Planes, Trams & Automobiles (The Future’s Bright – The Future’s Orange)
Monday 30th June 2014
—UCD AFC 3 Margate FC 0—
Having not set foot on a plane for over 20 years, my only flight-related memory consists of being told to suck a sweet that looked like it was topped with a dusting of cocaine, in order to stop my ears from popping.
Fast forward to 2014 however, & with Margate embarking on a European adventure – a short stay in Dublin before playing Irish Premier League side UCD – I felt it was time to see if the plane experience had changed in the 21st century.
To begin with, my best-laid plans went awry – due to the kindness of Mark Sandwell picking me & Terry up at 5AM, I promised myself an early night – unfortunately this didn’t materialise due to the Costa Rica v Greece game going to penalties.
And so it was, that I greeted Mark & Terry in Broadstairs looking somewhat like a character from Shaun Of The Dead – although I took comfort in the fact that I’d remembered to pack the necessary items – all Margate related apart from the toiletries, & giving the new MFC flag an outing.
En route to Heathrow, Terry was once again on the lookout for llamas in the nearby fields to terrorise me with – unfortunately for her, the only wildlife we encountered were cows, Mark informing us that one in particular had been knighted, & was to be referred to as Sir Loin.
It truly is a testament to Mr Sandwell that he can pull out witty gags at such an unholy hour of the morning, although Terry seemed to disagree, as she held her head in her hands!
On arrival at Heathrow, we were greeted by Tony, who was remarkably cheerful for so early in the morning, & the first port of call was breakfast in a nearby cafe.
After a fair bit of queuing, we eventually made our way onto the plane – Mark drew the short straw & was seated at the front on his own, whereas I had the delights of Terry & Tony’s sparkling company – unfortunately, this also included a screaming youngster in the vicinity, who Tony light-heartedly suggested to the surly blonde stewardess would be worth throwing out the window – sadly his humour was met with a blank stare.
Meanwhile, I was having problems of my own, as the intricacies of airplane seatbelts were proving somewhat of a struggle, & I was much obliged to Terry (who was designated the title of ‘Mammy’ for the duration of the trip) – who helped me out.
I must admit, the flight was a short one, & although I was nervous about it beforehand, there was no need to be – it took less than an hour, & I enjoyed looking out the window & taking pictures of the scenery – namely clouds, vast fields & our jaunt over the Irish Sea.
Once in Dublin, where I suffered many ‘Father Dougal’ moments, (my first mistake was trying to exit the wrong end of the plane, accompanied by Tony’s chuckle & Keith Lemon “potato!” impression) we left the airport, and caught a taxi to one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in – the CityWest Hotel.
Even nicer was the greeting we received when we entered reception – Terry Brown, Stuart Cash, Pridders, Winkle & Jonesy being there to welcome us & thank us for travelling – we also got to catch up with Don Walker too.
After a brief sojourn to our rooms to unpack, we then met at reception, where we tried to identify the names of the new players that we saw.
One player that didn’t need any introduction was Kane Wills – his Tina Turner inspired Instagram duet with fellow new signing Jason Prior was remarked on, & he came across as a genuinely friendly guy.
As the time came to leave for the game, we were kindly offered a one-off lift on the players coach – to say I was starstruck was an understatement!
On arrival at the ground, we decided to grab some lunch, before walking up & seeing the players warm up in what can only be described as one of the brightest orange kits I’ve ever seen – it really was Holland-esque!
We also had the pleasure of catching up with Mel & Steve, who had bought Larry Lemur along – Jeremy Jacobs soon appeared out of nowhere, & we were lucky enough to catch up with Ryan Day & Bob Laslett – all this before ‘Mammy’ Terry procured some Irish string- courtesy of the very helpful & friendly young man who had previously let us into the ground – to fasten the MFC flag to the front of the main stand.
Before long, the teams were walking out to rapturous applause from the travelling Margate contingent, & the first pre-season game was underway.
Truthfully, considering all the new faces & the fact that they’d only had two training sessions together, Margate were playing a well-tuned passing game, despite some sloppy play at times, which owed much to the lack of match practice.
Unfortunately Zac Attwood came off early as a precaution, but was replaced by Jason Prior, who thoroughly impressed me along with Ryan Moss.
UCD proved to be a good side, but Margate were doing well to hold them at bay – a fingertip save from Nikki Bull keeping the scores level.
Margate though, had some chances of their own – Prior’s first action was to test the UCD goalie with a low drive, & Ryan Moss was beginning to look threatening up front, along with Luke Moore – who perhaps should’ve done better with one of his efforts.
Halftime came & went, & Margate fielded a very different side to the one that had started the game – rookie keeper Tommy Beadle making his debut, along with new signings Kane Wills, Lewis Taylor, & Luke Williams.
The second half team were attacking with more urgency, & Prior was extremely unlucky to see his well placed effort hit the post, while Ryan Moss came close to getting onto some crosses, & showed he had a sense of humour by enquiring as to whether we had any spare sets of lungs available!
UCD took the lead through a free kick that was conceded in a dangerous area around ten minutes from time – & Gate’s tiredness showed as the Irish Premier side put some gloss on the scoreline late on, to earn a somewhat flattering 3-0 win.
