From the archives…

WIE Issue 5 (August 1993) – Part Two

The aforementioned 1992/93 season was indeed terrible. And we were especially bad away from home (nothing much changes, eh), so our heroic regular contributor Tim provided the following account of his travels which we reproduce verbatim for your delectation.

Not the Relegation Tour

25/08/92 v Wycombe; Lost 0-3

So, no surprises here. A nice little ground is Wycombe, and with a determined stride, it’s possible to gain entry to their bar without their resident gestapo pulling you back. A couple of ours sent off, but all that I can really recall is that my feet hurt, due to a new pair of docs.

29/08/92 v Stafford; Lost 3-4

I hate Stafford. Every time I’ve been, we’ve lost. It’s a drab place and doesn’t even look nice on a sunny day. A wonderful ground improvement meant that one of the terraces was fenced off for no particularly good reason, though it was good to see that both sets of supporters completely ignored this restriction. The game, of course, was farcical. A 2-0 lead in five minutes was turned into a spectacular defeat, with the added embarrassment of a winning goal from the very veteran George Berry.

08/09/92 v Woking (Drinkwise Cup); Won 2-1

Due to certain ideological differences with the sponsors of this competition, I found it necessary to boycott the whole tournament. We won, apparently.

12/09/92 v Bromsgrove; Drew 2-2

An odd place, Bromsgrove. Lots of middle-aged men, all of whom were wearing green and white scarves. The majority decision was that ‘we didn’t like it’, mainly because the place was almost a three-sided ground, but I must be a dissenting voice as there is a bar and a decent terrace, and the weather is nice, so what more could anyone want? As for the game, well we managed our first point of the season, which should have been three except that we had a referee who obviously wasn’t going to stop the game until Bromsgrove had equalised, which they eventually did.

26/09/92 v Merthyr Tydfil; Drew 1-1

A bit wet was Merthyr, it must be said. But I don’t mind travelling up into the Welsh valleys, despite the fact that the U.N. had got a relief convoy of identical shell suits through to the local population. They’ve got a nice bar with a fountain in it (always an important accessory, I reckon). And with Cardiff not far away, it gave me the opportunity to ask for a pint of Brains. Oh, and we drew.

03/10/92 v Kidderminster; Lost 1-2

Running out in Charlton’s away kit, with a goalkeeper of whom we had never heard was an inauspicious start. Still, it did avail us of the opportunity of singing a few rousing choruses of “Going back to the Valley”. The lads responded, throwing away a handsome lead and sending us home pointless. A special merit mention must go to Wings fans Danny and Steve, who succeeded in getting themselves thrown out of the ground for being very, very drunk indeed after just seven minutes. Well done lads. We’re proud of you.

13/10/92 v Bath; Drew 1-1

It was midweek. It was cold. And the burgers were very pink. So, I didn’t have one, and I wasn’t sick on the way home. And the lads ground out another point.

17/10/92 v Gateshead; Won 2-1

Gateshead is a long way away and is therefore a must for any self-respecting Welling fan. It is always cold, and it is always windy, but we always seem to do well up there. One of the bonuses of visiting Gateshead is that the game itself is played in the International Athletics Stadium, which means that all the action happens about half a mile away from where we are sitting in the main stand. This gives us, the fans, the great opportunity to gaze aimlessly into space, and not watch the game at all. Which is obviously not such a bad thing.

One great thing to watch is the elderly stewards, who all wear exciting fluorescent bibs. These come in two varieties: bibs that can be tied on and bibs which can’t. It is those that can’t that are the ones to watch, as periodically they are caught in the wind and flap up into the wearer’s face. Gateshead being such a windy place, this happens about once every five minutes, whereupon an entertaining battle ensues to remove the offending article by the elderly steward concerned. And five minutes later, it happens again, a case of the elderly battling against the inevitable (which somehow reminds me of the centre of our defence…). Anyway, the best bib incidents occurred in the 22nd and 68th minutes, and other match highlights were the girl with the cardboard box on her head (well spotted by Steve), the big concrete birds on top of a nearby warehouse, the well-disguised javelin holders opposite the main stand and the strange blue triangular Lego bits which have been stuck on the flats in Byker. And we won 2-1.

