Well that’s it, we’ve past the autumn equinox, and it’s all downhill from here. It’s harder to get out of bed, it’s harder to find the motivation, and it’s harder to keep driving south almost every week. In truth, we all keep each other going, he’s going because I’m going, I’m only going because he’s going, and nobody wants to own up and say it’s flippin’ hard being a football fan in the National League these days. On the positive side, the Ripponden Shayman was full of beans – it was his first visit to Bromley, so he was well up for it!
The reality of any trip down south are the mood swings mile by mile, the more we talk about the week’s football events and the closer we get to the ground, the more the enthusiasm grows. An ‘all you can eat’ full English breakfast generated some serious interest again and, for once, the roads were relatively clear.
The most exciting part of our 235-mile journey south was the last 10 miles as we drove through the busy streets of inner London; as chance would have it, we managed to roll up just behind the team bus at a roundabout in Kent. The Greetland Shayman was suddenly mad keen to wave his scarf out of the car window and show his support but for him to do that, we needed to get past the bus first. You can only imagine the look on Tesco Pete’s face when the Ripponden Shayman aka ‘1966 Navigator of the Year’ piped up with “I know a short cut, turn right up here, we’ll beat the bus to the high street, he can’t go down residential streets like we can.” It was all going rather well until he misdirected us into a very busy supermarket car park. Still it killed 30 minutes and we were early anyway.
It all sounded hi-tech when we looked on line mid-week; Bromley were offering a substantial discount on the usual £18 admission price with a new-fangled digital e-ticket. For paying up-front and showing your mobile phone at the gate you could make a serious £3 saving. It all seemed too good to be true and to give the Greetland Shayman credit he’d taken the precaution of printing his own receipt just in case. The reality at the ground was that nothing much had changed. The old-fashioned iron turnstiles were still clanking away, operated by an old boy who pressed a foot pedal when you gave him cash, the only difference was that Bromley had a found a young volunteer who knew more about IT than the rest of us put together. He scanned your phone and then the stewards let you in though the back gate, technology at its finest.
Bromley’s Hayes Lane ground is currently being redeveloped, the rickety old stand behind the far goal has been demolished and is now a building site. The ground is about to be transformed with the development of a 1450 seat new stand. In context, the current main stand has just 285 seats of which around half are reserved for officials and media. The rest of the ground still retains its 1930’s charm, big concrete terracing down one side and a half-covered terrace behind the other goal make up the supporter’s accommodation. The pitch is a modern 3G surface which is also used by the community.
At half time the Shaymen were a goal behind, a penalty given away at the far end of the ground. It seemed a little clumsy from distance, but the referee seemed to have made the correct decision. Sam Johnson did well to save the spot kick, but Bromley scored when the shot was tipped onto the post and the ball rolled back across the goal line to be tapped in unopposed. In fairness, the home side was fortunate to be leading; Halifax had good possession, created chances but lacked that finishing touch. It wasn’t a great half to watch in the hot sunshine.
The second half was more of the same, lots of endeavour and not too much quality. Around 80 or so travelling Shaymen made the trip and gathered towards the corner flag near the building site end. We were rewarded with an equaliser as we watched with our hands shielding our eyes with the bright sunshine beating down. With 10 minutes to go Bromley scored again, it was a decent goal and our afternoon looked like it was going to end in defeat. Credit to the referee on the day though, he allowed over 10 minutes of additional time during the game for stoppages and time wasting. The Shaymen equalised in the second minute of the six added in the second half and we left the ground happy.
Driving back and the sun set before we left the M25. We weren’t sure if it was a point gained or two points dropped; it was one of those sorts of games. You can never say a point away from home was a bad outcome. Our last two visits to Bromley had ended with two defeats and no goals so it wasn’t too bad. We gave the referee a good 8 out of 10 but couldn’t agree on a Man of the Match.
Next up yet another trip down south, Aldershot this time. We won there last season so we’re full of confidence for another away win. C’mon Shaymen!
Total miles on the road this season: 2433, total goals on the road: 7
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