In truth, it was far from what Margate deserved, many observers feeling that we were well worth the draw, & I can definitely say that fellow Gate fans have a lot to look forward to – the new signings look to be of excellent quality, & a good rapport between the squad was evident throughout.
UCD were friendly & gracious hosts – & I feel that it goes without saying that Margate Football Club were truly grateful for their hospitality – Terry & Mel even had the time to make some purchases from their club shop!
After the game, we headed into Dublin – a bus took us to the city centre, where we visited a few shops (A lot of Spars were seen, & I dramatically sighed & observed that we were ‘so near, yet so Spar’ to the groans of my travelling companions) – before gleefully pointing out that there was a chippy called ‘Abra Kebabra’!
After this brief tour, we grabbed some dinner in O’Connell’s – a pub which had brilliant live music & the worlds friendliest landlord.
When everyone had eaten (Irish stew / Beef & Guinness Pie being particular favourites) Terry described her tale of woe at having to be called ‘Mammy’ for the foreseeable future to the sympathetically nodding landlord, who then gave her change back with a cheerful “Thanks Mammy!” – comedy gold!
Another highlight of O’Connell’s was that it had Father Ted on the TV – I feel the pubs here should definitely adopt that policy!
We caught the tram back to the hotel – in all honesty, tiredness was striking then – although I do remember Terry pointing out a large rock that had the words ‘feck’ & ‘arse’ scrawled on it – an Irish Banksy, perhaps?
While Terry & Tony stayed up to sample more Guinness with Winkle & Jonesy, the others decided to call it a night, including myself.
Sadly this led to my second Father Dougal moment as on discovering that I seemed to have no electricity in my room, I phoned down to reception – they promptly sent up a young porter who demonstrated that the card to open my door with had more than one use – & promptly used it to turn the lights & electricity on. If I had brains, I’d be dangerous!
It takes a lot of energy, being as dim-witted as myself, so I was asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow – meeting everyone for breakfast at half 7 the next morning.
Even then, my path seemed to be fraught with difficulties – it took me a good 10 minutes to work out how to get a glass of orange juice from an optic-looking device, & about 5 seconds for me to make a pigs ear out of eating a croissant – crumbs everywhere!
Luckily for me, Terry & Tony (who by this point must’ve felt like they were babysitting a small child) hid their sniggers reasonably well, as we were served by an elderly waitress who was very much like Mrs Doyle. (Ah go on…)
After breakfast, we caught a cab into town, & hopped on a Dublin tour bus, before ending up at another pub – O’Donoghue’s, which Terry informed me was where The Dubliners (an Irish folk band) were formed.
Not long after, we then got a cab to the airport – but not before seeing Nick & some other travelling Margate fans cheering at us from the top of another Dublin tour bus – a moment almost as random as the many locals who questioned if we had Kilkenny shirts on – I’m sure there’s a South Park joke in there somewhere, but I digress.
Arriving at the airport, lunch was eaten & souvenirs purchased – (all I can say is that I hope Dan Boyle enjoys his new hat!) before we boarded the plane back to Heathrow – I still had time to make a complete plank out of myself by handing the stewardess the wrong boarding pass, & the eternal struggle with the airplane seatbelts.
On the plus side, Terry was now in hysterics, & still maintains that I operate on a higher level than the everyone else – and therefore things like seatbelts are only for mundane lower lifeforms… I think it’s fair to say that I’ll stick with her excuse there!
We didn’t have a surly stewardess this time, but we did have one who resembled the Trunchbull from Matilda – I decided to refrain from asking her how much she benched, for my own personal safety.
The flight back seemed to take almost no time at all, and the first thing the passengers on the flight were greeted with on landing, was Tony’s text message tone – which just so happened to be a yelling minion!
Yet again, Terry was slumped in her seat in hysterics, & it took some time to get off the plane – although I can happily report that I managed to exit the right part of the plane, this time!
My general idiocy had one final outing for the day, as I managed to somehow not shut Mark’s boot & car door properly – a fact we realised about 5 minutes into our journey.
Sadly, I suffered a slight heartbreak on the way back – Switzerland bravely bowed out of the World Cup to Argentina, leaving my dreams of untold riches from the MFC World Cup sweepstake in tatters.
On a serious note, I’d like to thank everyone who made this trip possible – especially Terry Scott, Mark Sandwell & Tony Tipple – it was a brilliant experience, & UCD really couldn’t have been better or friendlier hosts – I wish them well for the remainder of their season.
For Margate fans, the excitement keeps on coming – we find out who we have in the FA Cup & FA Trophy this Friday, not to mention another Fans Forum on Friday night, at which both chairman Bob Laslett & manager Terry Brown will be present.
We welcome AFC Wimbledon to Hartsdown Park the weekend after (July 12th) as the first of three prestige friendlies gets underway (the others being Wolves & Barnet)
With so much happening at the club, including defending The Isle Of Thanet Cup against local rivals Ramsgate next month – in honour of our new away kit (and Terry’s brainwave on the return flight) I’ve decided to end this slightly long-winded blog with these words –
The future’s bright – the future’s orange.
Up The Gate!