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These Boots Were Made For Dorking

I said it would all come good, didn’t I? I said our first away win of the season was just around the corner and we were due to give someone a good hiding, didn’t I? Ahem. Yes. I’m paraphrasing but that’s pretty much what I said.

Sadly, we couldn’t really justify a weekend in Surrey so soon after Christmas, especially with the rail strikes, so we missed out on both visiting Denbies Vineyard and on taking advantage of the generosity of Dorking owner and manager Marc White, who put £500 behind the bar in the Spotted Dog before the match. Needless to say, OASIS made very quick work of the tab, and most of them managed to not disgrace themselves. The travelling fans from both north and south were rewarded for making the journey both on and off the pitch.

As has happened all too often this season we conceded early on, McShane bundling home the rebound after Norman’s save. It would have been all too easy for our heads to drop and for players to hide after that, as we’ve again seen all too often this season. Thankfully we seemed to be made of sturdier stuff last Saturday and quickly equalised through Fondop hitting home the rebound at the other end of the pitch. His second was a thing of beauty, flicking the ball over his shoulder before burying the volley. It was so good I’ll let him off for the siuuu celebration. Again. Peter Clarke made it 3-1 from close range before half time after Dorking failed to clear a corner. 41 years of age. I’m 41 and I have to take my time walking down the steps in the Rocky.

Fondop got a fully deserved hat-trick in the second half, banging in a low-driven shot after a great run down the right. Chapman put the result beyond any doubt, hitting our fifth after intercepting a ball one of their defenders inexplicably tried to pass sideways on the edge of their box. It’s nice for it to be us punishing the opposition’s mistakes. Long may it continue.

Unsworth was keen to praise Fondop after the match, saying “He’s unplayable when he’s like that”. He also revealed that big Mike wasn’t wearing his own boots. The hat-trick hero confirmed that he had indeed brought studs and no moulds, presumably forgetting that we’re in a tinpot league with plastic pitches. He’s a size 11.5-12 and the closest size anyone had were sub keeper Matt Hudson’s size 11s, which he had to take the insoles out of. It clearly didn’t do him any harm – “whatever the price I’m buying his boots!”. Fondop wanted to give credit for his goals elsewhere, however: “First of all the glory goes to God for this hat-trick because God is the one helping me achieve all these things.” Cheers for that, God. You owe us, mind.

Dorking boss Marc White had a slightly less spiritual take on the game: “Well from our perspective obviously it was shit… We lost 5-1 because we’re shit at defending.” Hahaha. Fair play. If only all post-match interviews were so honest. You can’t blame him for wishing his players hadn’t been quite as hospitable as he was. He was full of praise for us again, and the love-in continued on Dorking’s Twitter account, where they congratulated us on our win and shared a video of Frank entertaining everyone with a rendition of The Wanderer along with some (ahem) dance moves. Weeks after having major surgery. What a guy.

Both David Unsworth and John Ebbrell have been saying that we were going to give someone a hammering soon, and it turns out they were right. I hope they’re right about everything else and that the team has turned a corner. Hopefully we’re starting to see the first fruits of the long-term rebuilding project (how’s that for a mixed metaphor). A lot of people have been asking why Reid isn’t starting, and it’s certainly a nicer problem to have – “do we keep Fondop in the starting line-up after his hat-trick, or do we bring in the lad who’d already scored 8 goals before we signed him in November?”

One last thing – you may have seen that Royton Cricket Club were the victim of an arson attack before Christmas. Some absolute arsehole set fire to their score box and they’ve lost loads of equipment. We’ve seen over the past year how great people round here (and Latics in exile) are at looking after and fighting for their local sports clubs, so if you can afford to, please donate a few quid to help them out.

As I’m writing this, there’s a pitch inspection scheduled for 8am this morning, which coincidentally is when the blog gets published, so who knows whether or not the Gateshead match will still be on when you’re reading this. I hope it is, I’d love us to win the FA Trophy. Day out at Wembley and it’ll be a proper ‘I was there’ moment. We might as well embrace being a tinpot non-league club and be the best tinpot non-league club we can be. Come on Athleticos, let’s get the ‘tell me ma, me ma’ chant going today. Or on Tuesday if it’s postponed. KTMFF.



Written by Arlene Finnigan. Image © Eddie Garvey.

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