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Eastleigh: Travellers Tales

Posted by Rob Brown
Posted on Sun 25 Feb 2018
Posted in News

“Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” Andy Warhol.

It was the news he’d been hoping for but also dreading; he’d got a letter in a golden envelope! It’s no exaggeration to say that my phone was beeping away all night. Mrs B was less than happy too, “Is it Tesco Pete again?” she asked, “I wish he’d just make his mind up and stick with it!” It’s fair to say Tesco Pete was in two minds; it’s one thing applying for a reality TV show, but it’s an entirely other thing when the preliminary auditions unexpectedly clash with a FC Halifax Town fixture. In the end it was the forecast of overnight temperatures of -5 degrees on the South Coast that helped him make his mind up.

You’ve got to feel sorry for the Greetland Shayman, for months he’s been trying to charm the lovely waitress in our usual breakfast stop. Chocolates, flowers and endless amounts of compliments, you’d have thought things were going well. He’d forgotten to make one quick telephone call on Valentine’s Day and it seems the world has come to an end. Who’d have thought it was so important?  She’d even switched her usual Saturday morning shift to avoid him; we were back to being served by a burley bloke called Dave!

It’s fair to say that Tesco Pete was missed in the car. Driving the 252 miles to Eastleigh with the Ripponden Shayman on social media duty is chaotic. With the risk of postponement on everyone’s mind, every incoming tweet is greeted with the usual “Where’s my glasses, which button is it, what’s your password, how do I open it?” Come back Pete, all is forgiven!

We still had no idea what the chances were of the game being on as we reached Eastleigh’s Silverlake Stadium at around 1.00 pm. Having spotted an open gate we took the opportunity to venture into the ground and see first-hand the effort that had gone into preparing the pitch. The penalty area, in constant shade, was covered in a massive white sheet with an industrial gas fired hot air machine providing a temperature of up to 60 degrees heat at grass level. A giant inflatable hot dog style roller was used by the ground staff to roll up the sheet before the referee appeared and confirmed he was more than happy with the pitch, game on!

Silverlake gets bigger and better each time we visit; since our FA cup visit last season the executive dining area and club offices have been completed behind the far goal. The small terrace remains, but now a two storey building provides diners with the opportunity to watch the game in comfort though a fully glazed top floor which runs along the length of the pitch. The main stand has been extended from the halfway line right down to the corner flag. A new scoreboard has been added and the capacity is now over 5000.

With an adult admission price of £12, (if purchased in advance), Eastleigh now offer the cheapest football in the National League. The stewards are by far the friendliest I’ve ever met, helpful and very polite, and a poster acknowledging the distance travelled by the away fans was also a nice touch. With options to stand at the side of the pitch or sit behind the goal there was plenty of room for the 92 Shaymen who had travelled.

It was goalless at half time, Eastleigh started well and for the first 15 minutes they were well on top. As the half progressed it became more even but it’s fair to say it wasn’t great football on a really, really cold afternoon. The second half was more exciting, both teams had chances, Kosylo forcing a good save from the home keeper but at the other end Sam Johnson looked solid under pressure. In the end, no goals from either team, a well deserved point and some really solid teamwork sent us all home happy.

Driving back and as the sun set across to the west, big news from Tesco Pete, he’s passed the first audition and has now made it to the next round, guess who’s not coming to Working now! The things people do for 15 minutes of fame; he’s a right part-timer!

Total miles on the road this season: 6252, total goals on the road: 13.

Read more posts by Rob Brown