Swindon 1-3 Gillingham: Wild Al gets foxy

As one of the Town’s most consistent hedonists of 2015, Wild Al finds the Christmas festivities a bitter sweet experience. 

Imagine for a moment that you are a virtuoso viola player, every waking hour you think about playing the viola, every spare moment your work and family life allow, you practice plucking, imagine, if you will, that string siren is your north, your south, your east and west.

Now imagine that for one month a year, December, EVERYONE suddenly got into the viola, thought they could play it, talked endlessly about it, organised outings simply to enjoy it…

Imagine that Sandra from HR, who the rest of the year shows no interest AT ALL in string instruments of any hue, decides to viola it right up at her desk at 5pm on the 23rd. Even though when you wield your bow in the office at 9.00am in February, she mutters darkly about you ‘having a problem’ and being ‘pathologically unprofessional’.

Okay, now swap ‘Playing the Viola’ for ‘Being a massive lash head’, and you’ll see my predicament.

You’ll understand why Christmas is such a bitter sweet time in the Wild Al household. And it’s not JUST because Mum insists on adding a generous shot of dessert wine to her morning John Smiths based sharpener as soon as December rolls around.

On the one hand, it’s great to see daytime drinking go mainstream, even temporarily. But on the other, suddenly the clocks on the walls of pubs and clubs of this fair town are, let’s make no bones about it, stuck at quarter past amateur hour.

As Yuletide approaches, our hallowed taverns are packed with people who have no idea of bar etiquette, pub protocol or even what is the correct spirit to team with a pre midday pint of cider  – A budget mixed blend whisky since you ask, but Bailey’s if it’s a Strongbow – Hey, I don’t make the rules.
Last Thursday was a classic case in point.

Stuck in a slow moving bar queue, in an Old Town gin joint that I shan’t be naming – because if you are going to bar me I don’t think I should give you any free plugs –  I, as tradition demands, ‘oggy oggy oggied’ the women directly to my left. And rather than responding with the requisite ‘Oi Oi Oi’, she merely stared at me liked I’d just vomited on her shoes.

That I had just vomited on her shoes was by the by. Amateur.

One prospect that did threaten to lift this festive season beyond the usual round of family food, family feuds, family fisticuffs, and persistent and increasingly tempting calls from Jeremy Kyle’s research team, was the return of Boxing Day football at the County Ground – for the first time in nine years, with the visit of Gillingham.

The match started at a decent pace, and the first real chance fell to Town, as Ben Gladwin embarked on one of his trademark saunters through the opposition half, before blazing over once inside the penalty area. In short. It was a flashy opening with an inevitably disappointing result.

It immediately reminded me of a work Christmas party, a few years back. When I knee slid across the dance floor, towards Michelle from Marketing, topless, with a shot of tequila balanced on each nipple! Only to realise, at the last second, that my belle was deep in conversation with Dan from Sales.  A man it transpired, she would later go home with, and, even later, marry.

My overtures were in vain. Yes Dan has a mid range Mazda, and hasn’t endured a SINGLE disciplinary proceeding for defecating in a colleagues mug during a meeting…But still, I often wonder if my Michelle ever regrets her choice…

Indeed I was pondering what could have been, as Town broke to take the lead, realising his earlier error with Michelle, I mean shot, Ben Gladwin stroked the ball through to Jon Obika, who tucked the ball past the on rushing keeper with some aplomb.

Us home fans had barely finished celebrating when the Gills were level. The scorer, Bradley Dack has the look and demeanour of the kid who couldn’t get served when he was 16. And so took revenge on his taller/ more hairy/ better fake ID’d mates by becoming really good at football and.. What, I believe, we can fairly term, a ‘busy little ****’.

Attribute A was on display as he stroked the ball past Vigouroux, from distance a mere 30 seconds after the restart, and B came out to play not long later, during a particularly niggly exchange with Rossi Branco, that saw both perpetrators booked.

At that stage you’d have fancied Dack to finish the game from the stands, but it was Branco who ended up red carded in the second half, for a second bookable offence. That Dack high fived the Gillingham foulee as Rafa headed from his early bath says all you know about the young midfielder. Him and Dan from Sales would get on.

Either side of half time saw the two crucial incidents of this festive frolic, and due to a pressing appointment with several pints in the Legends’ Lounge I missed both.

Firstly, Gillingham took the lead, look, the highlights are on line, but needless to say, Dack played a part.

I bet he’s got a Mazda now I come to think of it.

Secondly, when I heard a cry of ‘FOXY ON THE PITCH’ go up just after the restart, I momentarily, thought Santa had belatedly answered my letters at last. Sadly, it was the animal variety of ‘Fox’, and my long held wish to see the Robinettes ‘rebooted’ with employees of the Town’s finest Gentlemen’s Establishment, remains tragically unrealised.

Before the sending off, Gills extended their lead and though Town were disappointing, a 4-1 defeat would have felt unduly harsh. Happily Dack’s penalty was saved, proving that amateur hour can affect us all.

As for the defeated home side, we shouldn’t feel too downhearted, yes we woke up suffering the hangover of defeat today, but it’s Christmas, an opportunity for hair of the dog is never far away.

Time for Burton away, and if you see me at the bar, remember to ‘OI OI OI’…

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