It was raining heavily when we woke up, raining when we set off, raining during our usual breakfast stop and still chucking it down as we crawled around the M25. To make matter worse, the Boisterous Shayman, aka my older brother, was joining us for a rare away trip; it wasn’t his company that was the problem, but five hours of his ‘music’. Genuinely he thought we’d all appreciate Kyle Minogue and Rick Astley at high volume as much as he does. There was little surprise when Tesco Pete finally snapped on the back seat. “There’s a pitch inspection at 1:30” he announced looking at his mobile phone. We all knew it was the start of a wind up, well all except the 1980’s DJ in the front passenger seat… It’s fair to say he was less than happy to find out it was all a joke at his expense.
Aldershot’s Recreation ground is a proper old-fashioned football ground. You enter on the High Street and then must walk up steep wooded paths to pitch level behind the goal. The stands have been there for years, all painted with bright red and blue paint. The opposite end of the ground houses the home fans in a covered terrace with a barrel shaped corrugated asbestos roof. Tall old-fashioned floodlights dominated the corners amongst a sea of colourful autumn trees.
With the travelling Shaymen allocated the final block of seats in the wooden stand alongside the pitch, Tesco Pete used all his mathematical skills to count each visiting fan. To give him credit, he accurately counted all 52 supporters without the need to take his shoes and socks off! Curiously though, the Positive Shayman, with his big Yorkshire flag, was operating undercover in the home end behind the goal. Perhaps hedging his bets on who would win or maybe just seeking a better view?
Watching the Shaymen away is not just about the football. Sitting amongst a familiar group of people where everyone knows each other’s faces, but few know more than a couple of names provides a homely feel. The comments and one-liners bouncing around the stand are priceless, sometimes directed at the officials, sometimes at the opposition and occasionally at the team. It’s entertainment at its finest, you don’t ever get this much fun in the rest of your life.
At half time Aldershot were two goals up, tackles were flying in, there were puddles down one side of the pitch and the floodlights beamed down on a chilly afternoon. The Unlucky Shayman was incredulous, “We’re not out of it, but we’re not in it either,” he claimed. It was difficult to watch, the Shaymen were exciting going forward but unpredictable at the back. The Unlucky Shayman was also bemoaning his fate again; he’s not seen the Shaymen win away for years despite being a familiar face on the road. Every time he can’t go, the team win, every time he travels, well you know the rest…
The second half was more of the same; Aldershot scored another goal soon after the restart accompanied by someone in the away end humming the circus theme tune. In contrast, at times the Shaymen still looked capable of getting back into the game with good vocal support from the travelling fans. The game was end to end at times, entertaining but equally frustrating. In the end, it could have been 3-3 but with some bad luck, poor finishing and some very dodgy defending at times, Aldershot won the game comfortably.
Driving back and it was difficult to decide if we should count how many points off the play-offs the team are or be more aware of the bottom four. It’s turning into an entertaining season with progress being made from last season but equally problems with similar vulnerabilities. We gave the referee 5 out of 10, his best moment was accidently blowing his whistle and stopping the game for no reason whatsoever, and he seemed to take an age to work out what he needed to do next to restart the game. Our unanimous man of the match was Hanson and I was happy to take the winnings for the score prediction.
Our next away league trip feels almost Northern, a midweek trip to the much-improved Solihull Moors, we’ll be making sure we don’t bring Kyle Minogue this time too. C’mon Shaymen!
Total miles on the road this season: 2901, total goals on the road: 7
Read more posts by Rob Brown