Phoenix from the Portaloo

Yesterday Oxford United made it five wins in six games with a battling performance away at Aldershot, a team that we had never beaten in the league before. This was my first visit to the town and was overall a very enjoyable, if somewhat surreal, experience.

The pubWe got there early to ensure we could eat somewhere other than a kebab van named “Only food and sauces” (hilarious) and get a couple of pints in. The town had a strange atmosphere to it, added too by the fact that there were twice as many police as there were shoppers. After partaking of food at a popular fast food chain we proceeded to the Crimea Pub, handily placed (we thought) opposite the ground.

We stood outside the Crimea with our pints and watched two police horses effectively stop anyone from getting in and out of the neighbouring Citroen garage. At one stage it appeared as if one of the horses was actually going to mount a C4 Picasso leading to speculation of what the off-spring of this mis-matched relationship would bring. We settled on a horse powered MPV, driven by a police officer with a fondness for sugar cubes and moved on.

We were smug in the knowledge that we had picked such a convenient pub, and were therefore surprised to find that the walk that ensued to the away end was actually the sort of walk you should get sponsored for. Let me tell you; fast food and beer is not a good foundation for hill walking.

So into the ground we went, only to find that Aldershot did not have the facilities to cope with the demands of 800 Oxford United fans. A toilet shed and a few portaloos was clearly not enough, particularly at half time.

I’m not sure what compelled me, but I filmed the portaloos and on reviewing this since, I have noticed that I inadvertently filmed one fans journey from the toilet to the stand. This was never intended and in the film you can quite clearly see him looking at me (and rightly so) as if to say ‘why the hell are you filming me’. In order to prevent myself ending up on any kind of register, I would like to apologise in full to the fan and again stress that this was entirely accidental.

We made our way to our “seats” (effectively a plastic tray on a wooden step) and witnessed a very poorly organised minutes silence. Both sets of fans, adjacent to each other, were in fine voice and no attempt was made to silence them for the Vicar’s speech. By the time the faltering tannoy got the message across that this was to be a somber moment the vicar had finished speaking. Everybody awkwardly looked at each other “Is this the actual minute’s silence, because the ref and players aren’t even on the pitch?” Nobody dared make a sound. The club decided to break this ambiguity by playing a short raucous fanfare followed by, OF ALL THE SONGS IN THE WORLD, “Alive and Kicking” by Simple Minds.

Evil Incarnate

The match began and all three of us sensed something that was unsettling our karma. We couldn’t put our finger on it until we almost simultaneously realised what was causing our unrest. It was the Phoenix; Aldershot’s mascot that stood unnervingly still for the full 90 minutes in the corner of the ground like a malevolent presence. It reminded you of a horror film where the menace lurks slightly out of focus, you blink momentarily and then the thing is right next to you.

I interpreted the Phoenix as a soothsayer of doom but the opposite was the case. In my opinion the team managed the match well, in the way that many teams have come to the Kassam to do in the past, and at times we played some lovely football with sweet interchanges. The second goal was an incredible relief as we deserved to win the match, and the assembled U’s fans went delirious.

The Phoenix did not move, but I can feel it’s brooding menace even now. I dare not look in the mirror for fear of what may be behind me.

The 12th Man


5 Responses to Phoenix from the Portaloo

  1. Ha Ha, I’ve been taking pictures of portable toilets as part of my job for years. I’ve had 100s of odd looks but no one has ever challenged me; we English are just too damn polite. 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    I loved your description of Phoenix. I’ve been down there a few times this season and find myself staring at him on the off-chance he will move (he doesn’t, of course).

    And the video of the fan was LOL funny, of course.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Doh. Excessive use of of course.

  4. haha! his reaction!

    would be a weird feeling thinking someones just filmed you going to the toilet LOL!

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