Authored by Max
Talked about from the day the fixtures were released, the excitement from everyone in the week leading up to it was high; a big weekend was being anticipated. Would it disappoint and all be one big anti-climax, though? I’ll let you read on and be the judge of that...
Friday morning and Paddington station was (by our support’s standards!) awash with Barnet. Several groups of mates had decided this Torquay weekend idea was a good one. Seventeen of us boarded the 10:06 service to Paignton, with bags full of silly fancy dress clothing and carrier bags of cans of lager, cider and a bottle of amaretto. Well in advance a ‘Torquay megamix’ had been compiled by one of our group. As the train left London, the iPod speakers were plugged in and the tunes began to play. I bet everyone else on the train loved that. It wasn’t too loud, though. Not straight away, anyway.
Up until about Bristol it was all relatively calm, a few of the lads had decided to waste no time in quenching their thirst, while others sat and read the paper, or played cards. The music began to get a little bit louder at this point though and our large group was now joined by a little lad of about three, who seemed to be quite partial to a bit of 90’s dance classics. His parents saw the funny side of it and although I’m sure we must have been a bit of a pain for people, we weren’t doing any harm, just having a bloody good time. The train began to empty a bit as we headed into the West Country and the space was made use of now, with the odd bit of dancing and what have you. It wasn’t long before the ‘classics’ such as ‘A Little Respect’ were blaring out, with everyone in full sing-a-long mode.
We arrived in Torquay at about half one, everyone now in high spirits following their ride on the party train to Devon. It wasn’t too long a walk to the hotels we were staying in on Belgrave Road. We quickly split off into our two groups. Generally the older lot were staying in the not at all gay hotel called ‘The Rainbow’, otherwise referred to be us younger ones as the ‘hotel of sleep.’ Whilst the remaining few of us made our way another fifty or so yards up the road to the Hotel Patricia, also known as the ‘hotel of fun.’ We checked in, dumped our bags and went straight down to the beach. Those in the hotel of sleep decided to stay and have a bit of lunch and a pint in the aptly named bar on our street, Albert’s.
Five of us got down to the beach, via the standard seaside shop to buy a cricket set and a football. We had a little go on these, but the childish tendencies of myself when I’m at the beach drew me to the sea and before long we were all in their splashing about, trying to do handstands and throwing a football to one another. You’ve got to go in the sea on holiday though, haven’t you!?
The other lot arrived not long after our little dip and got the cricket going. For those of us who hadn’t eaten yet, a spot of lunch was required and this was sorted in the fantastic form of some lovely seaside fish & chips. After consuming these on the beach, we all joined in with one big game of cricket. I didn’t get any wickets though, unfortunately. After doing this for a while, people slowly started to head away from the beach. Some went and played a bit of crazy golf, while the rest of us made for a pub to go and watch the Aussies capitulation in the Ashes. We found a really good place, just up from the beach called Appleby’s. A few quiet pints were sunk in here and they did a good offer on buckets of bottles of Carlsberg. It would have been rude not to. The very pretty girls behind the bar made it all the more enjoyable and we ended up staying down there until the early evening, having a bit of pub grub before heading back to prepare for the Friday night out.
Quick showers were had and we all made ourselves look gorgeous, before meeting up by the sea front and all heading into town. We started in Mambo’s, over looking the harbour, with a nice little upstairs balcony. We were joined in here by the Barnet BBC London commentary duo and slowly everyone from our initial group gathered in there. It wasn’t exactly jumping, although I guess it was only about half eight. Anyway, after a pint there, we moved to the next place, called Bar Bed. In here they had one of those punching machines. We all had a go on that, some surprised everyone and some made a tit of themselves. And someone came last in a little mini competition and had to get a round of shots in. Thankfully the not so switched on bar maid under-charged me. Anyway, with the shots now being whacked out, this was only going to go one way, wasn’t it?
