‘Ping!’, it was 7.00am and my phone alerted me to a new message. ‘Sorry, can’t make it, I’ve just noticed Strictly Come Dancing is back on telly tonight’. He was the third person to drop out this week, other excuses included a badly broken flask and a sickly budgerigar. There were just three of us as we left Halifax on a dull but dry morning on our 249-mile journey south an hour later.
‘Oi’, came the shout across the car park as we started to get back into the car, we ignored it until it became louder and more intense. We looked around to see an angry waitress running towards us ‘You’ve not paid for your breakfast!’, she asserted between deep breaths. She had a card machine in one hand and a dainty plastic tray, to which our bill was tightly pinned by her thumb in the other.
‘We’ve paid,’ said Trainspotter John, as Tesco Pete and I looked at each other, both wondering whether John had ‘forgotten’ to pay before we left…
‘Can you describe who you paid?’ asked the waitress. ‘It was a lady’, said John, ‘5’ 10 tall feet tall, brunette, stud earrings, about a size 12, green top, tailored trousers, black shoes, and a small sapphire wedding ring on her left hand.’ Instantly we knew he had paid, and we also knew the reason he had volunteered to sort the bill out. The waitress accepted the explanation, but we were less than impressed. The total bill was £30, £10 per person and we’d given John £25 to cover our two meals and a £5 tip. We found out that John had left an 80 pence tip, so by the time John had got to the bar to pay, the cost of his meal had suddenly dropped to £5, typical John!
With traffic good, we rolled up to Eastleigh’s Silver Lake stadium around 1.30pm. We’d had great communication from the Club’s Disability Liaison Officer at least week before the game with a complete guide to the facilities. The stewards on the gate knew we were coming, and our parking was sorted, just outside the away turnstiles too. The matchday admission was the cheapest in the league, with full price adults at just £15, and concessions at £10 in advance. Don’t tell Trainspotter though, we told him his concession ticket was £15, just to recover that £5 tip he’d misplaced.
Eastleigh’s ground is undergoing further redevelopment, and the original temporary scaffolding style seating behind the goal that once housed around 2000 fans has been cleared. It’s now replaced with a smaller block of similar style seating for the away fans. The rest of the covered area is a building site with classrooms, toilet blocks and matchday catering starting to take shape. Plans exist to replace all the temporary seating with a more permanent stand. The rest of the ground is unchanged with the main stand covering three quarters of one side, covered terracing down the other and an administration block at the far end behind the original home terrace.
The first half started well. The Shaymen looked comfortable and had lots of possession. A well hit shot took a deflection and looked for all the world like it was going to beat the keeper early on. It was saved but the signs were good. Then a penalty was awarded by the extremely fussy referee. He awarded six yellow cards in the first half alone and he pointed to the spot on the third of three shouts of a foul from the 178 travelling Shaymen within10 seconds. Football is such an intense game, one moment we were cheering, then it was despair as our penalty was missed. Seconds later Eastleigh scored though a tame looking shot, how did that all happen?
The second half came and went without too much bother. The Shaymen had lots more possession and hit the post with a great shot. Eastleigh didn’t get outside their own half much but protected their lead without any trouble. If that penalty had been scored, that surely would have been three points for the Shaymen….
Driving back, and we wondered just how good Strictly Come Dancing was this week and whether we dare visit our favourite breakfast stop on our way to Maidstone in a few weeks’ time, perhaps without Trainspotter John!
Miles on the road 2317, Goals on the road 4.
Read more posts by Rob Brown