It was all going rather well; we’d breezed down to our favourite Northamptonshire breakfast stop in no time and eaten them out of house and home before the Greetland Shayman suddenly brought the restaurant to a standstill. “You can keep the change,” he announced handing over our pooled contributions to the waitress with a smile. “Are you sure?” she enquired looking at the handful of cash. “Yes, quite sure,” was the Shayman’s assured reply. To give the waitress credit she confirmed that she would bring our change rather than accept the tip until the Greetland Shayman insisted for a third time. That’ll teach Tesco Pete to put a £20 note on the table instead of £10!
You just can’t win with the traffic; we were on course to complete the 235-mile journey south soon after Noon if the sat nav was to be believed as we returned to the car to continue our journey. We spent almost six hours on the road with various lane closures, traffic jams and detours around the suburbs of outer London. Nothing seems simple these days when it comes to planning a grand day out. The Navigator reminisced about the good old days whilst we waited in various queues of traffic, bemoaning the current situation with 35 million cars on the counties’ roads these days. Who’d be a football fan?
Aldershot’s Recreation Ground is one of our favourite places to watch football and their reprieve from relegation at the end of last season was very much welcome. The club operate a soft segregation policy which allowed the 70 or so travelling Shaymen the freedom to wander around the colourful ground. The main stand which was opened in 1932 houses a mixture of seats and terracing under a red and blue painted corrugated iron roof. A wooden stand on the other side of the pitch is equally interesting, opened in 1929 and houses long since abandoned turnstiles to the rear. Most of the home fans gathered behind the far goal on the terraces under a low barrel shaped asbestos roof at the park end. The travelling Shaymen were allocated seats in a small and much more modern stand behind the goal at the wooded high street end.
The first half had only just started when the Shaymen conceded a soft goal from a corner. There was less than a minute on the clock before the ball hit the back of the net right under our noses. The home team had the lion’s share of the possession throughout the opening half and could easily have had a commanding lead at half time. Sam Johnson made one great save low down whilst on another occasion Aldershot looked to have scored again before the ball pinged back off the far post before it was cleared.
The second half started in similar fashion and there wasn’t much to cheer as Aldershot looked comfortable with their drum accompanying the home support in full voice. Most of the action was at the far end of the pitch with the backdrop of numerous trees just starting to lose their green summer colour. As the half wore on, the Shaymen began to come to life and created several chances generating plenty of noise from travelling support. The linesman was the centre of attention with around 15 minutes to go, surely the Shaymen had equalised? It looked like the ball had crossed the line before being cleared as everyone was on their feet remonstrating. Moments later it was all square though, a great header from the subsequent corner had us all celebrating. For the final 10 minutes it was all Halifax, if only the team had started the way they finished it would have been a very different afternoon.
Driving back and there was a sense of relief in the car. The tension and frustration had been building all afternoon after the poor start and it wasn’t a great game as both sides looked tired at times. In truth, much of the afternoon’s angst had disappeared with the late equaliser and subsequent rally. Things seemed much brighter as we considered the first five games as a whole and worked out that at the current ratio, we would end up with 90 points. It’s not been a bad start to be fair!
Next up and we’re heading north to one of our ‘local’ games, we seem to have done well at Barrow in recent times. We’re on the lookout for our ex-loanee Scott Quigley whilst Tesco Pete will make sure he sorts the bill out for breakfast next time!
Total goals on the road 5, total miles 1107 – C’mon Shaymen!
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