surprisingly easy to read “Hertford Town” and think “Harlow Town” as my Dad (aka Hi-Vis Phil) demonstrated so elegantly on Saturday. Thankfully, it didn’t cost us a minute of football... just 40 odd quid for entrance to Harlow’s ground and the shameful 20 minute uber. Mercifully, we made the right decision as that game ended a 4-3 snoozefest in favour of Harlow in comparison to the riveting 1-0 win Tooting achieved. The early departure this time around, wasn’t to allow for geographical mistakes, instead there were new sponsorship signs to put up, and somebody has to do it...and by someone I mean my Dad, while I unhelpfully watch him lace cable ties around the flush new boards.
That wasn’t the end of my hard work, I gracefully lent Mr Adam Best a hand selling 50/50 tickets by doing what I do best... standing watching someone else do all the hard work! Although with the projection Besty has in his arsenal, I’m pretty sure everyone within a 2 mile radius of the ground had heard about the raffle!
Between watching Best at work and kick-off, I squeezed in a fan interview with Chris and Ed (I swear I recognise him from somewhere ;) ), who are creating a Tooting fan youtube channel, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for that! Without giving anything from the riveting interview away, I most certainly didn’t forget who we were about to play again, get interrupted by a rogue Tooting fan wandering in front of the camera and boldly predict Tooting to win the league this year. Although, as they always say “Shoot for the top of the table, even if you miss you’ll end up in the playoffs!”
Kickoff came on a carpet disguised as a football pitch, with a sunset of warm orange caressing the evening sky. Tooting flaunting their “Plum” kit (if I keep telling myself it’s plum, maybe one day I’ll believe it’s not pink) perhaps to show those who can’t make as many away games as they’d like how fabulous it looks, but more likely the home kit hasn’t arrived as of yet.
It didn’t take long until Tooting's football on the pitch matched the beauty of the night- on the 6th minute Danny Bassett got in behind on the left flank, and squared the ball on a sixpence for Hady Ghandour to tap it in. We looked sharp, playing some exquisite passes, with Daryl Coleman looking like a quarter-back, effortlessly moving the ball from flank to flank.
On the 28th minute, Ashford were presented with a glorious chance following a mistake from Sol, but as their number 9 Adjei took a heavy touch around Tooting’s keeper Shaw, Deano was flying back to make a marvellous tackle, with the ball going for a corner. Ashford did level the score from said corner on the 29th minute!
The scores were all square for the next 12 minutes, before another fantastic assist from Bassett saw the ball crossed into Castanho, who calmly headed it into the net. The halftime whistle went and brought to an end of an entertaining half, in which I had to remind myself that this is indeed the 8th tier of English football and I’m sure it would be a shock to the system for anyone watching with preconceived ideas of non-league football!
I must admit, the second half seemed the roll into one, with there not being many stand out moments, apart from the goal that sealed the game which came in the 71st minute. The play started with a lovely assist to the assist, Deano played a superb ball through for Hady, both of whom have been looking sharp at this early stage of the season. Hady then returned the favour for the first goal, and put it on a tee for Bassett who cemented his man of the match performance.
My attention in the second half instead went on to a struggling Charlie (the brains behind the updated club website), fumbling on his phone with the quick fire substitutions and cards keeping the “Football Pages” up to date. Apart from fielding Messi on Tooting’s bench, and “accidentally” sending off 3 Ashford players he did an outstanding job! I must declare that that was a joke, before the Football Pages police start banging on Charlie’s door.
Full time came, and the feel good factor of 2 wins out of 2 swept over the stands. Sitting pretty with 6 points after 2 games is joyous, but more so the manner in which we’re getting these wins, there doesn’t seem anything fortuitous about these results, which is very exciting indeed.