Oh the excitement of going somewhere new; never mind the fact it was another cold and grey mid-November morning, it was only just 8am and we had almost 240 miles ahead of us. We couldn’t wait to set off to one of the most famous non-league grounds in the country and the venue of perhaps the second biggest FA Cup upset in the 1980’s – Gander Green Lane.
With our trips down south now planned like a military operation, we arrived bang on schedule at 10:33 am at our usual ‘all you can eat’ breakfast stop. The Greetland Shayman was soon all of a dither; his favourite member of staff was on duty and had caught his eye. You could tell she remembered him as he explained that this was our fourth visit of the season. She seemed well impressed! Before long we were back in the car and about to set off when the Greetland Shaymen ‘remembered’ he’d left his jacket behind and scurried back into the restaurant. It seemed to take ages for him to collect his jacket and suddenly we were running late…!
Sutton United’s Gander Green Lane is a proper old fashioned non-league ground. With a capacity of just over 5000 it’s mainly made up of open space with new metal covered terraces behind each goal. The old athletics track has long since been removed but parts of the old terracing remain retaining the original curve of the track. The main stand, built in 1951, houses the changing rooms and over 500 wooden seats nestling behind several pillars give it a familiar feel. The pitch is a modern 3g surface giving the local community the opportunity to use it and generate additional income.
With the incessant murky rain sweeping into every area of the ground we upgraded our £15 admission fee and paid a bargain £2 transfer to the dry main stand. By half time Sutton were a goal up and it could have been more, but equally the Shaymen missed some glorious opportunities to get on the score sheet. The second half started with another goal for Sutton and the locals became more vocal. A goal for the Shaymen gave us a chance to make some noise in return. A third Sutton goal got the locals cheering again but with a missed penalty and another late goal for the Shaymen, it seemed Sutton were hanging on nervously having looked comfortable for most of the game.
Driving back and for a few moments we were disappointed, a spirited last 20 minutes could easily have earned us a point; but as the Ripponden Shayman reminisced with the Greetland Shaymen about all the club’s high and lows since the 1950’s, it seems there’s definitely nothing new about a few bad results.
Next up we’re off up north, Hartlepool on a Tuesday night, don’t forget your thermals!
Total miles on the road this season: 3332, total goals on the road: 10.
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