Tally-ally-ally-ho!
IN his first assignment for us for several months, disgraced former cricket writer TARQUIN FETTES reports from the Rivieira on a memorable victory for Kent’s primary footballing force. TORQUAY UNITED 2 MAIDSTONE UNITED 3 Match Report by Tarquin Fettes Well hello!
 Much has happened since we last spoke, most of it good, some of it moderately embarrassing. Strictly entre nous deux I’ve had a few complications with Her Majesty’s legal system. No sooner had my name been removed from the register over that misunderstanding with a Cambodian au pair when I heard my Aunt Philomena had finally expired, leaving me a hefty estate and a working farm near Grafty Green.
 Lucky old Fetters you’re probably thinking, but alas, fortune once again vomited on my eiderdown in late June. I’d quite reasonably told my labourers that as we were now “out” I was cutting their wages to five pounds a day to ensure the farm remained a viable concern, yet instead of gratitude they responded by going on strike and making a series of unsubstantiated allegations about my recreational behaviour to the police!
 I called in a couple of favours with the lodge to make sure nothing custodial came of it, but I was still told “for form’s sake” that I was going to have to do some community work, hence my departure for Devon on Saturday, where I was supposed to repay some of my debt to society by filing a report on an association football match. 
 Without even getting paid for it I might add! I took a phone call from a chap called Dahmer on the Friday afternoon and he told me the brief was for a 1000 word reportage. Then he had the nerve to tell me he’d heard about my reputation and warn me to steer clear of “the kind of language that got you into trouble last time.” I don’t know why I was surprised. They’re trying to drum my dear friend Rod Liddle out of the trade just because he once threw his pregnant girlfriend down the stairs. The power the PC brigade wields really is intolerable. 
 My improved financial situation means I can afford a better driver, but the new chap sent by the agency was a man called Leslie who was already reeking of ale by the time he came to collect me at just after 8am. They assured me he was the ideal choice of chauffeur as he apparently knows all about Maidstone Town or whatever they're called, but what should have been a four-hour drive took closer to six as he spend most of the journey veering from lane to lane, mowing down badgers so indiscriminately I thought I could hear Brian May weeping.
 I counted around 280 Maidstone supporters at the venue, most of them sporting dementedly happy grins and saying how delighted they were just to be there. When I looked at the state of the press facilities I pitied these demented wretches and sobbed inwardly as I reflected on my glory days at the Oval, where my dear friend John Arlott would insist we share at least four bottles of red before the tea interval.
 They kept singing a song that went, “talley-alley-alley-ho” which reminded me of the glory days of the Hollingbourne hunt. They seemed to be experiencing the same form of orgiastic pleasure I used to feel when my dogs had just torn off a fox's face when a chap called Yo scored fairly early on in proceedings. When a tall, strikingly handsome young man called Lemmy did likewise almost immediately afterwards they seemed to progress to some kind of full-on collective transcendental ecstasy. Unlike the chap next to me, a malnourished wretch working for a company called Devon First who nearly smashed his laptop in frustration.
 “We’re defending loike a bunch of sex offenders,” he proclaimed, breaching several forms of press box etiquette in a single sentence. I grabbed a fistful of his scrotum and told him pointedly he should choose his vocabulary more sensibly in future. After that he was silent, even when Torquay scored just before the interval. The young ones just don’t know how to take a reprimand these days. 
 Around me in the main stand the natives were very restless indeed, to the point they were squaring up to each other. I’d heard this kind of thing went on in London’s Stadio Olimpico but frankly the idea that anything of this ilk might happen in Devon seemed rather fanciful, until I remembered the time Sid James and I were booed off the stage at the Princess Theatre after a routine about Princess Margaret backfired.
