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Beer, beer, we want more beer. By: Eric Hitchmo 03/04/2013
AFC Wimbledon
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League 01/04/2013
2012-2013 Attendance: 4696 (716)
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Ever so rarely, I feel inspired to pen a little article. Wimbledon on Monday did just that, harking back to the old days of beers, a good old sing song and an awful lot of jolly Barnet fans. It had all the hallmarks of a classic away day, something I daresay has been lacking in recent years, hence the reason they have become so few and far between. It was only my third away trip of the season, but it was certainly one to remember.

Such an event merited a near 'reunion' level status owing to the sheer number of faces in attendance who would once have been referred to as regular. After a hearty breakfast in a fine local establishment in the gentlemanly surroundings of North London, the designated meeting place of The Fire Station in Waterloo was already plentiful in black and amber associates by half 11. Not even midday and already the oiling had long begun. Just like the old days, you might say.

An expensive, yet more than welcome round, it has become something of a starting point in southern excursions like these, however only one destination was in the minds of the more debauched individuals amongst the group. That said, who would I be to take the moral high ground on this particular act? Those of you who strolled unwittingly through the Norbiton housing estate and past a white pub on the corner will remain unknowing of the sordid activity within its walls. Keep it that way.

The train was noisy. An early morning start had ensured that anybody in the vicinity was sure to know of where the allegiance of these yobs would lie. I cannot imagine it's ever been fun for your average Saturday afternoon member of the public to have to be joined on the same carriage as these degenerates, however I am uncertain that civility has ever crept into the psyche on these trips. A few minutes of rowdiness can't hurt, it was never going to get out of hand, merely a good old sing song of a fine repertoire of old Barnet classics. We should have got the hint when a couple on the Northern Line switched carriages having endured one stop's worth of joviality.

The aforementioned pub did a handsome trade on its Bank Holiday and I believe all within successfully negotiated their way to the exit in order to watch the football. The £15 that was parted with earned them very little in footballing entertainment, however this was compensated in a generous dollop of good old terrace fun. A noisy bunch we can be at times, tightly packed as we were in a mini terrace directly behind the away dugout. This was of course the scene of some rather more unsavoury scenes a year previous. The lack of magician ensured that there would be no repeat this time around.

Albeit we once again found ourselves in a similar position, football wise. Wimbledon who were limping and struggling had appeared to gain some real form of late, without being able to get over the line of guaranteed safety. Like seemingly everyone in the relegation battle, they've been picking up points all over the place, and with a points haul of 48 pre-match, they might have felt a win would finally get them through. 48 would have been more than enough at this stage in years past, but this season has been utterly bizarre to say the least. The league table is a crumpled mess with each week as unpredictable as the next. The odd goal here or there might be the difference between bottom and mid-table, it's that close. Dramatic would be an apt term to sum this season up. You wonder what might have been for Barnet had we even had a respectable start to the season.

The football side of things reminded me of a key reason behind my dwindling attendance. Goodness me it was atrocious. I mean, wow. OK, the conditions were not conducive by any stretch of the imagination but there was a painstaking lack of quality throughout. With results filtering through of yet more wins for the bottom clubs, it became apparent that losing was not an option for us. With what was unfolding in front of our eyes though, it seemed pretty safe. No one looked like scoring, in truth.

As I say though, the terrace was a little bit boisterous, which was rather enjoyable. Aside from a handful of chants which were a tad indelicate in hindsight (again, certainly no moral high ground from me on this one), there was plenty of fun to be had in the stands. The beer really does assist, I find.

The second half was no better from a footballing point of view, though the home side did seem to up their game and from the midpoint to the close of play, their knocking on the Barnet door certainly became more and more apparent. Chances were beginning to be forged, however their was nothing absolutely clear cut for Graham Stack to deal with, and we edged ever closer to yet another clean sheet. It's an absurd record for a club so close to peril, but there can be no question that we have become a far more robust defensive unit as the season has continued. Wimbledon did have a goal chalked off late on, as the linesman flagged for what transpired to be a foul throw. A tad fortunate perhaps, but clearly it was to be a day where the luck favoured Barnet.

A long wind affected ball was tossed forward late on, and the Wimbledon defender could only control into the path of debutant substitute Keanu Marsh-Brown, who proudly adorned the coveted number 49 shirt. His running had been a bit of a thorn in the side, and so it was to prove as he sprinted away from the defence. His shot took a wicked deflection and beat the despairing home 'keeper, to send the away end bonkers. I hadn't seen it go off like that in a Barnet away end for quite some time. I mean, Burton last season was close, but the place went nuts. You just can't beat moments like that. I can still hear that unmatchable sound of a bunch of blokes (and women, equal opportunities 'n all) going mental. Fucking superb!

I can't say that I've put a great deal of emotion into supporting Barnet this year, as you'll appreciate from the complete lack of updates on this site and the generally miserable feeling oozing from every paragraph. Still, it does have the tendency to throw you into moments like that and allow you to get ever so carried away. Great fun. It didn't really die down for me, and while of course there was a feeling of nerves as the time ticked on and on through stoppage time, I wasn't really coming down from the buzz of the goal. Graham Stack had time to pull of a blinding save, a 'worldie' if you will, and the points, finally, were safe.

In the grand scheme of things, a massive, massive goal. It keeps Wimbledon in the mix, and pulls us a little closer to safety. So many teams are still involved, it could quite literally be anybody that drops. There's no one team down there who you can point to and say with any certainty that they are relegation fodder. Any Barnet fans getting bored of this relegation battle lark yet?

We all floated away to consume further beverages in a similar variety of establishments of course, having enjoyed a cracking caper of a day. Days like that are few and far between for me nowadays. Part of that is slightly sad, but I guess I'll get over it. Time has moved on and other things have become a priority (like Soccer Saturday).

Whether that continues with the imminent move away from our home remains to be seen, but I'll leave that for another day. The day is not very far away, but I'll let it lie for now.

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