“Here comes the Hot Stepper, he’s a lyrical gangster”, the Clayton Shayman was the last to arrive, trudging through the last remnants of snow as daylight broke. He’s not much of a gangster these days either. His only alleged indiscretion was the great Queensbury sweetshop raid of 1967 where a couple of Kit-Kats and a copy of the Dandy comic were misplaced by the owner. He’s always denied involvement claiming he doesn’t like chocolate, but his reputation of being the Hot Stepper was certainly a consideration as we set off on our 253-mile journey south.
Barrow, Dover, Harrogate, Altrincham, York, Retford, Gatesheadto name but a few. The Clayton Shayman has travelled with us numerous times but has never seen the team lose. We know this because for the first two hours of our grand day out, he recounted each and every game. The dates, the scorers, even the weather. Of course, as a Shayman for many years, he’s witnessed his fair share of defeats, but never as a passenger on the back seat.
After a decent breakfast at our favourite Northamptonshire location, traffic was stop–start for the rest of the journey. The wonderful England rugby team were playing Wales at Twickenham, and that meant lots more traffic going in our direction. Tesco Pete did his best to help with directions andprovided a few hand signals to those wondering where the appropriate exits were along the overcrowded M25.
Dorking is an amazing town; it springs up from nowhere amongst rolling fields and countryside. The first thing you see is a giant silver rooster perched in the middle of a roundabout, then, within a few moments, a busy Victorian high street packed with shoppers. You then turn left into a carpark, right next to the ground.
With admission at a fair £18, segregation was in force, but as we’d visited last year and knew you couldn’t get chips in the away end. We politely asked at Checkpoint Charlie whether we could have a quick look round the home end. We promised faithfully to return, and after a few seconds of consideration from the very friendly steward, we were in. Who would have thought Tesco Pete looked so honest?
Dorking’s Meadowbank ground has a capacity of 3000, and it’s also the headquarters of the Surrey FA. The home end is split neatly in two, one side of the goal has a covered terrace whilst the other side has seating. The main stand sits on halfway with a section reserved for travelling fans. The rest of the pitch is surrounded by a walkway. There’s plenty of room to move around, but other than standing against the pitch side fence, viewing can be difficult. The pitch is 3g, there’s a scoreboard, and a perimeter fence around the ground that is bigger than most prisons. Once you’re in, you’re in!
The Shaymen took the lead within the opening minutes of the game. We were lucky enough to be at the right end too, a perfect pass across the six-yard box set up the goal when Cooke could fairly have taken on the shot himself. The home fans were tremendous in their support, lots of singing, with some about the rooster on the roundabout too. They were rewarded too with an equaliser at the far end in an open first half. Just before the break the Shaymen took the lead with a shot from just outside the box, we were elated but managed to retain our composure amongst the disappointed home fans. The 100 or so travelling Shaymen made a right noise in the far corner.
The second half was entertaining. The home team generated some pressure, there was one off the line for the Shaymen, then the home fans called for a penalty in unison. The referee ignored the shouts, and it didn’t look like one from our position at the far end. The Shaymen then took control and they never looked like giving up the lead. A third was added late on as the sun set. Other chances followed, it could have been four, five or six to be honest. A comfortable thee points.
Driving back and we had five hours to discuss the victory as the Clayton Shaymen shared his stash of travel Kit-Kats. The Hot Stepper strikes again, and we didn’t lose!
Next up it’s a trip to Dagenham,
Miles on the road 5046, goals on the road 20
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