Southern Connections 2005/6

My Eurostar Dash

25/Mar/2006 (Accrington Who) - Tom Moran (Life Trust member)

“I’m sorry, sir, You’ll have to wait until the next train.” Not the words I wanted to hear. City were kicking off in Dagenham at quarter to eight. It was already five, and I’d missed my train from Brussels. So started the longest match-day journey of my York City career.

Meetings with Belgian civil servants may lack glamour, but I’d always enjoyed my trips away – until I discovered that I’d miss out on a crucial game in our best season for years. Attempts to wriggle my way out of the meeting met with stony refusal from my boss, so I resigned myself to cross-country dash from Brussels to Dagenham – 350 miles, three countries, two time zones, and, hopefully, three points.

Plans to sneak out of my meeting early and hop on the Eurostar to London were foiled by a huge traffic jam and my inability to say “Step on it, I’ve got a vital English non-league football match to attend” in French. I finally boarded a train at six (that’s five, UK time) and started to plan my route from Waterloo to Dagenham.

Fast forward a couple of hours. I’d made it to London, but it was already 7.45 pm, and somewhere in East London, the first half was getting underway. I was still in Waterloo, trying to squeeze myself on to a commuter-packed tube while desperately shutting out the voices in my head that were telling me to go home, put my feet up, and watch Chelsea v Barcelona. Anyway, a mere three tube changes later (Jubilee line, Hammersmith & City line and District line, in case you’re interested) and I was nearing Dagenham. Unfortunately my tube train possessed the acceleration of a mid-nineties Ian Blackstone, and vital minutes were ticking away. It was well past eight o’clock by the time I got to Dagenham East tube station – with the end in sight I slung my bag over my shoulder and ran towards the floodlights in the distance.

The bad news was that I arrived at the Glyn Hopkin Stadium just in time to miss the first half. The good news was that the stewards, having marked me out as eccentric at best and mentally deranged at worst, ushered me straight through the gates without a word about paying. The even better news (from my selfish point of view) was that I’d ‘missed’ a scrappy and goal-less first half.

My arrival was greeted with amusement by fellow City South members. ‘Commitment’ was one word used. ‘Stupidity’ was another. I didn’t care. My first international journey to a York City game was complete. The warm glow this realisation gave me almost, but not quite, compensated for the pouring rain that had been soaking our fans for the last hour.

Was it worth it? Of course it was. Sitting in Dagenham’s homely social club afterwards, joking about our play-off chances, was fantastic, a real City South highlight. And at least my journey home was only back to the middle of London (I won’t go in to the ‘one more pint’ shambles that caused us all to miss the last tube home). I like to think we willed the team on to victory. But then, I would, wouldn’t I?

Sadly, the warm glow faded away as I realise quite how dull the game was. Donaldson looked tired, Billy looked angry, and Mark Convery was starring in his own private version of ‘What Not To Wear’, modelling a short-sleeved shirt/gloves combo. Suddenly, from nowhere, a flowing move, a great cross and Clayton tucks one away! Minutes later, a counter-attack and Bishop blasts home to make it two! Aren’t we supposed to be the ones who concede late on? Apparently not.

NEXT Social Evening - 6 April 2006. Please check our website for details of our next social evening planned to be held on THURSDAY 6 APRIL 2006 from 7.45 pm when we are planning a telephone link up with a leading York manager (phone sponsorship welcome). We meet at THE OLD DOCTOR BUTLER'S HEAD [in the upstairs function room], 2 Masons Avenue, London EC2 5BT. The pub is situated in a narrow street which can be reached from either Basinghall Street or Coleman Street [close to the Guildhall]. Nearest tube stations are BANK [suggest use exit one] and ST PAULS [both on the Central Line]; or MOORGATE [on the Northern, Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith and City lines]. Some limited street parking available in Coleman Street [at Moorgate end]. Lots of real ales on offer! Pub telephone number 020 7606 3504. Everyone welcome.

More information? Please check our website

Kit Kat Crescent Southern Connections