There was a distinctive crunch whilst walking across the grass in the front garden, and the windscreen glistened in the first rays of the rising sun. The first overnight frost of the autumn was here, so I was quick to do battle with the ice scraper before the usual suspects arrived. We had 234 miles ahead of us on one of those iconic days of watery sun, clear skies, and an occasion breeze that would cut right through you without any notice.
The motorways were reasonably clear, but the low sun made it difficult to see anything other than a silhouette of the vehicle in front. Occasionally, to break the monotony, bright red brake lights would suddenly appear forcing us to slow abruptly and disturb the old boys from snoring loudly on the back seat. It’s fair to say it was an enthralling, dynamic and entertaining start to the day. With our favourite Northamptonshire breakfast stop again out of action, we were left with the only option of Milton Keynes. It was that kind of day.
Arriving in Aldershot just after 1.00 pm, we bagged the nearest free parking spot to the ground. With an adult admission of £20 in advance we entered though shared turnstiles for both home and away fans. Segregation was relaxed, and we were free to wander around the colourful footpaths, exploring the various stands painted red and blue, locating refreshments, and ultimately heading to a block of seating alongside the pitch designated for away fans.
Tesco Pete was aghast as he appeared from the direction of the tea hut, clutching the half-eaten remains of a double burger and bacon, ‘Guess how much they charged me for this?’ he asked, pausing for a second between bites. The real question was not how daft the prices were, but how daft were the customers for paying them! At £9.50 it did seem less value than the ‘all you could eat breakfast for £9.99’ we had just consumed little more than an hour before. These food critics have a job to do though, so we felt it best just to console him. At least he didn’t get caught out with the £1.50 bottle of coke for £3.00 trick this time…
With the sun casting long shadows between the golden coloured trees the game kicked off with the Shaymen attacking the noisy home end. It was an even half with the best chance coming from an Alli shot outside the box that whacked the corner of the crossbar and post. The keeper was nowhere near it. The 67 travelling Shaymen around us were vocal with their support, keen to advise the linesman whenever he may have missed something. Goalless at half time seemed fair and reasonable.
The second half started with the floodlights taking over from the disappearing daylight. The Shots had more of the game, egged on by a decent drummer and good vocal support. Johnson had little to do though as the Shaymen looked for chances on the break. The referee dominated much of the second half booking six home players, the home bench and two Town players. The game was stop start, and injured players were permitted to walk across the entire width of the pitch to be substituted rather than exit by the nearest touchline. The additional eight minutes of injury time wasn’t much of a surprise. Town were only 30 seconds from a creditable decent away point when disaster struck in the last few moments of the game. A Shots winner with pretty much their first decent attempt on goal.
The final whistle blew moments later with the theme tune to Happy Days being blasted around the public address system on repeat after repeat. The team deserved a point for their exploits, but football does this sometimes. Our last gasp win at Woking, our last gasp equaliser at Altrincham last season, all memorable moments for us, disaster for the opposition. It feels like the end of the world at the time but it’s why we watch football. We’ll pinch a late winner ourselves again in the future and may not deserve it.
Next up we’re on the telly again with a lunchtime visit to Gateshead, don’t forget your binoculars!
Miles on the road 3184, Goals on the road 11.
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