Given that some of the most unfulfilled one and a half hours of our lives have been spent at Sutton, this season’s visit really ought to have been anticipated.
I’m sure that the word “appalling” would be the first to admit that it was, quite frankly, not up to the job of describing this season’s traditional 0-0 dirge. Seeing a goal at Sutton is about as likely as a sustained Manchester United championship bid.
Watching Sutton play is about as interesting as watching grass grow – a pursuit which is thoughtfully also available while watching Sutton, so that the hapless spectator can compare the two equally enthralling events.
Downhearted supporters have often returned from games and orated the famed phrase ‘we didn’t have a shot on goal all day’. Well, in this game it was, as neither side managed this simple achievement, until at the very end Cookie’s neat header was cleared off the line.
Thankfully the presence of Vaughnie on the pitch usually provides the persistent spectator with eventual entertainment, and the games only genuine highlight was courtesy of Vaughnie; Sutton’s right-winger, sensing an unchallenged run into the area, was away, so in steams Vaughnie, transforming himself into a human missile and hurls himself at the aforementioned winger. This tackle was so late that it invited British Rail comparisons.
86-87 (h) 0-0 88-89 (a) 0-0
87-88 (h) 0-0 90-91 (a) 0-0
Thankfully, the referee only saw fit to caution Vaughnie for this, presumably as no one deserved to escape from a game so dull. Life as a Sutton fan must be the definition of dull. Every year brings forth nothing but sensible investment of just enough money required to fend off relegation, and provide mid-table mediocrity. Any flickering hopes of promotion have usually had a bucket of water thrown over them long before August has finished.
In short, Sutton are boring: bad ground, low crowds, and an atmosphere which even a Gateshead fan would find impersonal. Thankfully there is a decent pub opposite (The Plough), and their supporters are always very friendly, or else they would be in real trouble.
As if to prove that Sutton belongs to an era of post-war optimism filled leafy suburbs where everyone has a Morris Minor packed outside that they routinely wash on Sunday mornings, the programme even had that BO’s time warp giveaway: the teams were printed on the centre pages.
To think that some vital hours of our lives have been spent/squandered watching Boston v. Sutton encounters…. At least one moment of relief from the boredom was achieved when one of our party aimed an emotive plea at the referee: ‘You can’t allow the trainer on now, ref, not during my Golden Goal minute.’
Meanwhile ex-Pilgrim Martin Gill was demonstrating his unabashed awfulness, in keeping with the rest of the game, whilst both sides were transmitting the clear message that they would both rather be down the pub. At least some of the United players felt dutifully compelled to come over at the end and reward our endurance with applause.
All in all, an instantly forgettable day, momentarily enlivened by the odd Vaughnie assassination attempt on their right-winger.
File under “Experiences”.
© Richard O Smith 1990 | This article originally appeared in From Behind Your Fences, issue 10. Reproduced with permission.