Yates’s next. I remembered this place from our 2007 visit. It wasn’t as busy as the last time, but there were just as many of us, with our numbers swelling at almost every bar being joined by other Barnet folk we knew who were down on the English Riviera for the weekend. In here it just got silly. Some of the younger lads making their weekender debuts were raving about Jaeger bombs, so naturally, we all got involved. Then they were asked if they’d had Sambucca ‘snifters’ before. No? Oh, ok. All of us ended up having one and I think I may have been sick in my mouth. Vile things. No turning back now, though. Several more Double Vodka Red Bulls were done, before moving onto the Wetherspoons on the corner by the harbour for a few more. In here came some of the funniest stuff of the night. One of the boys was now well on his way and decided to do some dirty dancing with a lady who must have been pushing 60, if not more. Hilarious to watch and fair play to her for being such a good sport.
The dancing about in Wetherspoons had got a few of us a bit over excited and despite it only just having turned 11, off we set to the club. Just across the road, called The Venue. I’d heard about this place from some of the older lot from past visits, but I’d not been before. £10 to get in, then all inclusive drinks. What more can you ask for? Perfect. It wasn’t exactly the place to be for the first hour or so, though. There wasn’t many in there and the dance floor was populated solely by about four of us, on and off. We were still having a good laugh mind you, but it did get better from about half 12 when the club began to fill up. Things got messy. There’s a stage in there and we didn’t exactly hesitate in getting on that and entertaining the crowds on the dance floor. My only criticism would be the fact there were a lot, lot more blokes than pretty ladies in that place, but we still had fun. The younger boys came in and got right involved and two of the older lads who’d driven down after work earlier in the evening were now with us and certainly making their presence felt. One of the boys pulled a young ‘lady’ (I use the term loosely) who looked quite like one of the said older chaps, just with a sort of ginger afro. He denies it, but he did. Funny.
It was one of those by the end of the night where everyone seemed to go home in small groups, with you having no idea where half the people you’d come out with were. Of our lot, I was amongst the final few in the place. The three of us finally left a little after half two. A battered walk along the front back to the hotel was not the worst thing for maybe getting some air. The removal of shirts and stuff maybe was a bit unnecessary. Walking up our road, we could hear a fair bit of noise and screaming. Not in a distressed way, in the sort of pissed up having a laugh way. Sure enough, it was coming from the top floor of our hotel.
I walked back in and in the room where the two older lads who’d come down that evening were staying, there were three scantily clad men jumping on beds, desks, each other. It was just a shambles. Eventually we all went back to our allocated rooms. I was in a room of three. I assumed this meant three beds. Nope, one single and a double. So me and one of the others had to share the double. After a bit more messing about in the room before going to bed, we split the double quite well and must have been asleep for about half 4.
Saturday. I woke up feeling like I’d been beaten up. It’s a bit alarming also when you wake up next to one of your best mates and you’re holding hands. I honestly have no idea how that happened, we were on completely separate sides of the bed, but in the middle, our hands were locked. Slightly worrying. We were up a lot earlier than we wanted to be, having ordered breakfast. The bloke had even been good enough to give us it later than all the other guests, half nine. However, this still felt extremely early given the time and state we’d gone to sleep in. This bit would probably challenge for the worst bit of the weekend, it felt like being back at school. The owner was not a happy chap and we got a telling off for noise, after he told us he’d received several complaints from other guests. He seemed to direct a lot of what he said at the table where I was sat. Whilst I may have been battered, I’d made sure not to be an idiot when I came back. I think we all knew who the culprits were, but it was easier to sit there looking embarrassed like naughty school boys than say anything else.
Breakfast and a shower didn’t really sort me out as much as I’d have liked, so a walk seemed a plan. A few of the boys from the hotel of sleep had the same idea too and about 8 of us met down by the beach a bit after 10. We walked into town, still feeling very ropey, before splitting off into two groups. Those who wanted to watch the Ashes and those of us who wanted to do a bit of retail therapy to sort out our hangovers. I was in the latter group, whilst I did buy a fetching new shirt for the upcoming night out, I didn’t feel a lot better and if anything made myself more tired as a result of doing so much walking. A bit of McDonalds and a Devonshire ice cream sorted things a bit, but when we got back to the hotel before the game, I wasn’t feeling tip top. If anything, this was the worst way to be, given what were about to do.