 Things didn’t improve for them much in the second half. I watched as the tiny little chap Yo scored again, only for Maidstone Town to then concede what was, to mine eyes, an equally cretinous second goal. Then again association football is entirely cretinous, isn’t it? With half an hour to go I decided to leave, so we could beat the traffic. I hauled Leslie out of the away end and followed the rest of the match on my phone, jotting a few notes down before phoning in what they call an “on-the-whistle” report to an ungrateful sounding Mr Dahmer.
 “Can’t you email it in future?” he complained. “My dear chap,” I replied. “If you think we have a future you are very much mistaken. I’ve discharged my debt to society. Now discharge yours.” And with that it was back to my exclusive gentleman’s club near Hunton, where there’s never any shortage of young Romanians who’ll do anything to “Remain” in my good books!
 A bientot! Fetters.
Torquay United: Generic Preview Bollocks
Well what a week it’s been ladies and gentlemen, what a week it’s been. Britain “loses its shit” over a cake show, the Russians are still deep-frying Syrians and the sense that 2016 has been lucifer’s year only deepened when it was announced that Terry Jones has been diagnosed with dementia. It’s at times like this that a human trying to hold it together has to seek comfort from the most powerful force for good in the western hemisphere and that force rolls into Torquay tomorrow, genuinely one of the nicest places you could wish to spend a weekend on this island. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the “happy to be in this division” thing still applies and why shouldn’t it when the season’s not even two months old and we’re mid-table? It’s not our first trip to Plainmoor but it is our first in 25 years, an era when we’d developed an unlikely reputation as Torquay’s “bogey” team, according to some random cyclist I started a conversation with while on holiday in the Riviera in 1991. It wasn't one that was necessarily backed up by results: December 30, 1989: Torquay United 2 Maidstone United 1 (Gall). Att: 2344. April 25, 1990: Maidstone United 5 Torquay United 1. (Lillis 2, Butler, Gall, Pritchard) Att 2223. April 2, 1990: Torquay United 1 Maidstone United 1 (Sorrell). Att: 2456 November 17, 1990 (FA Cup first round) Maidstone United 4 Torquay United 1. (Osbourne, Butler 2, Gall. Att: 2303. December 22: Maidstone United 2 Torquay United 2. (Butler 2) Att: 2009. Most of the memories of this fixture are warm. The 5-1 during our charge to the play-offs was one of the best team performances ever seen from a Maidstone side, a display that apparently had Jimmy Greaves purring on “Saint and Greavsie” (ask your parents, kids) on an evening when Torquay had to wear our purple away kit. The following year the BBC came to Watling Street to cover the FA Cup, although most of their coverage was admittedly devoted to Ray Stubbs’ attempts to rim Tommy Tynan (see below). The overriding memory of the league game a month later is of Mark Gall in tears after he was sent off for a 50-50 tackle that left one of their players badly injured. At the end of the season Torquay went up via the play-offs and we … well you can read all about that very soon indeed. Tomorrow seems to be “one of them”, a game that on reputation alone we’d have to be underdogs for, although given what’s happened to Torquay over the last few years a Maidstone win wouldn’t actually be a shock. Torquay’s official website helpfully suggests the Gulls will be eager to “get back to winning ways”. In personnel news RHJ has gone to Bishop’s Stortford after what seems like five minutes and this isn’t a huge surprise given the number of options we have on the right. Nor is it a surprise that the New Super Al has gone, permanently, to join the Maidstone legends side, aka Hastings United. One of the great “what ifs” is how he might have developed last season had we not signed “Julie” just as he was getting a run in the side and scoring goals. It didn’t really work out after that but he still scored a few (such as a match-turning goal at Concord). There was a lot of love for TNSA among the fans and at that level he may well be unplayable. A lot of fans have decided to make a weekend of it, rendering a supporters bus unviable. If you’re thinking of going via train the experience of purchasing a ticket will feel similar to that of being gagged, tied-up, shoved into the boot of a car and robbed of a vast personal fortune, so a four-hour road trip beckons. We may be able to LIVEBLOG! the action, but can offer no promises … Peace out.
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