Snow and hail was falling, the roads were full of slush with car tracks visible in the ice ahead. It was perhaps just a wintery shower, but we’d not yet left Halifax and had an expedition up the long and winding road out of Ripponden to look forward to. The usual suspects were full of the joys of the festive season, eager to return to normality after partying hard long into the Christmas night before. It was one of our closest away games of the season with just 47 miles to travel and discuss our prospects for the game ahead.
We conquered Windy Bank as we joined the M62 without too much trouble. There was a decent amount of snow falling and settling on the roads, but once on the motorway heading into Lancashire it was fine. We’d researched the prospect of the one of the best fish and chip shops in England just opposite the ground being open and were prepared for disappointment on finding it closed, but it didn’t stop the Greetland Shayman walking around and peering through their letter box to make sure they were really closed. He returned crestfallen and startled by the size of the chippy’s new Alsatian!
Admission to Altrincham’s Moss Road ground was £19 and that gave the travelling support access to an open terrace behind the goal. The rest of the ground is pretty much covered with terrace behind the opposite goal, and a similar set up down the right-hand side of the pitch. The main stand is a good old fashioned wooden stand with wind shields either side. It’s perched on halfway with a community building that houses a bar and food kiosk to one side and a small family stand and hospitality area to the other.
The experience of a visiting supporter has dramatically changed since our last visit to Moss Road. The 53 seats allocated to away fans are now overshadowed by a seven feet high metal fence, the likes of which we’ve not seen at football grounds since the 1980’s. It partitions fans in the family stand from the away support and seriously obstructs the view for anyone needing a seat to watch the game. Even watching the game stood up on the back row, a good part of the pitch could only be viewed between the wire mesh and poorly constructed scaffolding support. The assistant safety officer was keen to point out that it’s construction was at the direction of the local authority. It was difficult to work out whether it’s primary function was to stop the travelling OAP’s fighting with the youngers in the family stand or whether, the families in the home end occasionally lost the plot and went after the traveling OAP’s. Either way, you wouldn’t accept watching a film in a cinema though such barriers at half the cost of football admission, it doesn’t look right it today’s modern football.
After a poignant address from the local clergy and the reading of the names of fans and former players who had passed away during the last twelve months, the game started with the Shaymen attacking the far end of the ground. There were few chances for either side in a comfortable first half, and the Shaymen took the lead just before the break with a free kick outside the box. Luckily for us, the family stand remained calm as a few unruly pensioners clapped loudly around us.
The second half started in similar fashion, the 460 plus travelling Shaymen were quieter than usual, perhaps the open air reduced the noise levels a little. The game changed following a free kick on the far side, near halfway it looked like it should go our way but it didn’t, and a few seconds later Alty equalised with a quick move down the left. From the point onwards, Alty dominated the game and restricted the Shaymen to just a few excursions into our end of the pitch. They won the game in injury time with another move down the left. It seemed inevitable and was perhaps a fair result.
We made a dash for it at full time, a crowd of just over 3000 was a decent turn out for our level of football. We were back in Halifax shortly after 6.00pm and reflected on our recent run of good results. A win would have put us in the play-off positions, a loss leaves us in fourteenth place. It’s fine margins but there’s hope for 2023.
Next up and we’re off to the seaside with a visit to Torquay in the new year. We will get a decent view and they allow children to enter the ground with crisps and soft drinks, how refreshing!
Miles on the road 4943, Goals on the road 13.
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