The idea of doing fancy dress had been banded about almost from the time the trip was announced. To be fair, the lads didn’t disappoint. Nine had bought morphsuits, based on the little plasticine character from Art Attack. Remember? Anyway, these were basically whole body Lycra suits, in orange. Due to financial reasons however, I’d had to decline being a morph and instead opted to borrow a banana outfit from a mate. Seemed a good idea at the time. Getting changed and then leaving the hotel for Albert’s before going to the ground, I felt a right twat. Not only did I look somewhat out of place as a banana with a load of morphs, my hangover and subsequent mood made me realise just how stupid I looked and I did have a few minutes where I thought about going back to the hotel and just getting changed into normal clothes. However, once we got to the ground, after a very amusing cab ride to Plainmoor, I perked up and saw the funny side of it all.
The reaction in the away end as a load of morphs and a banana casually strolled in was brilliant. It was like being a celebrity; everyone seemed to want a picture. Some of the morphs even made the Daily Mail the Monday after. There were loads of inflatables flying about too and just generally a bit of a party atmosphere as the teams came out. Then right before kick off Scooby Doo and his girlfriend the Pink Panther turned up too. Brilliant. To our initial disappointment, Barnet were shooting down our end first half, although this was to prove to be a good thing...
After the initial excitement of everyone enjoying us looking silly, with about ten minutes of the game gone, my body remembered how tired I was. The game didn’t get off to the most inspiring of starts and a few of us quickly seemed to be a bit bored. Thankfully, this was to end on about half hour. The ever so good (!) Albert Jarrett was hacked down pretty awfully by Chris Todd, giving us a free kick on the far left. As Adomah stepped up to whip it in, no less than three people around me said “this is going straight in.” They weren’t wrong. It deceived everyone in the box and bounced into the roof of the net. Morph (and banana) mania! Everyone went straight to the front, going mad, jumping on each other, hugging everyone. It was quality and later perfectly captured on the highlights. Best goal celebrations in quite a while.
Just a few minutes later and we couldn’t believe it, off we went again. A lovely move was delightfully tucked under Scott Bevan in the Torquay goal, but that man again, ALBERT! This one was crazy. He came running over to the fans and I did not want to miss out on the action, belting across the gangway at the front, pushing the stewards and fellow fans out the way to try and give Albert a bit of banana love. Sadly I didn’t get that far across, but was on TV going absolutely spare. I ran back across to the others, still hugging everyone on the way, going mental... only to find out the goal had been offside. Unbelievable! I normally always look at the flag to check if there’s any doubt and have never been caught out like that, but the goal didn’t appear to have anything wrong with it, the Torquay players didn’t appeal or anything. Not sure about that decision at all. Never mind, though. It was still good going mad!
Half time and we went off 1-0 up, having been the better side and playing pretty well. The second half, as was to be expected really, Torquay really came at us. Jake Cole put on one of the best goalkeeping displays I can remember ever seeing at Barnet, the big man was immense. The new lads at the back were excellent too, 18 year old Clovis Kamdjo on his football league debut was so solid, he won everything in the air and Ahmed Deen looked far better than Gillet has at left back. Ryan O’Neill battled hard for everything at right back, before having to go off covered in blood after a heavy collision with their left winger Caroyl. Yakubu was at his best and then Hughesy and Hyde in the centre of midfield held things together superbly. It was such a gritty display. The best type away from home. We still looked a threat going forward, but it was all Torquay, generally. Cole made a sensational save in stoppage time, knocking a long range effort by Wroe onto the post. The fourth official showed four minutes on the board, but it felt like a lot longer than that before the referee finally blew for full time. YES! The scenes at the end were fantastic. It’s not often we seem to win away, but this felt massive, even so early in the season. Last season we’d have drawn, maybe even lost in that second half. The team showed real fight and you could see just how pleased they all were at full time. Hendon was loving it. I don’t care if it’s August, singing ‘Barnet’s going up’ walking out of the ground felt nice, the result pushing us up to 6th.