24/10/92 v Kingstonian (FA Cup); Lost 1-2

Our glorious FA Cup run ended after 90 minutes, when after taking an early lead, we decided to adopt the same tactics as we had applied in the previous year’s match at Leyton Orient – namely that if the ball isn’t in the ground then the opposition can’t score. Sadly, Kingstonian had a large supply of substitute balls and deservedly dumped us into what may turn out to be the early qualifying rounds of the FA Cup. And, oh yes, there was some kind of managerial change or something, I can’t quite remember…

03/11/92 v Farnborough; Lost 2-3

At the time of writing, Farnborough have managed to get themselves relegated, despite scoring hundreds of goals. And I for one won’t miss going there. One of the Conference’s less interesting grounds, my trip wasn’t helped by the fact that British Rail had decided to dispense with the signs at Farnborough station. The game itself proved that the removal of a manager doesn’t necessarily mean the end of bizarre substation decisions, with two-goal Gary Abbott being taken off, only for Farnborough to take the lead with three minutes left, leaving us with not enough forwards to do anything about it.

10/11/92 v Slough; Lost 2-4

Football grounds should be surrounded by small terraced houses. They shouldn’t be in large fields with horribly muddy car parks. Sod off, Slough, that’s what I reckon. I was a bit disappointed to discover that I was actually older than the new Welling manager. As a source of dismay, this ranks alongside the realisation that I’ve probably left it a bit late to make any impression in the youth team. Sad old man.

14/11/92 v Northwich; Drew 1-1

It is written in the scriptures that Welling should never lose at Northwich (well not more than once at any rate). Watching that sad Northwich defender slide in that last minute equaliser has to rate as one of the few highlights of the season.

05/12/92 v Kettering; Won 4-2

The trip from Bristol to Kettering by public transport in December is the theme of Michael Palin’s next mini-series. I myself wasn’t feeling up to it, so I took in the fine flowing football on display at Bristol Rovers versus Luton. And I was thoroughly rewarded for my unfaithfulness by what was by all accounts a very good performance. And I missed it. Bloody typical.

19/12/92 v Altrincham; Lost 0-2

I can’t remember anything about this at all. Even the quality of the pies escapes me.

26/12/92 v Boston; Lost 1-2

Our local Boxing Day derby against Boston. Boston have, of course, been deservedly relegated for having no decent roads anywhere near them, and whatever their results next year, I really think that they should not be readmitted until they get a decent motorway within 50 miles. And their pies were really foul. The game itself should not have been played as the pitch was frozen, and to cap a perfect day, we lost to the traditional goal in the last five minutes.

16/01/93 v Woking; Lost 0-1

Two more players sent off, and another defeat. After twenty years of watching this daft game, it’s very rare that I actually get worked up by totally incompetent refereeing displays. But this was one of those occasions. I wasn’t impressed. And I wasn’t impressed with Woking either. The club room seems to be a nasty scout hut, and the ground seems to have been painted in army surplus green for no apparent reason. But I suppose that’s how I feel about places when we lose.

02/02/93 v Dover (Kent Senior Cup); Won 1-0

Oh joy! Ending Dover’s two-year unbeaten home record, despite the fact that they are the self-proclaimed best team in Kent! Dover’s promotion to the GMVC has assured us a happy 180 minutes in the company of… Maurice Munden! How we love the iceman of Kent football. He is so embarrassingly easy to wind up, it’s almost untrue. ‘Hello Maurice’ in a high-pitched voice was good enough to get him gesturing at us in a manner that would shame even Ian Wright. He threatened to beat us up and his gesturing even came to the notice of a linesman, so blatant was it. Still, the thought of him offering out the crowd at say, Kettering, fills me with some amusement. So, to any fellow Conference fans out there who may be reading this and who have the necessary malicious streak, Maurice-baiting is an excellent sport.

