Dartford FC played its penultimate away match against Stockport County on 13 April. We left at 08.30am and rode in a super-duper executive coach, as our normal executive coach was unavailable. This coach had darkened windows and Satellite TV that actually worked, beautiful leather seats, amazingly comfortable. We learned that this coach is the on that the Tottenham Hotspurs’ team uses, so we were well impressed. The driver needed a break, so we elected to stop at the M6 Toll services and found that we’d chosen badly. The coach park was full to bursting. We had the biggest coach by far and had to park wherever we could. I have never seen so many coaches all in one place. And of course, the passengers from those coaches were filling up the service station to overflowing. They were mostly Wigan supporters on their way to play Millwall at Wembley. It was a ridiculous shuffle from the entrance, step by step, towards the loos. The catering area was just as densely packed. I am a bit claustrophobic in crowds, so was glad one of the players was close to me so we could joke a bit. Strangely, or perhaps not, the bulk of the crowd was headed to the mens’ room. Having got to the ladies, and then shuffled back, I met up with the same player on the way out. We decided that the best plan was to head straight back to the coach! The only time I have been so glad to get back on board.
We got to Stockport County ground and it hadn’t rained all morning. Then, just as the match kicked off, it started. It wasn’t a deluge, but could have done without it. I was ‘invited’ to the Boardroom for the pre-match meal but really didn’t have sufficient time to do that and get sorted out, so I declined. In the half-time the club Doctor showed me the way to the Boardroom, and I had to divest myself of gear before they would let me in! I managed a cup of tea and a chocolate brownie before the second half. Needed that to stave off the damp and slightly chilly air.
Stockport were desperate to win, Dartford determined they wouldn’t. Charlie Sheringham’s goal earned Dartford three points at Stockport and deepened County’s relegation worries. Charlie Sheringham should have put the visitors ahead in the first half when he got onto the end of a James Rogers cross, only to somehow miss from two yards, but he redeemed himself when he nodded home Ryan Hayes’s delivery. It was Jason Prior’s last game with the Darts. Good luck for the future, Jason.
Matty Mainwaring came closest for the hosts with a shot that struck the bar, but they could not level, meaning they are now two points off safety. At the end of the match, the crowd in the stand behind the goal got somewhat irate. The stewards were expecting some sort of trouble so were prepared. I took the opportunity to snap some of the crowd, while they were shouting “YOU’RE NOT FIT TO WEAR THE SHIRT MATTY!” – “YOU KILLED OUR CLUB!” – “WHY THE F### ARE YOU TAKING PHOTOS OF US!” – “GET THE BOARD OUT!”. It always disappoints me when club ‘supporters’ turn nasty. Pity most of the loudest shouters look the least likely to be able to run around for 90 minutes, let alone play football. More a nightmare than a dream!
The cards are the other way up for Wigan, who beat Millwall, and now play Manchester City in the final on 13 May. Wigan Athletic’s manager Roberto Martinez says his players are ‘living the dream’ after reaching their first ever FA Cup final.
On the way home we had fish and chips on the coach, and made it back to Dartford without a stop, except to drop off some of the players enroute. Got home about 10.30ish. Its a long day!