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Nee Article: First beer in England for a while and first game of the season at Welling

I arrived back at Gatwick this morning from Thailand at 7.20 a.m. The first pint of English bitter is usually a key part of my first day back, but today also had the bonus of the first football game of the season.

A few hours later, I was striding purposefully through Welling High Street in search of the pre-match pint. You could see people wilting in the heat, but, hey, this is just like any other day for those who regularly sample Bangkok’s climate.

As I approached the Guy Earl of Warwick, I spotted an advert promising a Beer Festival. Aha, here comes the first beer back in England. Walking inside, there was the usual spread of red shirts, but getting a beer was impossible. When you see more people behind the bar organising rather than serving, you know you are in for a long wait. To make it worse, the temperature inside the pub was nearer 50 degrees centigrade.

I gave up and sloped outside and decided to gamble on a pint inside the Welling ground. The bar was cool and the queues minimal – a good decision it seemed. The pint tasted as though it might have been left over from last season and the head on the beer was as big as the head you get on a beer in Amsterdam, but it was just about OK.

Fortified by the beer, I was ready to take a seat. When it’s £2 extra to sit down, who wants safe or unsafe standing? I was hoping to glimpse one of the new shirts – not because I care about shirts much but, perhaps, a new name might appear on the back of one indicating a new signing that I had missed while en route from Thailand. I spotted someone in a Duffer t-shirt – surely, we haven’t signed someone called Duffer. Then, I saw a young lad in a red shirt bearing the name Young. Had we signed Ashley Young or re-signed Luke? No, it would seem that the lad either shared Luke’s surname or wanted to make it clear that he was indeed young.

I sat down ready for the action – behind another young lad wearing a Messi shirt. Surely not, I thought. Is it just possible that the Russians have taken over, our new away strip is light blue and white stripes and we have signed Messi?

And, then the teams came out. Now, I don’t like to sound like a moany old git – and, having just said that I don’t care much about shirts, it doesn’t seem right – but I really do not like goalkeepers in all white. What was wrong with green? And, wasn’t it more fun when Plymouth came to town and the keeper would for just that special occasion change to purple or red?

The game started and it wasn’t bad for a friendly. Kermorgant and Piggot caused havoc in the Welling penalty area, but were Welling distracted by Powell’s clever tactic to give Kermorgant the 2 shirt with 18 on his shorts? And, then I realised what had happened. Hughes was wearing the 18 shirt with 2 on his shorts. It all fell into place. Kermorgant was criticised for being a bit podgy for the first game last season. This time, Powell sent them to the Guy Earl of Warwick with Hughes as his minder. In the Warwick, Kermorgant sweated off 2 stone, but then had to rush back to the ground to be ready for the 3pm start. In their haste, they grabbed the wrong shirts.

With that explained, we could watch Piggot knock away three well taken goals, although I couldn’t help thinking that I might have nicked one if Kermorgant could lay on such good chances for me. 4-0 at half time and good value for the £7 entrance fee, I would say. I had heard rumours in Thailand that some friendlies cost £60 these days.

In the second half, it’s a new team, but still the same all white for Button. I suddenly realised that the socks were also annoying now. They looked as though there was a bandage being worn rather like all the ladies at Wimbledon.

The 2nd half was somewhat forgettable. It looked like a pre-season friendly, which was, of course, just what it was. We played lots of nice triangles but nothing to make you think that Championship teams will need to replay videos of the game over and over again to thwart us.

Smith didn’t get the service Piggot got in the first half although probably should have stuck one away, particularly from Green’s pinpoint cross. There’s a frantic five minutes in which Button got the chance that Pope was denied to prove he’s a decent keeper, although the woodwork saved him on one occasion. Towards the end, Green slotted away a penalty to make it 5-0 after a handball decision went our way.

The whistle went and I left the ground and headed back up Welling High Street. I have had beer, I have had my first football game of the season, but I am not tempted by a kebab. If Welling can get promoted four more times, they will challenge Tottenham Hotspurs for the number of fast food outlets available to punters. I couldn’t help noticing the Kebab Well café. Was it short for Kebab Welling or should read it as Kebab, Well?

As I continued down the High Street, I reflected on the performances of the players. Kermy looked good, Piggot took his chances well, but maybe Smith would have scored a few if he had played alongside Kermorgant. Hughes had piles of room. Gower played a similar role but had a bit less room, but, again, he may have been a victim of a more makeshift formation. Was Fox good enough in the first half? I am not sure. It may need to wait another season for Fox sake (sorry). Wood looked comfortable and moved well for a strong defender. He could be a good acquisition although it would be good to see him against a more challenging attack to look after.

What conclusions can we draw after the game? Well, not many. It was a friendly against Welling. So, that’s it – one beer in the belly and three imaginary points in the bag.


  • Good to have you back. Interests post . We need to sign two strikers. I'm d
    Sure we will.
  • Lovely post, tma.

    Welcome back & thanks for bringing the summer with you !
  • edited July 2013
    I liked Hamer's white kit last season. Best gk kit we've had in years.
  • Well done TMA , you've probably seen our biggest away win of the season!
  • I liked Hamer's white kit last season. Best away kit we've had in years.

    Oh no. Goalkeepers should green except, of course, in internationals when it is yellow
  • The science of it is...
    Psychologically strikers are drawn to hit shots at bright colours when down to instinct.
  • A good read, Thai. Enjoyed that!
  • cheers Thai, a good read
  • as Peters & Lee sang .. 'Welcome Home'
  • A great story, Thai - especially liked your description of the ground and environs. It's a quaint old place, with players' 'tunnels' on each side of the sloping pitch, incomprehensible tannoy announcements, and the ball sailing over the wall in to the road beyond. Remember to steer clear of those kebabs!
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  • Thanks for pointing out all the reasons I moved from welling
  • Oi I live in Welling only the high streets a bit ropey(ish) ;)
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