It was all rather mundane to be honest; Tesco Pete was his usual chatty self with his mobile phone welded to his hand, the Ripponden Shayman was spouting out random directions from the back seat and the Clayton Shayman was busy telling us about the good old days when it would only take three days to get to an away game crossing the Pennines by horse and cart… In truth, nobody was really listening to anybody as we turned into the impressive Mill Farm Sports Complex on a wet and sometimes wild Saturday morning and then the excitement started….
With plans for a swift exit at full time to get to another game for 3.00 pm, we arrived at Fylde early to find a good parking spot. There are many different parking opportunities within the complex but, as usual, the Ripponden Shayman directed us down the wrong cul-de-sac. There was nothing in the rear-view mirror as we started to reverse out but a sudden and very loud car horn behind us even distracted Tesco Pete momentarily as we stopped suddenly. With a quick U turn and with an apologetic wave at the other driver we were soon heading to the correct car park thinking that was that…
“I’ve got his registration on my dash cam!” shouted a guy as he approached a nearby steward, “He’s reversed into my car and driven off,” he continued. It’s fair to say we were all a little perplexed as I introduced myself as the alleged driver of the getaway car. You can only imagine the fun we had in the next five minutes using our diplomatic skills to carefully explain that at no time had our cars made contact. It’s difficult to know if we all agreed at the end of the conversation but without any offer to view his car or dash cam information, he must have accepted our version of events and we parted on good terms.
Fylde’s Mill Farm ground is a relatively new facility; it was opened in 2016 and has a capacity of 6000. The main stand is impressive with 2000 comfortable seats; it has an iconic clock high up above the halfway line which sits amongst large white letters spelling out the club’s name. There are offices and hospitality suites too all under a curved roof. The travelling Shaymen were allocated one end of the ground, a covered terrace with a capacity of 1000 as well as the first block of seats in the main stand. The other end is open with a tarmac surface. The far side of the ground has another full-length covered terrace for the home fans. There are unique curved floodlight pylons reaching over the low roof adding some extra interest too.
The first half had that end of season feel in a strong blustery wind with leaden grey skies above. Fylde had their top scorer on the bench with their place in the play-offs secure as both sides played attacking football. Two goals in quick succession midway through the half gave the 400 or so travelling fans something to cheer about. The first a looping header, the second an own goal deflected high into the back of the net. The second half was more of the same, there were chances for both sides, but the result never looked in doubt.
At full time we headed at full speed 10 miles down the road to Longridge Town to see if they could win the North West Counties Division 1 North title. It wasn’t that we had any affiliation to the club, just that we’d all rather be watching football at 3.00 pm on a Saturday afternoon than sat at home watching telly. The club were welcoming, serving tea and coffee in real mugs and playing good football. In the end their destiny relied on another team (Avro FC) not winning their last game away. With the score at 4-1 to Longridge and the game entering injury time there was a big cheer amongst the 200 or so fans as news came in of a goal against Avro. There was real elation a few moments later as their promotion was confirmed.
Driving back home and we reflected on an interesting season. We’ve seen more goals on the road than last year, travelled more miles too but only witnessed two big defeats at Maidenhead and Ebbsfleet. We’ve seen wins for the first time at Braintree, Eastleigh and Fylde. Harrogate won our nomination for the worst chips in the world ever, whilst Barnet provided us with the best experience for away fans. Our favourite game of the season was Leyton Orient, it wasn’t the result, it was the commitment the team showed against a very good team and worthy winners of our league. We’ve met some real characters too that follow the club on away games, many from the south of England, with everyone knowing each other if not by name then by sight. Overall, we’ve had fun this year and witnessed some unexpected results, it’s going to be a long summer but I’m sure we’ll all be raring to go again in August.
Total miles on the road this season: 8165, total league goals on the road: 21
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