There isn’t a lot to say about a trip to East Thurrock United that hasn’t been said before. Predominantly by me, naturally, on my three previous visits to this little slice of rural England-cum-Oil refineries. I’ve mentioned before it can claim Denise Van Outen and Dougie Poynter as its famous daughter and son, but have I ever mentioned it was also the home village of Sue Hodge, better know as Mimi Labonq from the classic 80#s comedy show ‘Allo ‘Allo. Sue was a regular at Rookery Hill, cheering the lads on as they rose through the divisions I’d expect, signing autographs like the one to the right for anyone who wanted it (an autograph that is and perhaps some witty Anglophile banter). Oh, and every time we have come here, we have lost. One bloody nil. So excuse me if even a chance of seeing the 1985 Mimi in all of her finest didn’t excite me.
But tonight Matthew, it was all about the action on the pitch and not off it. A strong Parliament of 40 Rooks had descended on deepest, darkest Essex for the midweek encounter with the Rocks to see if this great start to the season could continue. My mate Ben told me that the last time Spurs had won away on the opening day of the season they qualified for the Champions League. The last time the Rooks had gone 3 games unbeaten at the start of a season they won the league. Like all football fans, we clutch at straws even after three games in a season.
So with the sun setting over the Thames Estuary, and the full moon rising on the opposite side of the ground we awaited the Spartans, led by Jack Walder into the arena. With the battle cry ringing in our ears he led the warriors into the arena, “Remember this day, men, for it will be yours for all time!”….or it could have just been “come on lads”.
East Thurrock United 0 Lewes 2 – Rookery Hill – Tuesday 20th August 2013
It’s games like these that make a successful season. The Lewes of old would have wilted in the setting sun, uneasy with the direct pressure the East Thurrock team put us under. But these days they are made of stronger stuff and a goal in either half was enough to fairly take all three points. A rare non-Arsenal caller to BBC’s 606 programme on Saturday suggested that the mark of a championship winning team is to play badly and still win. Personally, I think that is all bollocks. A championship team will very rarely play badly. They may be out-thought, out-muscled, out-played for parts of the game, but it is how they respond that marks them out to be champions. Not that I am suggesting for one minute this Lewes team are Champions-elect, far from it. But the concentration on defence before attack, retaining shape and always supporting the man with the ball is there for all to see.
Mixing the short, fast ball with the occasional lob over the heads of the retreating centre-backs worked perfectly. Add in the huge throw-in#s from Treleaven and it is fair to say the keeper had more than the setting sun causing him a headache. Three points were never really in doubt after Jack Dixon powered in his second goal in as many games on the half hour mark.
The home team did strike the woodwork (or plasticwork as it is these days) in both halves, giving us a bit of a moment. But the ball over the top with five minutes to go saw substitute Olorunda hold off his marker and fire the ball into the corner of the net. Game over. Tough on the home side who came into the season with high hopes and then lost the nucleus of their squad to bigger sides, a fact that frustrated the officials no end in the board room post game.
Competition at the top is already fierce with four teams already on 10 points from four games, trailing the 100 percenters, Grays Athletic. Next up for Lewes is the small matter of a visit to Maidstone United. After that one we can dare to dream like the Spartans, or even about Mimi.