Chris Wade – @TufcChris
Chris discusses his day out at Bromley
Saturday 7 March 2020. This is a date that I have never forgotten. The date that I last attended a Torquay away game. With all that we have all been through since then, that date has remained in my thinking always and when will I be able to go again? Saturday 9 October 2021 was eventually the answer. As it turned out, the parallels of a weak performance and a 2-0 defeat were there for all to see.
Away days always start the same for me: get up with the children at the crack of dawn to allow my wife a lie in before I disappear for the day. A bowl of cornflakes, a mug of tea and I was ready to go. It was easier to go as the children could watch the game on the television, as they are all getting more and more into all things TUFC. Poor souls.
All of the best away days take place with transport on the train in my world. It is far more relaxing and allows for the odd beverage where required. So, I walked to the station in the sunshine full of hope for the day ahead. A quick change at Exeter St David’s and onto the 0916 to London Paddington with my Dad, his friend and two fellow Torquay Talk crew and we were off.
The train was busy but not uncomfortably so, and we sat chatting about the week’s football stories, Newcastle and anything else that took our fancy. A couple of cans helped to relax me further and away days were back. We arrived in London, negotiated the tube and the inevitable Circle Line issues and arrived at Victoria in good time for the 1210 to Dover Priory, where we were leaving at the first stop rather than going all the way thank goodness. At 1230, we alighted at Bromley South and straight into the Richmal Crompton directly opposite the station.
An important part of match day and lower league football is the pub experience. Contrary to what the bigger clubs may think, we were met with warm smiles and greetings by some Bromley fans that were already in situ as we walked in wearing our yellow shirts. It was at that point that it struck me just how much I had missed it. The chat, the banter, the conversations at the bar and how do you think you will do this season? Chat. Not one crossed word, not one sense of rude rivalry. I loved it.
A couple of pints of smooth and a bacon burger later, and having welcomed my cousin to the group for the afternoon (he’s a Palace fan, don’t judge him) and we were ready to head to Hayes Lane. We walked through the residential streets basking in the unseasonably warm sun full of optimism that life only gives you on the way to a football match. It doesn’t matter how good or bad things have been for your club recently, that optimism never leaves you that today will be a good day.
The walk through the gravel car park and into the away end to be immediately met by a huge waiting line for food. Lucky the burger did the trick for me. I bought a programme and walked onto the terrace, again ruing the conversation that I had in the morning with my wife about taking sunglasses and wearing shorts. I had done neither and was regretting it. There must be a lesson there?
It was boiling and the sun was right in our faces. I was struck immediately by the shining appearance of the artificial surface, and recounted stories of getting soaked by the sprinklers the last time I attended in what was the windiest day ever. The players emerged in the corking new away kit and we were off.
A tight, low ley first half where not a lot happened resulted in us being 2-0 down from two well taken goals and that was pretty much that. The players are trying hard and their effort cannot be faulted. But there is an alarming lack of quality in our team at the moment and our play was so pedestrian. The final whistle sounded to home cheers and groans from the remaining 333 away fans that had started. Another excellent turn out form the Yellow Army. Talking to people that were at Boreham Wood on Tuesday, it sounds to have been a very similar game and experience.
A walk back to the station, the train back into Victoria, a terrible, boiling experience of a rammed tube station and we found ourselves back at Paddington for the 1904. A visit to a well-known supermarket with orange carrier bags and we were on the train with a chicken pasta salad and a packet of prawn cocktail crisps. The journey back was a little more subdued as we debated what was needed to improve the situation on the pitch and some snoozing was enjoyed. I walked back in the door a little after 10pm to a decaf brew.
Whilst the result was not what was needed, the day reminded me of years gone by. We have all had a change of perspective and reality of what is important in our lives since Sutton (a). The love for my club, away days and the whole experience remains the same, welcome stability in an ever-changing world.
Optimism for next week? Of course, just hopefully with a couple of signings.