We got cabs back to the hotels, a slightly nervy wait dressed as we were with all the home fans walking past, but thankfully everyone seemed to have a sense of humour about it. We quickly got changed out of our fancy dress, before heading back to Albert’s Bar, I still love the fact it was called that. However, just as we were about to leave the hotel, we were all stood in one of the room’s with the local news on in the background...hang on, they’re talking about the local teams...hang on, what’s this? Footage? FAME! On BBC Devon before half five there we were, in all our morph and banana glory, going mad. They even showed the disallowed one. Quality.
We had a pint in Albert’s and managed to get the number of one of the bar maid’s, although we didn’t end up seeing her again, before heading back to our main haunt of the weekend, Appleby’s. Probably the fittest of all the birds behind the bar in there was a Torquay fan and had been to the game that afternoon. She was made aware of the score by a few of the lads, but took it well I bloody bet she does – ER. We had a game of table football in here, some of the lads played pool, watched a bit more of the Ashes and for the second day running had a very nice dinner in there. The smothered chicken, superb.
Just after 7 we made our way back to the hotel. I was feeling knackered, but knew I’d find the energy from somewhere to keep going. We got back and for the first time all weekend, actually chilled out a little bit and just watched a bit of telly and stuff. I tried someone’s morphsuit on too, just to see what it was like. Quite funny. Eventually we were all showered and ready to go out by about half 8, a bit later than the Friday. We had to start in Albert’s really. Would have been rude not to given Albert scored our goal. There’s a quality picture of us all outside it with the sign in. Then for what seemed like the 100th time of the weekend, we went to Appleby’s, which was now rammed, although with it’s pretty nice location and lovely staff, you could see why. Into town we headed after this, making our way to Vaughan’s by the harbour, following the longest walk to find a cash machine ever, for some of us. We sat in the outside bit, pretty much just staring at some of the fittest birds I’ve ever seen. Dressed as police officers. Just ridiculous. After Vaughan’s we split up a bit, about six of us made our way the other way up the town, seeing what some of the others bars we hadn’t been in before were like. Blu Cargo wasn’t great and bloody expensive and I didn’t think too much to Banx either. But all the same, the double vodka red bulls were flowing and seemingly were doing the trick. After promising myself it would be a no shots one on the Saturday, that went right out the window too.
We walked back towards the harbour and began to ponder which club to do. I didn’t fancy Venue again and we didn’t know where one called Bohemians was, so we decided on a place called Play, having been given a flyer for it. On the way there, we walked past a busker, selling glow sticks. We all got one and then asked him to play something good. Wonderwall, by Oasis was started, can’t knock that. Two or three of us instantly began singing the words and within about 30 seconds there must have been a good crowd of about 20, including some very nice ladies, all standing around in the street belting out “maaaaaaaaayyyyybbbbeeeeeee” and what have you. Brilliant.
Off we headed to Play then, via another quick one in a dingy little bar just next door. It was called Studio 22 or something. We were all battered by now and decided it was time go and dance, it was about midnight anyway. I’d been told if Play was rubbish, I was getting the blame, as it was my idea to go there. Thankfully, I don’t think I disappointed. It was really good in there. Good music and plenty of people. Although again, far too many males!! It was 2-4-1 on drinks, which naturally got abused by a few of us. Initially I was fairly reserved and didn’t dance too much. However, within about half an hour I think the obscene amounts of vodka red bull in my system decided to perk up. Like in Venue, they had a stage at the front of the dance floor. I didn’t say anything to the others, I just walked off and got on there on my own and just started proper having it, to every song. I didn’t care what everyone else was doing, I was bloody enjoying myself. Quite funny now, it was very hot in there, but other than that, this was quality. Like the night before, a few of the lads called it day earlier than others and by 2 there was just two of our original group (me being one) left in there, although some of the younger lads had turned up late and joined the fun.
