The alarm clanking away at 5.00 am on a chilly dark winter’s Sunday morning; oh, the joys of the FA Cup! The Greetland Shayman was full of cup fever too; due to meet us at Chain Bar motorway junction and in all the excitement he drove round the roundabout twice before taking the wrong exit and setting off towards Manchester. His passenger, Tesco Pete, was in a right old panic. It’s a good job the roads were quiet, 15 minutes later he was back and were soon on our 250 mile journey south.
Two hours into our journey and it was only just starting to get light. The sun rose to reveal sparkling white icy fields as we passed through the Northamptonshire countryside. It’s a good job we sent the Misterton branch of the Halifax Town Supporters Club down south a day early. A quick text and we had confirmation that the grass outside their Southampton hotel was playable, panic over and we continued to Didcot for our usual all you can eat Yorkshire breakfast challenge.
Eastleigh’s Silverlake Stadium continues to be redeveloped as the club prepares for the possibility of league football in the future. Each year when we visit something new is happening. The North Stand is currently being transformed with the construction of a two storey building that will house the club offices and provide executive boxes on the top floor. The current capacity of just over 5000 may be almost doubled by the time everything in the pipeline is completed.
With the 250 travelling Shaymen given the opportunity to stand pitch side or sit in the shade in the new 2200 seat stand behind the goal, it became apparent that it must have been a close thing with the overnight frost at that end of the ground. Perhaps it was going to be our lucky day?
At half time Eastleigh led by a goal to nil. The boisterous young Eastleigh fans alongside us in the new stand seemed confident of the result, banging their drum at every opportunity and conveying their best wishes to us all sitting nearby. In fairness they seemed to have the better of the first half.
Midway through the second half and everything changed. Suddenly from nowhere we scored 3 goals. Tesco Pete and the Bookmaker were up and down those steps from the back of the stand in a flash. No sooner had they returned from the first goal then they were off down to the front again and again! Unbelievable stuff, even when Eastleigh got one back we were still ecstatic.
Driving back after conceding a late equaliser fair-weather Graham seemed to capture the mood, “People who watched from home may be disappointed that we conceded two goals late on, those of us who were there know just how well the team did. What a great result.” Tesco Pete was soon reading out all the possible teams in the draw for the 3rd round, one by one, the long journey back seemed to pass quickly with the dream draw still possible.
Can’t wait for the replay next Tuesday, we’ve got a real chance of a trip to Brentford in the new year c’mon Shaymen!.
Total miles on the road this season 2579, total Goals 30
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