I’m sure they call it the January blues, it seems ages since our last away day victory at Aldershot; the relegation places are getting closer, it’s still dark when we set off, it’s dark when we drive back, and it’s always cold, wet and windy. The Ripponden Shayman had deserted us in favour of a winter sunshine break in Cleethorpes and to cap it all, Tesco Pete was miserable having twisted his ankle the night before whilst out jogging. In truth we needed cheering up for our long journey and we knew just the right person to call – the Positive Shayman with his big blue and white flag!
Fresh tulips with blue and white ribbons, you’ve got to give the Greetland Shayman credit, he seems to have moved up to level four in the romance stakes and was off like a flash when we arrived at our usual breakfast stop. We suspected his secret assignation was pre-arranged, “See you guys in 40 minutes,” he shouted back down the path to us as he headed towards the “Goods In” door by the staff only entrance. The Positive Shayman was bemused, “You’d have thought he might have borrowed my big flag too, she’d be well impressed with that!”
Just five hours and 30 minutes after setting off we arrived at Bromley’s Hayes Lane ground. It has a capacity of 5000, with a little under 1500 seats. The stadium is a good old-fashioned football ground with lots of open concrete terracing and some wonderful old wooden benches behind one of the goals. The main stand is modern with around 300 seats on the halfway line and fans can also find some cover under the low roof at the back of the terracing behind each goal, one of which has four rows of white plastic seating. The pitch has been modernised last summer, the grass replaced with a neat 3G pitch and is now available for community use.
With an admission price of just £15 and no segregation the club seemed relaxed and very welcoming to the travelling Shaymen. The club shop was well stocked, there were a good few places to get refreshments and it didn’t take Tesco Pete long to spot a pizza kiosk. You could buy one of those cheese and tomato 9-inch value frozen pizzas with a colourful cardboard box and only pay £5…
The first half was an even contest, the strong wind and rain made it difficult but both teams had chances. Great entertainment was had with the Positive Shayman parading his big blue and white flag across the front of the terrace under the noses of vocal young home support. “Who’s the Shayman with the flag?” they sang to him and he was delighted as he’d never had his own song before. He was full of smiles even if it wasn’t ‘Shayman’ they were singing… A catchy tune though.
The second half started very unfairly, Bromley restarted the game and wouldn’t give us the ball back. Pass after pass the Bromley team found their man each time and looked so much better than they did in the first half. Within ten minutes they had scored three goals, the third seeming slightly strange as we couldn’t see from the far end whether it had crossed the line and the home fans didn’t seem too excited either. The rest of the game was uneventful with only Sam Johnson keeping the score down with some good saves. There were at least 100 travelling Shaymen but with nothing much to shout about it seemed a fair result.
Driving back and it was a little subdued, some of the teams around us had picked up points whilst others had also lost. It didn’t take long though for the Positive Shayman to cheer us all up with a story about the day Fulham came to the Shay back in the early 1970’s. A 2-1 home win and a bonkers big crowd, the long trip home seemed to pass by in a flash.
Next up get your passports ready, we’re off to Wrexham, a local(ish) game at last.
Total miles on the road this season: 5586, total goals on the road: 12.
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