Days of wine, roses, and historic Crawley when Sutton United beat Crawley Town FC.
As a lightweight away game goer, the short trip to Crawley was ideal. A tram to East Croydon then thirty minutes down the hatch to Crawley. Along the way I learned about trains, ale, and Crawley’s historic high Street. Places like Crawley summon up the chant from the away crowd of Sutton supporters “Crawley’s a shithole I want to go home” this is part of the pantomime chanting that goes on at football grounds. I’ve no doubt away supporters given the opportunity would if playing Venezia Football Club S.r.l. chant “Venice is a shithole I want to go home.” As I said there is something of the pantomime to football chanting that Desmond Morris would have no doubt explored in his seminal book from the Seventies ‘The Soccer Tribe.’ What is not ok is racist comments or chants of which there was one incident reported to the referee by Sutton player Coby Rowe. Crawley Town FC acted fast, a Tanoy announcement about the incident followed by a club statement condemning what happened. What followed was a lot of back and forth on Twitter which I am not going to reheat here but instead go with one Tweet from Sutton player Louis John that captured it directly
To quote info from gov.uk “Crawley was designated as a new town on January 9, 1947, merging the villages of Three Bridges and Ifield with the small market town of Crawley filling in the gaps.” Arriving at Crawley rail station you can see the new town architecture straight away that is both functional and brutalist in places. That style does not alienate me as a fan of brutalised architecture and of Milton Keynes the jewel of the South. Having navigated the new town, we entered the historic high Street in the company of Sutton United ale consultant Mark. His pub pick was “Shades (85 High St RH10 1BA). Several guest beers and ciders should be available, plus food, in this medieval building with an allegedly haunted upstairs room.” The 84th-minute goal from Isaac Olaofe will haunt the memory of Crawley FC supporters. It certainly raised my spirits 😊.
Opposite Shades pub is a Weatherspoon’s which like much else in life divides opinions for away supporters. For me Weatherspoon’s is the Ryan Air of drinking, its cheap, the owners’ opinions are loudly held but sometimes you must fly Weatherspoon’s when you cannot afford business class craft ale prices.
Crawley FC are like a supermarket out of town this requires a walk or a taxi to get to the ground. Though cycling is an option for home and an adventurous away supporter with a bike. The club had a tidy bike rack which I saw home supporters use after the game. As a cyclist this was good to see.
The ground itself was tidy, functional and had a good covering for away fans in case of rain. The away end was filled with over five hundred Sutton supporters. The sight of Sutton goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis triggered chants of ‘Deano.’ His shaky start to the season is well documented but the Sutton fans are rock solid in their encouragement to Deano. He repays that in buckets. In what was a scrappy game were the ball did not stay on the floor much, passes were a bit high and sometimes directionless. Then less a turning point in the game but a platform to build on, a penalty for Crawley. Then my man of the match, Sutton keeper Dean Bouzanis saved the penalty, going right to save in the 76th-minute. His reaction, a jump with fists pumped in the air in celebration went like lava from a volcano reaching every Sutton player on the pitch making them scrap even harder for the win which came compliments of an 84th-minute goal from Isaac Olaofe. Sutton supporters erupted in joy. What followed in my mind was Madonna singing Hung Up, time does indeed go slowly when you are waiting on a referee to blow up for full time which eventually, he did. Sealing an away win that takes Sutton to fifth in the English Football League division two with a game in hand. Matt the Manager drank it all in as he joined Sutton supporters in wild celebrations.
After the game ends, I walked back to the town centre to get the train. I saw a few familiar faces on the platform. All I am sure were thinking of the game, thinking about our recent run of form, and daring to dream of that what if. Meanwhile back on earth the target remains fifty points, stay in the league finishing higher than Harrogate when they got promoted.
Then onto the train back to London, a subject I learnt a lot from, compliments of Sutton Utd fan, rail, and ale expert The Wing Commander on the rail trip to Crawley. I did promise him my favourite films that have a train at the centre of the action, they are Train to Busan, Strangers on a Train, Narrow Margin, Throw Momma from the Train and Snowpiercer featuring the disorder speech by Tilda Swinton as Mason
The Sutton United train is more like the Love Train than Snowpiercer’s apocalyptic train ride but like all train rides there will be stops and starts but at this junction we Sutton fans are enjoying the ride. Onwards.