It’s that time of year again, up and on our way before daylight, scraping the frozen snow and ice of the windscreen, long johns, jumpers, hats, gloves, scarves and coats. Poor old Tesco Pete’s not happy either, we’ve elected him the social media weather watcher; tasked with keeping a constant eye on pitch inspections and postponements. You can’t trust the weather at this time of year.
You’ve got to give the Greetland Shayman credit, he’d brushed his hair, bought new shoelaces for his trainers and even dug out a bottle of his favourite aftershave, Denim for Men. It’s fair to say he was looking forward to our usual breakfast stop in Northamptonshire and bumping into his favourite waitress. His Yorkshire charm worked a treat, the portions were bigger than ever, the service was lightening quick, and in no time at all he was sorting the tip, notes this time, not coins. “When will I see you again?” she asked, “30th December, we’re taking the longer route on the way to Dover,” he replied…
Aldershot’s Recreation Ground is wonderful, four turnstiles off the main high street, three for home fans, one for the away fans; £17 allows everyone through into the same place with a colour coded ticket for the stand. Inside you can climb about 20 steps to reach the pitch level just behind the goal. Wooded paths wind slowly upwards though the trees and shrubs to emerge by each corner flag and old-fashioned terrace pens are dotted around. The away fans head down a dark passage way under an old wooden stand, past derelict and rusting old turnstiles and club house to the south stand away end.
To give the guy credit he’s in the regional finals of Security Man of the Year. “Can I see your ticket sir?” he asked as pocket by pocket I searched for my wallet “You don’t think I’m a home fan, do you?” I replied wearing my blue Halifax Town scarf and woolly hat. “I’ve got to check the colour of your ticket,” he confirmed. He soon rumbled three ‘Aldershot’ fans wearing Halifax Town shirts, singing “Billy Heath’s Barmy Army,” in a northern accent; their coloured tickets clearly gave them away as home fans as they were redirected to the home end. To be fair within five minutes it was all smiles, they’d got the wrong coloured ticket and really were travelling Shaymen after all, who’d have thought it!
At half-time the Shaymen were a goal up, playing good football, creating chances and really putting Aldershot under pressure. The goal was pure comedy; the keeper rushed out of his area to clear a good pass and completely missed his kick leaving Scott McManus the simple task of rolling the ball into the net, brilliant stuff.
The expected second half revival by the Shots never really happed; the home crowd made some noise accompanied by a talented drummer within the colourful terraces behind Sam Johnson’s goal. The Shaymen continued to chase every ball, cheered on by the 54 travelling fans. The Shots were a shadow of their visit to the Shay back in August and never looked like getting an equaliser. What excitement when the final whistle blew, three points, a clean sheet and the players celebrating a great victory in front of the away end. A terrific display.
Driving back and everyone was excited; the Ripponden Shayman had predicted a draw but was happy, the Greetland Shayman was clutching a prized phone number written on a napkin and Tesco Pete was messaging all his contacts “I love you!” I just wish he’d used his own mobile phone not mine!
Next up we’re off to Macclesfield to wish them a Merry Christmas, Shay bells ring, are you listening….
Total miles on the road this season: 4002, total goals on the road: 11.
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