A solid uPVC door and a refreshing lack of a retractable players tunnel.
Ah, the magic of the cup. Combine that special magic with a chance to see an ex Torquay player and a ground I’ve never visited before and it was too good a proposition to turn down. Plans were made on the Torquay forum. Merstham V AFC Sudbury it was. Roscoe D’Sane would be stalked and lots of photos would be taken.
However on the Friday night before the match I got well and truly slaughtered on an American craft beer called Blue Moon. After I made the arduous trip back to Ealing Broadway on the vomit comet I was standing alone and without a care in the world whilst cursing the non arrival of the 65 bus to save me 10-15 minutes of staggering back home and avoid the local honey traps.
I woke on Saturday morning to an acid stomach, a headache harsh enough to bring a tear to my eye, a trail of destruction in the kitchen and record temperatures for an October day. Nothing like a hot day with bright sunshine to soothe a hungover feeling. Why do I do things to myself. Why? Why? Why? No more beer. Beer tasty. Beer hurt head.
Let battle commence.
I recovered enough by midday. Air con in the car set to 16C (no messing about). Sunglasses donned. No radio or music. Just cooled air serenity on the 40 minute hop around the M25 to Merstham. Parked up and met the chaps. Some sympathy shown, but I was labelled as a shiftlifter for not having a beer. Two watery cokes later I entered one of the more delightfully neat little grounds in the non league circles. First sighting of Roscoe. “Over here Roscoe” says Fu Man Chu and grabs JB, thrusting him (and his Torquay United shirt) into the unwanted spotlight. Roscoe clocks the shirt and raises a half smile that barely contains bemusement.
WAG having a sneaky cigarette behind the main stand.
The players emerge onto the pitch and the game begins. Stomach feeling awful. Food taken. Sausage bap with meat sausages that contained less meat content than those made in Quorn, Chernobyl Chips with real HP BBQ sauce (none of your usual vinegar/water based Bestway bollox at Merstham), salt shakers without rusty holes and a nice cool bottle of Lucozade to give me temporary ADHD to combat the hungover drowsiness and the relentless heat.
One of the smart little ends at Merstham. First half action.
Shamed into action by Romford Kev’s rather more impressive and professional approach to taking photos (ie not getting drunk) I started to take some myself. I barely managed 20 in the first half. The shutter speed and aperture numbers started to make me feel like Russell Crowe in a beautiful mind. Numbers everywhere, none of them making sense.
Tea in real mugs. What’s on yer shoe JB?
A half time cuppa, in a real china mug helped a little and the second half was a much more successful affair. Numbers started to make sense again. We were waiting for a Roscoe D’sane goal that never came. Football injuries have taken their toll on Roscoe. The bad knee he played on at Torquay after sustaining an injury whilst at AFC Wimbledon robbed him of the fearsome pace he once had which helped him score a heap of goals for Aldershot and AFC Wimbledon. He came to Torquay after leaving Wimbledon to break into the Pro game at Accrington Stanley. Torquay manager Paul Buckle wanting to reunite Roscoe and ex Aldershot strike partner, Tim Sills. He had a decent spell at Torquay scoring 12 in 46 games before being released. A break of almost a year after being released saw him have more surgery, training back at AFC Wimbledon towards the end of last season before a brief spell dually registered at Staines Town.
Non league dedication. Bobble Hat at 29C. Certifiable nutter.
Now he’s at Merstham in the Ryman League Division One South (8th level of English football) and was unable to prevent AFC Sudbury from winning the game 2-1. We met him afterwards and he chatted to us for at least a quarter of an hour. A nice humble bloke who was flattered we made the trip to see how he was doing with his new club.
Second half aerial duel.
It’s well worth making the trip to Merstham. An excellent little ground with a very nice set of fans and volunteers who make the cup what it is. Just make sure you don’t overdo the booze the night before.
Meet thy stalkers. (From L to R – JB, Roscoe, Fu Man Chu and Romford Kev)