DejaVu are invited into Peter Stringfellows V.I.P pad no less, just what did happen that night?
Now one thing we pride ourselves as doing as a group, is celebrating each other’s birthdays in the best possible way, and wherever possible, making the plans around the Stags away games.
This was such a perfect situation, the Stags were away in the capital, and it was also assistant editor Ian and Pirate’s (he can usually be found selling the fanzine behind the North Stand) birthdays. So as usual when the fixtures came out, a quick look to match away games up with Birthdays, came up with the idea of London for the night. Again as the date approached, the plans came into operation, and I don’t know who suggested it, it may even have been me, but the idea of visiting the world famous stringfellows nightclub was thought out, and without even giving it much thought, within days of it only being an idea, we had booked a table!!
Train tickets were also booked for all 8 of us to go (the others were Gav, Pem, Bowyer, Ronaldo, and Mellors, ok so it means didly squat to you, but as I refer to them in this piece, at least you’ll have half an idea of who I’m talking about!), at just £12 return each between Nottingham and London, the guy in the travel agents (hyde Barker for the quick name drop, that surely is worth a 10% discount next time!!) reeled the times off that we could leave, half 11, half 10, or 7 o clock, without hesitation, the 7 o clock idea seemed a good idea, and was promptly booked. Now, when you sitting there, sat comfortably in the nice warm hyde barker office (20% by now surely!!), and thinking “mmm we’ll be there for 9, plenty of time to sort yourselves out”, you don’t think of the consequence of getting up at half 4, and the hassle of getting to Notts to catch the damn train. Still, as usual we managed it, and before you knew it, we were standing in the main departure lounge at the train station, the wallets were loaded, newspapers brought, and the odd banana brought for breakfast, I personally settled on the greasy spoon option from the café nearby. You’d have thought that after the awful breakfast we’d encountered there before (see previous issues!), that I wouldn’t bother, but o no, in I go for a tub of lard cob, bloody awful, but after finishing it off, it was aboard the early morning express down to the capital.
We weren’t the only ones either, as around another dozen or so stags fans boarded the same train. In next to no time the cans were being ripped open as if there was a cash prize inside, they were guzzled down the neck just as quick. In next to no time, we were chugging into St pancras station, and ready for the big challenge of the day, negotiating the difficult tube network, which always provides great hilarity. Our hotel was situated in north London somewhere, and believe me that’s all the directions we had, although it emerged that one of our lot knew the tube station we needed to head to, and from there we needed to ask the locals! After taking a couple of wrong tubes/lines, call it whatever you will (I’m sure the sight of 8 blokes with weekend bag’s hopping from one train heading one way, jumping off and back onto one going the other, must have provided the tourists with some light hearted weekend entertainment!), we eventually made it to our targeted destination, Bayswater I think it was, and we all then proceeded to hang around the station outside, waiting for someone to take charge and point us in the direction of the hotel. What happened next didn’t exactly fill us with confidence as someone piped up “right we have to look for a white building, as that will be our hotel”, jesus Christ, I thought to myself, a white building, brilliant, we all looked skywards, not for a white building, but I’m sure for divine inspiration!!
Luckily after scouting through his bag, Ronaldo found the name of the hotel out for us, and after spending half an hour going round in a circle, and generally farting about, plus asking 40 people to help us, we eventually reached the hotel, only to find that during our period of farting about, we had indeed only just been round the corner from it. In we piled to the hotel, to be met by a man of Romanian origin that spoke very little English, in fact his only words were “bags there”, whilst pointing to a room opposite reception, we took this to mean – you can’t check in yet, come back later, and leave your bag’s in there-, so we did and headed off back out, seeing as the time was around half 10, it was decided that we’d head to Leicester Square for a beverage or several before going to the game. Luckily we had got the knack of the tube system by now and were in Leicester Sq. in no time at all. Bowyer had been in this area not long ago, so he was volunteered to become tour guide for the morning ahead, first stop was Yates’s, where we were that early, they were setting up, I decided to help them by switching the bandits on, as I fancied wasting a pound or two, I was just switching on the 3rd one when a voice piped up “you shouldn’t be doing that as you won’t be covered if you electrocute yourself”, blimey I was only flicking a switch, not performing a bypass on them, bloody health and safety!From Yates’s we headed up to Covent Garden where we’d drunk previously the last time Stags were down this way, QPR I believe, and completely forgetting the underground station closed up there on Saturday afternoons, proceeded to drink far beyond a decent time limit in order to get to the ground in time. We eventually found out where to catch a tube from, so we managed to make up for lost time, although as there was no toilets in the station, a rather rushed and embarrassing tiddle outside a Ladbrokes window followed, (shouldn’t be tried at home!)
This took up a little time and the fact Ronaldo broke the turnstile for the tube on the way, but in what seemed like no time at all, we were suddenly walking up to the matchroom stadium (not sure why it’s called that, indeed the first time I went there, I half expected a free game of snooker before taking my seat!) Luckily the price wasn’t too bad, £16 for the 3rd division is half expected these days, although the wooden seats weren’t good value for the amount handed over. All the talk around the healthy away following, was that Liam had gone, although the rumours out on loan and for £150,000 were 50/50 in number. I had missed the win the stags secured on their last visit here, meaning I had seen the number of defeats the years previous to that had offered, and with the absence of Liam, my hopes weren’t high for this one. In truth the game was 2nd in priority for our weekend in London, but with the Stags needing the points at the top of the table we began to get behind the lads. An entertaining first half, should have seen the Stags head in at the break in the lead, but Junior saw his scrambled effort somehow blocked from just 2 yards right on the stroke of half time. All this followed Buxton getting a fine headed equalizer to put us level after the home side went into the lead thanks to a bit of slack defending from the Stags defence, after they failed to clear a long throw in.
