We were gathered around the gleaming white tables waiting quietly and patiently, the brown leather seats were comfortable, but the televisions were yet to be switched on. The giant framed photo on the wall showed a colourful trawler entering the harbour on a sunny morning with hundreds of seagulls in its wake. Each bird looked hopeful and confident of grabbing that prized fish as the fisherman wound in their nets. On the outside it looked like a normal chippy serving the local housing estate, but inside it was proper posh with great customer service. Suddenly a cacophony of noise broke up the peaceful surroundings… Tesco Pete had spotted our lunch on its way and as the excitement around the table built, he too was confident of grabbing that prized fish. Unfortunately, the Clayton Shayman had caught the waitress’s eye first. If you think seagulls get competitive over a fish…
I’m not saying we got to Chorley too early but when we rang the Cantankerous Shayman to see where he was, he told us that he was still at home and had not yet got out of bed. “I’m not setting off until 1.00 pm, why do you want to get to Chorley at this time?” he grumped at us. I suppose he had a point but, on the other hand spending over two hours wandering around a football ground before kicking off on a cold and dreary winter’s day does have its benefits?! The Greetland Shayman was first in the queue for the tea hut and then held court with a friendly steward who opened the turnstiles for us on our arrival. She seemed enthralled by his stories so much so that the Clayton Shayman had to go and assist, perhaps it was more the conversation he was interested in, rather than her beaming smile!
Chorley’s Victory Park is a proper old school football ground with loads of character. The ground was opened in 1920 and was named following the celebrations after the First World War. The turnstiles are accessible through a park, and with segregation in place the travelling Shaymen were allocated standing room around the edge of the pitch at one end of the ground. There is a quirky small covered terrace directly behind the goal providing a decent view for a few hundred with shelter from the elements. The far end has a covered terrace for the home fans that stretches the full width of the pitch, whilst the main stand gives the ground its personality. The stand was opened in the 1940s with steps up to the seats from the small terrace below. The seats are wooden with wrought iron supports, and the leg room and seat size are based on a bygone era. It has a metal roof supported by a rusty iron network with a few bird’s nests for company. There are plenty of supporting posts but it’s a great place to watch the game from.
The first half was all action; the Shaymen had a goal disallowed for offside within the first minute but both sides created chances in a really entertaining 45 minutes. The woodwork at both ends took a bashing and how it was goalless at the break was a mystery. It was cosy in the main stand, with everyone so tightly packed in that it was difficult to see the corner flag with rows of Halifax Town bobble hats obscuring the view. You only had to pass comment to the person sat next to you for 20 people nearby to hear it; we were that close to each other. For anyone interested, Roger Bottomley is watching the WWF wrestling on television tonight, just like the old days apparently!
The second half was more of the same, the 450 or so travelling Shaymen made a great noise behind the goal with a song about Pete Wilde that seemed to go on forever. Cameron King scored the winner at the far end but once the ball hit the back of the net, it was impossible to see the celebrations with all the bobble hats getting excited on the rows in front of us. Chorley pushed hard for an equaliser and it made for a nervous last 10 minutes. The game could have easily finished 5-3 to the Shaymen but a 1-0 victory was deserved and well celebrated at the end.
We were back in Yorkshire in double quick time after the final whistle; the team are back in the playoff places with our 7th away league win of the season, it’s all going well again.
Next up and we’re back down to Torquay at the end of February for our league fixture. There’s a cheap coach mini break with 16 Shaymen booked on for that weekend too. That sounds like some serious Bingo!
Total goals on the road 21, total miles 5819 C’mon Shaymen!
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