TT GROUNDHOPPING – Woking (a) by Clive Hayward

TT GROUNDHOPPING

Clive Hayward – @Byehorse

Clive talks about his day out at Woking

Woking is usually a fun trip, and a flash of Armani magic turned it into a particularly good Friday this year.

Although we have only been going there since 2007, when we nicked three points during our first season of Conference football, Woking(a) has become a mainstay of our fixture list. Paul Buckle slotted Lee Mansell into right back that day. I always thought that was his best position and transformed him from a midfield relegation magnet into a dogged, reliable up & down the flanks merchant.

Results in Jam Town have been reasonable over the years. Low points were definitely the pain of a 4-1 hammering when we were at our lowest ebb and a spineless cup replay exit with Brett Williams carrying our hopes in a forlorn fashion. The latter was made much worse by me having to stop the car at every service station to heave my guts up on the way home after the onset of a particularly unpleasant stomach bug, but these were more than balanced out by the joy of Ben Gerring Day and it’s always a fixture we approach with enthusiasm.

Usually the train journey is a pleasure, because Woking is on the Exeter-London Waterloo line and the South Western Railway service is very pleasant, with comfortable trains wInding their way through some of the prettier parts of Wessex. Easter engineering works meant a bit more hassle this time, with overcrowding on our train to Westbury and then a traditionally rammed go kart from there to Salisbury. The vibes were very positive though. Everyone was travelling for pleasure, including a very friendly hen party on its way to Portsmouth. The bride-to-be was a bubbly sort, absolutely overjoyed by her friends’ gifts of some snazzy new trainers (size 3) and a Zac Ephron sex doll (very small).

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We said goodbye to Zac at Salisbury, and made the most of an hour in this loveliest of cities. By now (11.30) the sun was strongly out and it was probably the warmest day of the year. We luxuriated in the beer garden at The Bishop’s Mill, an idyllic spot on the banks of the foaming River Avon. The beer was less foaming and more ice cold and Belgian, and it was something of a wrench to have to leave to continue our journey.

But Woking has its share of good pubs too, and an arrival just after 1pm gave us plenty of chance to lubricate effectively before making the short walk to the ground.

There have been plans for years for Woking to sell their stadium for housing- they would surely get tens of millions- but I hope it doesn’t happen. Kingfield is a proper football ground with 4 very different sides. The away terrace that runs all down one side makes up in good views what it lacks in a roof. Most of the home fans congregate in their covered home end. The far side is a low & ramshackle seated affair, whilst the Tim Buzaglo stand at the Ben Wynter End is an impressive construction and a suitable backdrop for memorable goals of the sort we all remember so fondly.

Torquay’s performance was reminiscent of Ian Holloway’s “ugly bird in the taxi” routine: it didn’t look the best, but a result is a result, especially when you are at the sharp end of the season. Armani broke his former fans’ hearts with a goal worthy of winning any game, and gave us an opportunity which we relished to remind Woking of the reasons he chose yellow over red and white in 2019. I’ve a horrible feeling that that particular song (“he left cos you’re shit”) may come back to haunt us in the summer.

I returned to Devon well refreshed and in need of new glasses- having had my varifocals knocked off and trampled in the joyous aftermath of our winner. It’s a pain, but it’s also another memory from the fixture that just keeps on giving. Obviously we need to be ambitious to drop Woking from our list sooner rather than later, but parting would be sweet sorrow. It surely beats the hell out of Scunthorpe!

UTG!! – Clive

DEAN MOXEY
Photo courtesy of David Holmes

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