It was about twenty to three when all the stupid over-enthusiastic dancing caught up with me. I’d been on that stage for the best part of two hours, just non-stop dancing. I found my mate who I was rooming with and we decided it was time to head for the hotel. We got outside and we were both just stupidly drunk. I think him maybe a little bit more than me; I seemed to have to be the one ‘in charge’ if you like. I’m not sure he’d have made it back on his own! Anyway, this club had been right by the harbour and all the boats. My friend got into his head it’d be a brilliant idea to steal a rowing boat and row round the bay, back to the hotel. I wont lie, initially in my drunken state, this seemed a very funny plan. However, when my mate started trying to scale fences with a 10 foot drop into the sea, a bit of sense did take control and I managed to talk him out of it. The way it happened was maybe not ideal though, the conversation going something like...
“Ah mate, come on, let’s nick a boat, it’ll be so funny!”
“No mate, we can’t, you’ll either fall in the water, or we’ll get nicked!”
“No... shall we go for a naked swim in the sea instead?”
“YEAH! Big time!”
Do I even need to write what happened next? We walked round to the bit where the beach was, got on the sand, put our clothes near the water’s edge and made for the sea, at 3 in the morning. However, the tide was out a lot further than we thought; we must have done a naked run for at least 50-60 yards before reaching the sea. It wasn’t warm. Especially at first. Despite being hammered, we’d had the sense to agree we weren’t going in any higher than waist height, although we both did dive right under water and everything. We were only in there for five or so minutes, enough time to get used to the water, but the fact all our clothes, along with phones wallets etc were un-guarded on the beach, quite some distance from us, made us decide to keep the skinny dipping fairly brief. So out we got, another naked sprint, this time back up the beach and this time with the idea of trying to stay warm.
I think this bit was then two of the worst minutes ever, let alone of the weekend. We got out of the sea and couldn’t see our stuff anywhere. SHIT. I started jogging off one way, my mate the other. It was very dark and nothing stood out anywhere as a pile of clothes. It was looking like this may have gone very, very wrong. Then came the biggest feeling of relief ever, when my mate discovered our stuff some way from where I was sure we’d left it. I’ve never been so glad to put clothes on! We got our jeans and stuff back on, before walking off the beach and going and sitting on a bench by the road at the top and just sat there laughing very hard, for a good five minutes. We eventually composed ourselves and walked slowly back up Belgrave Road to our hotel, my mate chucking his wet, sandy boxers at the hotel of sleep on the way. We were quiet when we came in, but pissed the other boys off. Neither of us had a key, so we had to ring one to let us in, and then spent about five minutes knocking the door and waiting for the others to open their room, so we could grab some cans we’d left in there earlier. The two lads in that room were none too happy I don’t think, it was hardly like this was really necessary anyway.
We stayed up in the room having a few drinks, dancing to the music channel and continually laughing at what we’d just done until about half five, before completely passing out. What a bloody brilliant day/night/weekend!
Sunday morning felt horrific. We got up at 10, tidied the room up, packed our stuff away and walked down to a cafe on the sea front, looking like death warmed up, for a fry up. At least that was nice. Then we went to Appleby’s one final time, to watch a bit of the Ashes, before making the walk back to Torquay station just before 1. Our train came at 1:15, we had to change at Exeter and after what felt like the longest journey ever, we were back in London for about half 4, before getting on the tube and eventually all going our separate ways. I felt absolutely awful, but it was completely worth it. Easily the best weekender we’ve ever done, yet anyway. Barnet winning made it pretty much perfect, we’d have had a good time whatever the score, but it just added to it even more. Just absolutely sensational.
I bloody love it.
If you’ve read all of this, you’re either mental or a bit sad, but fair play to ya!