“I-O-Shaymen, Shaymen-I-O,” boomed Whirlwind Jim as he left the house, wrapped in his large Shaymen on Tour flag; if his neighbours weren’t awake already, they surely were now. It was well before 8.00am, dawn had just broken, and there were signs of spring in the air. Doris appeared from behind the curtain at next door’s bedroom window, shaking her head but with a quick ‘C’mon Shaymen!’ from Jim, acknowledging her presence, she was soon smiling back. It was hard to tell if they got on, or whether she had just realised we were taking him away for the day!
We had a slight detour in mind as we headed South on the 197-mile journey down the M1. The first destination was our usual Northamptonshire breakfast stop, but from there we continued right to the end of the M1 with the opportunity to watch the first half of Hendon Town against Western-Super-Mare.
We were warmly welcomed at Hendon, just £12 admission and even though it was well before 1.00pm, the club’s volunteers were in full swing. Just inside the turnstiles you could pick up a free programme from games of yesteryear. There was a great merchandise stall selling pin badges, old player shirts alongside replica shirts, and hats and scarves. The Tea hut was in business too. In a flash, the Warley Shayman had disappeared, heading straight to the club’s bar.
Inside the bar, the Warley Shayman was deep in conversation, he bumped into an old friend, the famous long distance runner and ex-world record holder Dave Bedford. Dave was selling the half time draw tickets, and in fairness, we weren’t going to outrun him, so we each agreed to buy a ticket. The first half was entertaining, two early goals on a brand new 3G pitch. The Wembley Arch visible from one end of the ground, the other had a decent view at the back of the stand across nearby parkland. It’s a really decent club to visit if you’re ever down there.
We legged it at half-time to Meadow Park, the home of Boreham Wood, completing the seven or so miles in about 20 minutes The airport style security was again in force as we approached the turnstiles. Each bag was allocated a blue label to indicate it had been cleared, and a wheelie bin blocked the pathway, hungry for any dangerous refreshments supporters might try to bring in. Admission was £20 to stand behind the goal or sit in the seats down towards the half-way line at one side of the pitch.
The first half was dominated by the home side, they took the lead after 10 minutes with a decent goal, following a run from the half-way line. Boreham Wood created more chances with numerous corners, crosses, and shots. It was perhaps a relief that there was only one goal in it at the break.
The 29 travelling Shaymen gathered behind the goal for the second half as the team kicked towards us. The rest of the ground was sparsely populated with most of the home support behind the far goal on the recently opened North Bank stand. Within five minutes of the restart, the Shaymen had created more chances than in the entire first half. A good free kick had the goalkeeper at full stretch touching the ball out for a corner. More attacks followed, as the momentum of the game started to shift. There were scenes of great delight not long later, Milli Alli hit a ball at the edge of the area that whacked the post with a real thump before flying around the goal line into the back of the net.
The rest of the half was a real battle. Every attack by Boreham Wood was thwarted at the far end, whilst the Shaymen came close on a number of occasions looking for a winner at our end of the ground. There was another tremendous cheer in added time, not a goal, but perhaps the first free kick of the half awarded in our favour. It was that sort of battle.
The team were greeted with universal applause at full time, everyone seemed happy as they clapped the team off for another well deserved point. That’s now just one defeat in the last five away games, a good return following some very tricky games.
Next up, it’s the excitement of a new destination, Dorking Wanderers, I-O-Shaymen, Shaymen-I-O
Miles on the road 7408, Goals on the road 18.
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