Incessant rain, wind blowing, and tea-time traffic at a standstill. What’s not to like about a mid-week away game, especially after the Dorking result at the weekend? The Greetland Shayman has gone from asking for prices for promotion two weeks ago to electing to stay at home and catch up with the new episodes of Neighbours instead. Just image, a warm cup of tea, a cosy front room, perhaps a cat or two on your knee, and all the latest goings on with Kylie and Jason. Meanwhile, Tesco Pete, the Warley Shayman and I were still crawling along, having just completed two of the 62 miles of our journey, oh joy….
The traffic was stop-start all the way. The intended chippy stop was cancelled due to the galloping clock and, although the rain eased, the usual 90-minute journey turned into two plus hours. The good news was that our free secret parking space was vacant, and the local take-away was open for business. For just £3.00 you could buy a wheelbarrow full of freshly cooked chips, an offer far too good to refuse.
As darkness began to fall, we approached the ground where the floodlights were illuminated against a backdrop of fast moving dark grey skies. Admission was £22.00 in advance or an extra £2.00 on the day. Inside there was a busy concourse of travelling Shaymen, everyone milling around the food areas working out what to buy. I wouldn’t say the food was expensive, but you can now pay for your burger and cup of tea in twelve easy monthly instalments, should you wish.
The 270 odd travelling Shaymen were allocated a single block of seats at the end of a stand that runs the full length of the pitch. It was cosy, with just the occasional free seat here and there. The rest of the ground accommodated the 6000 or so home fans. There was a noisy group behind the goal at the far end, some well-to-do people in the main stand opposite, and some families scattered amongst the empty blue seats in the adjacent stand behind the other goal.
Within just a couple of minutes of the game starting, the Shaymen were a goal down. A few quick passes and a striker with perhaps too much space on the edge of the six-yard box was enough to get the home fans cheering. Midway through the first half, they scored again, this time from a free kick played into the box and headed home. Chesterfield deserved it too. The Shaymen pulled one back just before half time, a defender was dispossessed on halfway as we held our breath before Alli calmly scored. It was a relief to just be a goal behind at the break given the start the home side had made.
‘Get that drum banging and support the team!’ shouted a frustrated travelling Shayman soon after the second half started. To be fair, the drummer was straight on it, backed by some decent vocal support too. The Shaymen started the half on the front foot and deserved the backing from the stands. The second half was entertaining, exciting, and pretty much dominated by the Shaymen. An equaliser from the penalty spot was well deserved, a red card for the home team gave us hope of an unexpected winner. The league leaders were on the back foot and hanging on. The officials were unpredictable, everyone and everything seemed to get a yellow card at some point. The linesman got plenty of advice too, with all the travelling Shaymen directly inline, it didn’t take long for decisions to go the opposite way to what we expected, what do we know anyway?
Chesterfield’s late winner followed shortly after a red card for the Shaymen. It took the shine off a great second half performance. Each and every travelling fan stood and waited after the final whistle to applaud the team’s efforts as the players came across to acknowledge the support. It was one of those games where the team gave everything and were perhaps unlucky not to take at least a point from the game.
Driving back and the car was full of chatter about the game, the chances, the ifs, the buts and the maybes. It was a night of entertainment, emotion, and exhilaration, and maybe a little more exciting than watching Neighbours…
Next up, we’re off to Barnet, another tricky away fixture, can’t wait.
Miles on the road 804, Goals on the road 5.
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