Corinthian Casuals confirmed their place in the Ryman South end of season playoffs with a narrow victory over Chipstead, and in doing so also confirmed themselves as the form team in the division, recording the eighth victory of their last nine matches. The game was entertaining in patches, mundane in others, but in reality nobody in pink and brown really cared all that much about the performance as it was the result that mattered. The match was won by a sweet strike from Mu Maan, who got clear of the away defence and finished with aplomb during added time at the end of the first half, the officials earning the ire of the Chipstead bench who were convinced that the midfielder, who added to the goal he scored at Lewes last week, was offside.
Chipstead, with nothing to play for apart from pride given that they were ten points clear of the relegation positions with only a maximum of nine available to third bottom Chatham Town, delivered a performance that belied their lowly status and regularly troubled home keeper Danny Bracken. During a first half that saw chances created at both ends last years Ryman South keeper of the year made two exceptional saves, from Dan Cumber and his brother Cu (actually it was Bradley Wilson, but that doesn’t provide an opportunity for a lame joke) whilst at the other end his away counterpart Luke Colquhoun had to charge out of his goal on two occasions to foil the division’s top scorer, Shaun Okojie. Okojie had a rare off day, failing with a number of chances, the most notable coming at the end of the second half when Colquhoun mistakenly passed the ball to him inside the Chipstead box, and although the striker managed to round the keeper his shot was blocked before it could enter an empty net, substitute Taylor Woodcraft the obstacle.
The Casuals supporters seemed a little subdued for once, perhaps already suffering from stress at the thought of a play-off campaign. They were, “pink, brown and coming to your town,” and as usual transformed into the Tolworth Hermits to give us a rendition or two of “I’m into Something Good,” (for those too young to understand, that’s a reference to sixties pop combo Hermans Hermits, not a smelly bloke who lives on his own in the basement of the Tolworth Tower), but their ebullient Tolworth Cokey was missing, and they even declined the opportunity to give us a Casuals Conga at the final whistle. Still, there’ll be plenty of time for that before the season ends.
Man of the match on this occasion doesn’t go to a player, but to home supporter Roger Stringer, who not only organised a collection for the Prostate Cancer UK charity-and the ‘Crossbar Challenge’ competition that went with it- but managed to persuade supporters to part with an impressive two hundred and eighty pounds for the cause. Even a man smoking something so foul that nobody else would go near him (imagine the emissions of an angry skunk, perhaps mixed with the fumes from a pair of socks last worn by CB Fry) was seen to give generously when asked, which demonstrated that Roger was either supremely dedicated to the cause or had no sense of smell whatsoever.
This time last year Casuals were in the process of being denied their participation in the playoffs due to Football Association incompetence, as the governing body continued their regular practice of punishing the innocent in the name of rules and regulations. It would therefore be rather appropriate were the Pink and Browns to be successful this time around.
What is undoubtedly certain is that whoever Corinthian Casuals need to play in the end of season lottery- and at this point it could still conceivably be Tooting and Mitcham, Dorking Wanderers, Greenwich Borough, Hastings United or Carshalton Athletic- they won’t relish a trip to King George’s Field.
A much, much longer piece on Corinthian Casuals will appear in my forthcoming book, ‘Three Years a Nomad.’
Published on in Steps 3-6.