In the world of football you can’t always be a winner. I know this because last weekend I stood by a pitch in Southwark, until my hands went blue, accompanied by two friends- one of whom wasn’t there just for the football, watching Fisher FC 0 v 2 Sevenoaks FC.
The visit to Fisher was my first step on a mission to visit every single football ground within the M25 that hosts a tier 8 or above football club. Taking that into account, it was a somewhat illogical decision to start the quest with a team in tier 9. However, based on a misunderstanding of the non-league structure and a twitter exchange confirming that beer would indeed be available at the St Paul’s Sport Ground, I was suckered in.
Fisher FC are based in Rotherhithe and, like my club AFC Wimbledon, are fan owned. In the late 00s I actually remember seeing them play Wimbledon, we won 5 or 6-1. At that time they were operating as Fisher Athletic FC. Unfortunately, in 2009, that version of the club was wound up. However, according to the programme notes, 42 hardy souls refused to let their club die and a new supporter owned team entered the Kent league. This season marks their first back in Rotherhithe, after a groundshare with Dulwich Hamlet FC, a remarkable achievement. Unfortunately our visit didn’t quite live up to that story.
To make sure we had the time to bask in the pre-match atmosphere me and Tom (friend number one) arranged to meet a full hour before kick off. It was lucky we did, as Tom’s bus was held up to due to heavy match day traffic and I got lost on the wrong side of the ground, after opting to take the scenic route along the Thames path. This meant we only had 45 minutes to enjoy the build up, although that was ample time for Tom to sample a range of FourPure ales on offer.
Ross (also of Fallacy Football fame) joined us shortly before k.o. and, doing his best impression of Foghorn Leghorn, quickly set about annoying the locals by declaring: ‘this is fucking shit, why am I doing this with my Saturday? £8.50 is a fucking disgrace.’ Harsh words. It was also around that point when I lost all feeling in my left arm as the temperature sunk to -10 degrees.
As the game began
the local ultras some kids tried to warm themselves up by setting off a firework. It didn’t work, but did provide more entertainment than the first 10 minutes of what I shall loosely term “football”. Other things that were more entertaining than this period of the game include: when the P.A. system stopped working halfway through the line-ups, when Tom dropped a can of beer on the pitch and when the referee took a selfie on the pitch before the game.
It’s hard to say exactly when, an advanced state of hypothermia had set in and I was unable to process the concept of time, but Sevenoaks scored. A quite frankly ridiculous goal by the number 10 or 11 (I was also too cold to read numbers), he chested the ball down then volleyed a 25 yard lob over the young Ashley Davy in nets. Woof!
Stirred into life by this moment of footballing brilliance we summoned the energy to make it to the bar. Strongbows in hand, and resembling a trio of X Factor rejects who had taken the death of their dream especially hard, we decided to test the seated section, to see if that was perhaps warmer.
‘These players are all so shit, I could play for this team’
Emboldened by drink, Ross piped up with another tirade of abuse. He seemed oblivious to the presence of numerous Millwall fans in our section, identifiable by quite an engaging story a group of them were telling about a recent trip to Spain, where they had stumbled upon a Millwall pub!
‘This is the worst day of fucking my life, why are we here?’
Tom pulled his hood, presumably to prevent his identification on CCTV should it all kick off.
‘You waste of a sperm cell!’
Ross, finally lost the plot after Fisher’s number 9 air kicked at a particularly easy chance to equalise, an error which he quickly compounded by booting a follow up chance into the face of an old man standing about 17 yards wide of the right post. Realising the seriousness of the situation Tom and I took action and quickly dragged him back to the bar.
Happily, we discovered that the bar was a) warm and b) located in a position from which you could just about see the whole pitch. It looked like everything was coming down Milhouse, as far as we were concerned. Sadly, nothing was coming down Fisher and despite the Fisher faithful’s chanting, ‘Oh when the fish go swimming in…’ being a particular highlight, they soon went 2-0 down.
The goal could probably have been prevented had number 2 attempted a tackle and he rightly copped some flack from number 7, who explained in no uncertain terms that: ‘that ain’t good enough, fam’. To which number 2 mumbled something about not wanting any nasty sores from friction burns on his knees. A fair point taking into account the plastic playing surface, I wouldn’t want my legs sticking to the inside of my trousers later on either.
Soon after this we decided to leave the St Paul’s Sport Ground having played our part in a commendable attendance of 156. I don’t think Tom and Ross hated the trip, though they may be questioning my sanity. A final fact on Fisher FC, they are named after the Catholic martyr John Fisher, who was executed by Henry VIII after refusing to accept the King as head of the church.
Shortly after leaving the football Ross’ true motivations were revealed.
‘Let’s go to the pub, I know a good one, it’s called The Mayflower. It serves all sorts of beers and has a lovely heated outside area overlooking the Thames. It also has a grand selection of pies, and I’m not talking your bog standard pie-in-a-can Fray Bentos pies here. No Sir! These are gorgeous pies, with wonderful fillings like liver and kidneys and they come with mash and other trimmings including but not limited to: carrots, onion, leek and parsnips. Oh, don’t forget liquor sauce, mmmmm delicious’
Me and Tom thought this soliloquy on the joys of The Mayflower was a tad over the top, but we agreed in principle that the Mayflower sounded like an establishment worthy of a visit. But, as soon as we walked through the door his amateurish plot was revealed. Ross pointed at a female member of the bar staff and exclaimed:
‘Remember that blonde bird that fell madly in love with me at that party last weekend?’
‘Yes, I do.’ I replied, an absolute lie. Whilst it’s true that they were both at the party no-one can recall any love, let alone mad love, although Ross did tell her a long laborious story about scoring an overhead kick as a 15 year old.
‘Well that’s her behind the bar! I can’t believe it, of all the pubs, in all the towns, in all the world we walk into hers.’
Disappointingly for Ross, Tom and I are not that easily duped. Thus, rather than wasting our time playing along with Ross’ games we decided to make a break for it. Using our natural cunning we both headed to the gents together. Then, after a little bit of a pushing and pulling, successfully escaped via the window. Next stop Camberwell, so long Fisher FC.