History, hope and despair.
Yet another week of firsts as this weeks sees the first ever English Football League game at Gander Green Lane with Sutton United taking on Oldham Athletic the Latics. Of course Oldham have a first of their own they featured in the first inaugural season of the Premier league. The Latics finished nineteenth in that inaugural season but were relegated the following season. A stir of echoes for Sutton Utd, we’ll survive our inaugural season in the EFL, but its next season were the challenge to survive in the EFL will be at it’s hardest. Next season, if we stay up it will not be one of firsts but one of familiarity and a fight to stay up.
If the efforts on and off the pitch are anything to go by we’ll survive and establish ourselves as part of the furniture of the EFL. The club are assembling that furniture Ikea style, new pitch, new turnstiles, new floodlights to name a few. One of the men with the Allen keys is vice chairman Adrian Barry, AB. In this video AB introduces the changes in the style of Mr. Willy Wonka, the eccentric owner of the greatest chocolate factory football club in the world. As AB might say, for your viewing delectation over on YouTube
In the grander scheme of the changes, this one's small beer. Its the change, mandated for EFL clubs that you can’t leave the ground at half time then pop back in which means you can’t gallop either out the main gates or down the players tunnel to the club bar for a half time drink. I can remember doing that gallop, reaching the bar desperately trying to get served then gulping down a pint before heading back out to the fray. Maybe its a change for the best, I’m to old for the half time rat run to the club bar. Besides, rations of food, water and beer are freely available before and after the game. If its food you want, look no further than the legendary eatery that is Rose’s, still around albeit in a slightly different position inside the ground.
But the old Shoebox stand is gone to a place in the sky or for us rationalist its been recreated like a British museum exhibit at the Cheam Sports Club.
Anyway to the game itself. The anticipation was great to see Sutton United take to the pitch for their first ever game at the Gander as an English Football League team
Once the whistle blew Sutton got off to a good start. Lots of effort, industry and desire. Sadly no goals. As is my habit at half time as the Sutton team head back down the tunnel I go over to clap them off as an appreciation. The team always gives their all so that’s worth a clap from me. As is the feeling at half time Sutton deserved a goal. But as we all know the game of football is not a charity that always rewards effort and industry. The goal did come and I missed it. It came in the sixty seventh minute, Eastmonds shot smashed with power against the bar. I turned my body around, head in my hands, eyes covered wondering how it didn’t go in. Turning to face the pitch, all I saw were wild celebrations, Ajiboye followed it up to stuff it in the back of the net. One nil to the Sutton. After that we came forward more, a bit more purposeful. The second goal would come, it didn’t and we started to look edgy, holding on for a win. Then Oldham equalised, the mood grew darker, a draw felt like a result not consistent with our efforts. The clouds darkened.
Seven minutes added time. Time enough for Sutton to find a winner. Then irony struck with a vengeance, Oldham score a winner in the ninety fifth minute, Luamba on the break. The travelling Oldham support went berserk while some Sutton fans headed for the exits wondering what hit them. I stayed, Eastmond came towards the fans to acknowledge the support we gave, Sutton fans reciprocated clapping their hands to show support for a shell shocked team.
Heartbreak is word that hangs about this Sutton team. That will change, the win will come. Whatever happened today is a collective failure, no one player is to blame. We’ve been in a rut before when Matt the manager began his tenure. We got out of it, the same will happen this season. Onwards to Colchester.