“There were 33,000 in attendance the last time I visited.” reminisced the Greetland Shayman, “Halifax were held to a one all draw too.” We’ve done some daft stuff on our travels but tracking down the best chippy in the whole of Birmingham whilst driving past Villa Park on a match day comes close to being one of the daftest. The clock was ticking, traffic bumper to bumper, tensions were rising. We soon passed St Andrews, home to Birmingham city before the satnav announced, “Your destination is located just ahead.” How can a chippy just six miles from Solihull, voted the best take away in the 2016 awards, be closed on Saturday lunchtime?
It seemed like it was going to be one of those days; we finally tracked down another chippy just a mile from the ground, but the guy behind the counter was looking at me like I’d asked for a garden lawn mower and a giraffe. I tried to explain again whilst pointing at the battered fish, “fish butty, fish sandwich, fish in a tea cake” but he just looked at me and insisted they don’t sell them. It was now something past 2.00 pm; we gave up trying to work out what they call bread in the midlands and just had chips, the worst chips in the world, not just Birmingham!
Solihull’s Damson Park has been transformed since our last visit in 2013; the car park has been extended as part of a deal with their neighbours Land Rover. The open end behind the far goal is now the designated away end, with a seven step metal covered terrace running the entire width behind the goal. Two temporary blocks of seating have been installed alongside the pitch, one partly coved by a giant homemade gazebo the other seats are open but with perhaps offer the best view of the ground. You can even watch the planes landing at the nearby Birmingham Airport should the game not meet expectations.
At half time we were a goal up and playing well. Heavy rain showers had forced most of the 170 or so travelling Shaymen under cover behind the goal generating a good atmosphere. The relaxed segregation allowed us all to change ends during the break and take advantage of the wonderful old school tuck shop; all your favourite goodies at 1980’s prices, wonderful.
The second half started with a penalty to Solihull, mystic Tesco Pete called it right as Sam Johnson made a great save followed by a few minutes of Keystone Cops as the ball seemed to take ages to be cleared from the follow up. The countdown then started, 30, 20, 12, 8, 3 minutes remained as we constantly checked; it seemed like we were holding on for dear life at times. The referee then added on five minutes but it seemed like he played 10. Then the final whistle, what a relief!
Driving back and we were buzzing, up to 16th in the league table, unbeaten away from home and a nice easy home fixture next Saturday too! What a difference a win makes, Tesco Pete is even planning on digging out his big flag to fill the empty spaces for our next away day adventure too. Wonder if Fair-weather Graham will return…
Next up we’re off to Gateshead on Bank Holiday Monday, don’t forget your flags!
Total miles on the road this season 752, total Goals on the road 1.
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