We’ve spoke about going down ‘the smoke’ for ages now. We decide to strike while the iron’s hot; AFC Wimbledon are having a wobble. Second placed Hampton and Borough are breathing down their necks. The Dons’’ crowds are immense. We take no chances and book tickets through the club.
It’s Friday night and I’m battering The Nuclear Scientist at table tennis. Mrs P has gone out for a meal with friends. NS tries to ply me with 6% real ale. I elect for an early night.
I’m up at 6am and pottering around the house. It’s like a kid on Christmas Day waiting for his parents to wake up so he can open his presents. I pick up No.2 Groundhopper, White Van Man, at 7.30am. He’s just putting on a few more splashes of Faberge’s Brut aftershave.
The Architect lives around the corner. I pop in to see my Godson and his little brother. They’re well hacked off that their dad is on the sauce with The Groundhopper for the weekend.
We’re on the A52 driving towards Grantham. White Van Man is chipping away at me and asking if I’m ever going to get out of second gear.
The train is on time. We arrive at Kings Cross station at just after 10am. We catch a tube up to Earls Court and another to East Putney. We jump on a London bus for the final journey to Putney Heath.
We drop off all our tackle at the Mayor of London’s penthouse suite and stroll through his manor, chancing upon a country pub. It’s not even midday yet and we’re already tucking into a few sherbets.
White Van Man is a big girls’ blouse; he drinks vodka and tonic like Rita and Emily off Coronation Street. The Architect selects maids’ water (Carling). Sticky tries a pint of Brakespeare’s Bitter; it’s 3.4ABV and revolting. There’s more chance of getting tipsy drinking Kaliber.
The Mayor of London comes marching through the front door; more alcohol is consumed and it's burgers all round. White Van Man is frothing at the mouth at the sight of his food coming out of the kitchen.
The Mayor of London has acquired some tickets for the Fulham v Liverpool game this evening. It will mean a mad dash from AFC’s game to get to Craven Cottage in time for kick-off.
I’m on the Guinness now and feeling as happy as Larry. Too Shy by Kajagoogoo is on the jukebox and racing from Aintree is on the TV. I heard Charlie Brooks on Five Live the other night tipping 66/1 shot Golden Flight to win in Liverpool. I have a huge £2 each way on it.
They’re all calling me Captain Slackbladder; a reference to my frequent visits to the toilet. WVM taunts me that I “broke the seal too early.”
We jump in a taxi towards Putney High Street. The taxi driver has the dreadful Heart FM on the radio, much to WVM’s amusement.
We’re now in The Fox. I’ve turned my attentions to Kronenberg 1664. Big Sam’s route one Blackburn are losing to Tottenham 1-0.
We’ve already drank enough to sink a battleship and arrive at Kingsmeadow in good time for the game. On alighting the taxi I notice a rather portly old chap miss the kerb. He stumbles and careers into The Groundhopper, ending up in a heap on the floor. I check that he’s ok. I thought I was the one who was drinking?
White Van Man has spent the entire morning on the phone; he’s fielded more calls than Harry Redknapp’s agent. One more beer is necked in the spacious clubhouse.
Wimbledon is in south-west London, in the borough of Merton. The area is well known for tennis, greyhound racing, speedway and stock car racing.
Famous people born in Wimbledon include Northern Ireland winger Glen Little, former West Ham and Charlton manager Alan Pardew and The Comedian and Trumpy Bolton’s all-time hero, Oliver Reed.
AFC Wimbledon currently holds the lease for the The Cherry Red Records Fans’ Stadium, situated in nearby Kingston-upon-Thames. The Dead Kennedys and the Macc Lads are two of the hundreds of bands and artists belonging to this record label. I guess at some stage the Dons will go home to roost.
AFC Wimbledon were formed in 2002 after the Football Association controversially gave Wimbledon FC permission to relocate to Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire.
They are managed by former Aldershot gaffer Terry Brown. Their reserve team manager is former Dons’ striker Marcus Gayle. It is said that Gayle tells team members to write down their ambitions for each game on a chunk of balsa, which each player then punches, making the "breakthrough''.
I also notice, flicking through what must be one of the best programmes I’ve seen this season, that legendary goalkeeper Dickie Guy is the club president.
I visited the revered Plough Lane years ago with Nottingham Forest. John Fashanu knocked the Tricky Trees from pillar to post that day. 4-1 was the final score.
Team Bath is the collective name for the family of sport, leisure and health-related activities that take place at the University of Bath. It was formed in 2000 and plays its home games at Twerton Park. It will be a severe test of the Students’ nerve in front of a packed house today.
Admission is £10 and £2.50 for the programme.It’s difficult to find a good vantage point; there are over 3000 people here. There’s a carnival atmosphere. The supporters certainly aren’t as tense as the players.
The standard of football is disappointing; I’d expected better. There’s little craft or creativity. Bath’s right back and captain both look accomplished on the ball.
The two highlights of the first half are the Lord Mayor catching the match ball and Sticky meeting Haydon the Womble.
The Bath keeper turns a close range shot over the bar following good work down the left from Ibe.
The Dons right back hits a diagonal ball toward Ibe who jostles the defender off the ball but fails to lift his shot over the ‘keeper’s outstretched hands.
Team Bath have barely fashioned a worthwhile chance. The occasion appears too big for them. The youngsters look scared stiff.
We’re back at the bar again. WVM has shouted them up. I’m suspicious of his tipple though, as it’s served in a Coca Cola cup. He claims there’s a shot of vodka in it.
The Mayor of London is holding court with his tales from the corporate world and the occasional name drop. The anecdotes are interesting and amusing, a bit like the guy himself.
We’re late for the start of the second half. We’re walking around the corner into the stadium when there’s a huge cheer. The Architect is jumping up and down. The Dons have taken the lead. Ibe has bundled home a right wing cross. It’s the first goal I’ve missed since Corby versus Grimsby back in July.
The goal is a weight off everyone’s shoulders. Wimbledon start to knock it about. They get plenty of joy down the right hand side. Tom Davis, their Number 8 dictates the game.
Disaster strikes on 75 minutes. Mrs P texts in, the boiler has broken down and it’s going to cost £300 to fix it. To make matters worse Golden Flight has tipped its rider off at the first fence in the Grand National. A 100/1 shot wins the race. If I’d backed that it would have paid for the boiler.
Time’s running out for us now. We have a taxi booked at 4.45pm: destination Fulham. I never leave a game early. I’ve not seen a goal and I know I’ll miss another. The AFC experience has been fantastic. I wish I could have absorbed it more than the endless alcohol supply that has passed my lips today. But I’m on a day’s leave from home. ‘Taxi for Fulham?’
Man of the Match: Tom Davis