It was perhaps superstition, saving the planet or just routine. Our usual meeting place was just over a mile from the Horsfall Stadium but instead of all driving there separately, all the usual suspects arrived as normal, and we set off together in one car. The Clayton Shayman thought we were mad, he turned down the opportunity to join us and sit in the middle of the back seat for our epic journey east.
Traffic was busy as it was just after rush hour; the car headlights were dazzling in the cold night sky but eventually someone flashed their main beams, allowing us to turn right. The old lady at the pelican crossing outside the supermarket was far too slow pressing the button to catch us out. We crossed just as the traffic lights reached amber. If we’d have set off just a moment later she’d have stopped us and perhaps doubled our journey time. A lucky escape, we all agreed.
Eight seconds later and we arrived at the local chippy; it wasn’t as good as our normal breakfast stop but as takeaways go, it was good. With our food wrapped up we were off again. Another 300 yards then a right turn against the traffic and we were there. With news that the club’s car park wasn’t free for this game, we took the option to pick one of the last spots on the street outside the ground. Thoughts soon turned to the Clayton Shayman who had refused our generous offer of a lift, we chuckled at the prospect of him paying £3.00 to park up, he’s a real Yorkshireman too!
Bradford Park Avenue’s Horsfall stadium has had a major transformation since our last visit. The old bumpy grass pitch has been replaced with an artificial 3G surface. The biggest dugouts in football have been moved from in front of the main stand and are now much smaller, repositioned on the opposite side outside the changing rooms. Spectators sitting in the white seats in the main stand can now see all the pitch. A perimeter fence has been constructed around the playing surface allowing spectators to watch the game up close whilst standing on the running track. It’s a much-improved experience watching football there now. There is also further construction in progress around the hospitality side of the club, all good news.
At half time the Shaymen were 2-1 down, they had dominated the first half, scored a goal to equalise but then conceded another just on half time. Bradford had only had a couple of attempts but made them count. The local youth choral society were out in force supporting their team, their drum was perhaps slightly too loud to really hear those members playing the recorders and triangles clearly though. Their best song was ‘You’re just a small town with an Acca (Acapulco night club), praise indeed.
The second half was more of the same, the Shaymen dominated, scored a great equaliser but conceded a third in the 90th minute. That really got the choral society excited and led to a good few of the 400 or so travelling Shaymen testing out the running track as they headed for the exit at record speed. In the last moment of injury time, the Shaymen equalised with a header from a free kick, again the running track was busy, this time for those who had disappeared early to run back in. To be fair a good few looked sheepish as they stood watching the Shaymen win on penalties, scoring all five kicks.
Driving back and we were home in no time with only a few minutes to discuss the next round against Alfreton and a battle against our former manager Billy Heath. He surely deserves a great reception having led the club to promotion at the very first attempt. Who could ever forget those magnificent play-off wins against Salford and Chorley?
Next up and we’re off to Chesterfield for a top of the table game. We had a great result there the last time we travelled. Let’s hope for more of the same. Merry Christmas!
Goals on the road 16, miles 4914, c’mon Shaymen!
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