The One In Waders, With A Fishing Net

Come with me, if you will, to another world. A world of corporate hospitality. Of junkets. Of expense accounts. I have a friend, a good friend, who was given an all-expenses trip to the European Super Cup final in Monaco a couple of years ago. He and his fiancĂ©e at the time (wife now, it was a lovely do. Snowed.) had a cracking time hob-nobbing with the rich and famous, admiring the yachts in the harbour and generally living the dream.

sutton coldfield clubhouse
I was in Sutton Coldfield yesterday, courtesy of a pass from their Assistant Manager. There were a couple of guys in wellington boots. And the visiting Chesham team brought two coaches.

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that a trip to Sutton Coldfield is a little out of the comfort zone for BTFM. Truth be told, it was slim pickings this weekend, and we're always open to freebies. But the Zamaretto League is a new experience, and new experiences are to be embraced. Apparently.

pic of neil tooth
For the first half the season, Town were meandering around the nether regions of the league, not really upsetting anyone. Then they took the decision to appoint Neil Tooth, once of Retford United, as Assistant manager. In the 20 or so games Neil has been at the club, Sutton have won 12, 15 on the spin in the league (this may not stand up to examination). None of this is in-depth research, don't worry. No need for research when Toothy himself happily advise you of the realities of the situation.  So now, they're eyeing the playoffs. As are opponents Chesham. A tight game was in the offing.
one of two mad blokes at Sutton Coldfield

It appeared Sutton hadn't read the script. Their 4-3-3 formation allowed them to attack at will, with the lanky number 11 proving a thorn on the left. It was his shot after 4 minutes that flew over the keepers head to take the lead. One of those "if Rooney had scored it" moments we see all the time in non league. If he was as good as he thought he was, and a bit more motivated, he'd be a decent player. In the middle of the park, young Craig Milligan was displaying a delightful left foot, at odds to the bluff and bluster going on around it. And it was Milligan who struck the freekick after half an hour that put the home team two up.

sutton coldfield fc
Chesham had every right to feel aggrieved tho. They forced the home keeper into several good saves, and definitely shaded the first half.

Second half, they absolutely mullered Sutton. They pulled a scrappy goal back soon after the restart. A goal that earned Milligan a yellow card for daring to mention a clear handball to the linesman. And throughout the half they laid seige to the Sutton goal, but the equaliser would not come.

pic of men fightingMidway through the half, the ball went out for a throw in. Chesham, in their eagerness to keep the pressure up, took the liberty of throwing on one of Sutton's balls. The Sutton bench took exception to this, and threw one in tot he back of the perpertrator. A pushing match followed, which then descended into absolute farce as both benches, and all players, became embroiled in what I can only liken to an ice-hockey fight. Penned in against the perimeter fence, it became a swirling mass of humanity, and anyone wanting out was done for.

punchesIn keeping with a fairly gutless display, the ref penalised no-one for any of this. Although in his defence he can't really be expected to keep an eye on the grown men on the touch lines.But punches were clearly thrown, and the whole thing required at least a sacrificial lamb. It happened right in front of the main stand, so if he was being assessed, he may not have heard the end of it.

Of course, it goes without saying that I got none of this on camera.

Following the fracas, the game threatened to spill over, but nothing ever materialised. Sutton could have had more if their number nine had shown an ounce of the ability his boots said he had. But Chesham were right to berate the ref come the final whistle. The melee and ensuing nonsense had taken nearly ten minutes to sort. Yet there was barely two fo added time. That said, it had the aura of a day when Chesh were just destined to go home with nothing.

So, there were no glittering casinos in Sutton Coldfield. At no point was I required to don a black bow tie. And the closest I came to being snapped by a pap was the local newspaper girl, sporting a purple knitted tea cosy on her head. Who's got the better anecdotes for the grandkids, eh?
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