Bright sunshine interspersed with heavy rain showers and accompanied by a wind strong enough to blow your socks off. It’s fair to say our short journey down the M1 then across the rolling Derbyshire hills was perhaps the most picturesque of the season. As we followed the twists and turns on the A roads though small villages there were fields as far as the eye could see with silvery clouds scooting across the bright sky. Less than 90 minutes later we arrived at our destination, parked up on a nearby street and set about occupying ourselves for a few hours. “We may be very early,” said the Greetland Shayman, “but at least we’ve saved ourselves a fortune on car parking charges at the ground!” You can take a man out of Yorkshire, but you can never take Yorkshire out of the man.
“Stand and deliver!” was the cry from two elderly but incredibly persuasive ladies. It was a bit like the old fashioned highwaymen in disguise but instead of taking all our money they just wanted to sell us a match day programme, I mean they really wanted to sell us a match day programme! The enthusiasm of these sisters was amazing; they were both slightly hard of hearing but they more than made up for it with a high volume sales patter. Every one of the travelling Shaymen alighting the supporter’s coach was a potential sale, and you either had to come up with a feasible excuse or buy the programme, it was a simple as that. Those two ladies were great, a real asset to their club.
Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium is their relatively new home; opened in 2010 at a cost of £13 million it’s an all seater ground with a capacity of 10,400. The ground has four separate covered stands each filled with blue seats. The main stand has corporate facilities, executive boxes and Directors seating, and behind each goal are good sized stands each with a capacity of around 2000. The near 400 travelling Shaymen were accommodated in the first two blocks of the East Stand, the facilities and view being almost identical to the experience of travelling fans at the Shay. There is plenty of leg room with around 35 rows of seats each with a good close up view of the action. In the corner of the ground, closest to the away support is an impressive and colourful electronic scoreboard.
At half time it was goalless; the bright low sunshine was a constant menace making it hard to see the sparse action at the far end as the Shaymen kicked towards the home fans. There were plenty of corners, a few free kicks but nothing to really trouble the goalkeepers and in truth it wasn’t a half to remember. The chilly wind was probably the most talked about thing during the interval.
The second half was more of the same, neither team really looked like getting a shot on target but as the sun began to set and the tall minimalist modern floodlights began to take effect, disaster struck. The referee awarded a penalty for a clumsy tackle in the box, the right call certainly, but one which decided the match as ex Shayman Scott Boden scored the penalty with ease. A final flurry in the closing 10 minutes generated some excitement amongst the travelling fans but Chesterfield hung on without too much fuss.
Driving back and the Ripponden Shayman was soon reading out the other scores and running through the league positions as we made our way home amongst the hills. It’s getting interesting now, every point is vital and the comfort gap appears to be reducing; just one win will make such a difference.
Next up and we’re off for another six-pointer; a midweek trip down South to Maidstone United and their 3G pitch. It’s going to be one of those adventures when we get back at silly o’clock in the morning too. We recorded our biggest win of the season so far in the home fixture against Maidstone so we’ll go there full of enthusiasm. C’mon Shaymen!
Total miles on the road this season: 5503, total league goals on the road: 12
Read more posts by Rob Brown