“Don’t miss the game because you didn’t allow for the Bank Holiday traffic – set off NOW!” It’s always interesting to read the social media comments and predictions over breakfast on a local(ish) away day. In all honesty we gave it a ‘like’ but couldn’t ever have imagined what a challenging drive across the Pennines it would turn out to be. We certainly didn’t expect the Positive Shayman to take his own advice, he’s famous for being late, but by 11.45am all the usual suspects were rounded up and we were on our way…
It’s fair to say there were significant problems on the various motorways with both sides of the M62 closed at different points whilst the M61 and M6 had long delays. Luckily for us we had Tesco Pete as our front seat passenger keeping us up to date with all the traffic news, detours, diversions and short cuts whilst also multi-tasking and playing his imaginary monster chasing game on his mobile phone. In truth it was no surprise we ended up down a single track, dead end on a rural country lane with Pete blaming the sat-nav; suspicions were rife from the old boys on the back seat that it was all deliberate as catching that rare Lancastrian monster seemed to be his priority…
Since our last visit to Mill Farm, soon after it opened last season, there have been some further significant developments completed on the site. A new petrol station, fast food outlet and a famous pie shop to complement the brand-new supermarket that opened at the same time as the ground. The whole project is run by the Fylde chairman and provides a real focal point for the community. There is also plenty of car parking for football supporters too, much of which is free. It’s certainly a million miles away in terms of facilities from the old ground at Kellamergh Park, which was also a major step forward from the club’s original council owned ground at Coronation Road in Kirkham. There can’t be too many other clubs that have progressed on and off the field so much since playing in the West Lancashire Leagues as recently as 2005.
Inside the new 6000 capacity stadium, approximately 450 vocal travelling Shaymen were given a good size covered terrace behind one of the goals. Also available were two blocks of seats in the impressive main stand which towers above the pitch with 2000 seats and impressive conference and hospitality facilities. Perhaps the best feature is a big white circular clock positioned right on the halfway line underneath the giant letters of the club’s name high up near the roof of the main stand. It’s great to see a new ground built with unique features when so many other new grounds appear just functional.
At half time it was goalless, Fylde had most of the possession but both teams looked reasonably well matched. We were hopeful of at least winning a point as a few of us swapped the terraces for a better view from the main stand seats as the Shaymen kicked toward the far goal in the second half.
As the second half started Fylde took the lead, it looked a soft goal from the stands, not too much power but just enough to evade lots of players in a crowded penalty box and ending up in the bottom corner. With Fylde dominating possession it was soon 2-0, with another goal scored in slow motion in front of the travelling Shaymen. It turned out to be one of those games where we couldn’t recall a decent shot on target and in fairness, Fylde won comfortably without adding any further goals to their tally.
Driving back and with the motorways still problematic, a scenic tour of the old fashion route to Blackpool in reverse seemed the best option. The Greetland and Ripponden Shaymen were soon reminiscing about past away games travelling by horse and cart along this old route before motorways were invented. Then, as the rain began to fall, and daylight faded with the gloomy, steep hills of the Lancashire Pennines looming ever closer, we talked more about the delights of the Burnley and Todmorden countryside than the football. Perhaps it was just one of those days best forgotten?
Next up we’re taking the Positive Shayman’s advice and making sure we’re not going to miss the game due to traffic, is anyone else setting off for Torquay at 5.30am or is it just us?
Total miles on the road this season: 6868, total goals on the road: 17.
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