13/02/93 v Runcorn; Lost 0-3

Our good record up in scenic Cheshire came to a fairly abrupt end with this thorough stonking. There was nearly a nasty incident when we got investigated by a group of small children who had been let in free and fancied heckling us. But I suppose the sight of some fairly large and ugly Welling fans, some of whom had their trousers rolled up and were wandering around with handkerchiefs on their heads (cos that’s what people do up North) scared them off. Meanwhile, across the river, the factories of Widnes continued to churn out their custard creams and freshly baked bread.

16/02/93 v Uxbridge (London Crap Cup); Won 2-1

A dire warning of what awaited us if we were relegated. This game was of no interest to me, or any other Welling fan there, as far as I could gather. Highlights of the game were that a carload of Wings fans turned up late and missed Ransom’s goal, and the other was the amusingly long time it took our debutant YTS player Barnes to touch the ball. Uxbridge itself was a perfectly friendly place and looked like non-league football without the stress.

23/02/93 v Witton; Won 1-0

My manager wouldn’t let me have the time off work, so naturally we won and to add to my distress the winning goal was scored by Clemmence (hammered home with his shin, apparently).

27/02/93 v Macclesfield; Drew 1-1

With a 1-0 lead and playing against ten men, we really ought to have won against a poor Macca side. Still, I’m happy that they stayed up as the pint that is available in the Star pub (just passed the ground) has to be the best in the Conference.

Stop Press: There’s a dead good pub I know in Halifax (if they succeed in not going bust this summer).

23/03/93 v Yeovil; Lost 0-1

A good performance which had the air of “plucky, but still going down” about it. I’m afraid that I don’t like Yeovil’s show-piece stadium. Admittedly it looks nicely ordered with its two smart new stands and two terraced ends. But they don’t open one end which is designated for the away supporters, so as an away supporter it’s very difficult to know where to go. The choice is to either stand with a whole load of Yeovil fans and get quickly identified by our lack of smock wearing, or sit down which I regarded as an appalling prospect as I am one of those supporters who believe that the buttock is an unnecessary part of a football fan’s anatomy.

03/04/93 v Telford; Won 1-0

I never look forward to our days out in Telford. Perhaps it is because we have never achieved anything better than a 0-0 draw at the Buck’s Head, or perhaps it is because I once made the mistake of getting off a train at Telford Central station, only to find myself in a huge shopping centre surrounded by high-tech banks and approximately five miles from the ground. Still, whatever the reason, I really don’t like the place and hence it was most satisfying that we won, at last.

12/04/93 v Mutant-Dagenham; Lost 0-1

The sooner this conglomeration of shite goes bust the better, I reckon. What can they put down as their club’s honours? ‘We’ve shut down more clubs than Jim Thompson!’ I made the mistake of buying their fanzine and was surprised to find a 3-page reprint of the Dagenham v Mossley FA Trophy Final of 1980. Are their mutant fans seriously trying to claim other clubs’ honours as their own? Will their next fanzine include an article saying how they, as Walthamstow Avenue, drew with Manchester United in the FA Cup? Will it hijack the FA Amateur Cup triumphs of Leytonstone and Ilford? It would come as no surprise if they did. The mutants currently have a whole load of non-league internationals on their books. They must be expensive. They have the ability to reach the Football League and I fully expect them to do so. But they have no more neighbouring football teams to swallow up, which means no large influx of cash from selling the other clubs’ ground. So, they will go bust and I for one will not mourn their passing. (P.S. We lost.)

01/05/93 v Stalybridge; Drew 0-0

Last day of the season, and the draw ensured our survival. Thank you, Stalybridge, and thank you Altrincham for that marvellous display at Farnborough. I can only compliment Stalybridge, ‘cos they were nice about us in their programme, and I’ve got a soft spot for them anyway as I was an occasional visitor to their ground as they struggled to get out of the North West Counties League. But that walk up from the station is a killer!

So ended the tour. Roll on 93/94.

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