The miss from Junior came back to haunt us during a second period, in which we could best be described as being second best, and at worst, pathetic, just how much did that bloody chance cost us, I suppose we’ll never know. Things were getting a bit heated in the seats at the back of the away end, a couple of younger lads, climbed onto the fence segregating the fans, much to the annoyance of the home crowd at the other side, mind you, they weren’t completely blameless as the home lot baited us at every given opportunity, adding fuel to the fire, meanwhile the stewards struggled to get a grip on what day it was. Orient’s performance in the 2nd half was more superior to our effort, although the game wasn’t much of a spectacle to be fair, Orient were looking the more likelier to take the game, and indeed they did in the final 20 minutes, first Newey then Alexander with his second of the game, put the game beyond our reach. There was still time for Day to have an effort ruled out for someone else pushing in the area, and still time further for another scramble that ended up being cleared off the line for the home side. So for the 2nd time this season, the absence of Liam provided all the talking points, and led people to point to his absence as the reason we didn’t win. To be fair we left everyone to discuss it, whilst we made a sharp exit back down the high st, ready to return and get changed back at the hotel Once at the hotel, it was time to don the suits and prepare for the trip to Pete’s place (stringfellows), my suit had been washed the day before, I’d gone against strong advice of using the dry cleaners, and instead had used the tumble drier at home, so after spending about an hour ironing the creases out, I was ready in reception waiting for the others.
Luckily it wasn’t long before everybody else came out, and with a couple of hours to kill before we had to be at Stringfellows, the only option had to be the pub I suppose. There was luckily one near to the tube station and not far from the hotel, so it seemed as good a place as any to start. It was leaving this public house, that bez and mellors were to have an unfortunate encounter with a premiersh*t footballer, not knowing this at the time I think, bez had heard the fellow in question say to his model looking girlfriend, “o my god we’ve got off at the wrong bloody station”, to which bez and mellors for some reason known only to them, hit back with “ahhh, silly b******”, before walking through the turnstiles at the entrance very quickly and leaving us to laugh at their antics, oh the player in question, it was only Stefan Iverson ( I think that’s how you spell it!, I don’t go in for all this research nonsense!). Firstly, we had to find Stringfellows, to do this, we thought, find the place first, then head to a bar nearby, so we did, of course prices for bottles in pubs in London were high, £3.30 for a San Miguel (it was like being back on holiday, but not quite!), were the cheapest option, such was the area that we were drinking in, any change was handed back on a small saucer, mellors bless him, doesn’t get out much, and at one point, we had to tell him to take the saucer back to the bar, as it was meant as a means of tipping the bar staff!
A couple of bottles later and it was time to head into Stringfellows itself, to be honest we are obviously a bit apprehensive as to what to expect, apart from the bleeding obvious, such is the exclusive feel to the place. As we had booked a table, we were allowed straight in, led to the restaurant bit, told to sit down, and order the meal, I won’t go into too much detail from here on in, I think most of you will know what happens in there, some will think its another place for seedy old men to go and leer at beautiful women, you are wrong, we aren’t that old! One of the main surprises of our evening, was the great man himself, THE MR PETER STRINGFELLOW coming over just after our meal, wishing us the best of luck, shaking hands, and generally being an all round nice guy, what a fellow, mind you, I’m sure the £330 table bill we had just handed over went someway to his generosity although he didn’t have to do that, and was jolly decent of him. He even allowed one of his bouncers to let us in the VIP area downstairs for half an hour, although this was probably because their was no celebrities in there at the time, good job, as bez and mellors may have abused them anyway! We must have been in there for a good 2 and a half hours, before everyone was realising the wallets were being emptied, just a little too quickly, so we made our excuses and left around half 11.
From there, things get a bit hazy, understandably. I brought a Sunday paper before midnight from a dodgy bloke at a kiosk (!!??), they were out early!! We were spanked £5 each by some dodgy bloke in a bow tie, who promised to get us into an exclusive nightclub, by taking us straight to the front of the queue, he’d already walked off with our £40, when we were just coming round to the fact that as we walked through the door, there A) wasn’t a queue, and B) everybody else was being let in for free anyway!! The club was crowded to say the least, we headed downstairs, and it’s fair to say the damn thing was over capacity, by the looks of things, it was the size of my lounge at home, and with 100 people in, it was a little crowded. I remember going off on one around 2 o clock, over a ham baggle that never arrived in a baggle takeaway in Leicester Square, the fact is I may not even have ordered one, but to add effect, I slammed the door on the way out, muttering the fact that I’d never shop there again for my baggles! We all headed off wearily to the hotel just after this, and back to a well-earned bed, ready for the journey home on the Sunday. Breakfast at the hotel consisted of a slice of bread, and errr, that was it, so we didn’t bother, instead opting for the healthy option of crisps and larger on the train on the way home. The last remains of the wallet were emptied along the way, in Nottingham then Mansfield, and whilst the wallet may never recover, the memories of a fantastic weekend will never fade, oh the stags lost 3-1 by the way!