News News

Eastleigh: Traveller’s Tales

Posted by Rob Brown
Posted on Sun 21 Apr 2024
Posted in News

Eat, sleep, football, and repeat; it’s certainly been a very busy week.  I’m sure we’ve all lost track of what day it is, who we are playing, and where we are playing.  Goodness knows how many episodes of Emmerdale Farm and Coronation Street Tesco Pete must catch up on.  To round off a hectic week, the alarm was clanking away at 4.00am, as the wonderful computer that throws out the football fixtures had decided a 251-mile journey was in order along with a lunch-time kick-off.

It was dark as we left with the moon a light amber colour quietly setting on the horizon. A thin layer of ice on the windscreen soon gave way to a blast of heating in the car. Tesco Pete was the only company with the other usual suspects already having submitted their excuses. It had only been a little over thirty hours since we last travelled together but there was still plenty to talk about, the final day permutations seemed endless. Who would be relegated, who would make the play-offs.

With out favourite Northamptonshire breakfast stop not yet open, we both agreed the best plan of action was a non-stop journey to Eastleigh then find somewhere with plenty of time to spare.  It was all going well until we got within 30 miles of the town.  A weekend road closure took us on a magical mystery tour back north into Oxford, down the M42 past Heathrow then down the M27.  Suddenly our planned leisurely breakfast turned into a brisk no-nonsense eat it and run. We’d lost over an hour, it was a good job we’d set off at silly o’clock.

There was bright sunshine in Eastleigh as we arrived at the Silverlake stadium, we blagged parking by asking for directions then after being told to turn around and park down the road, we accidently took a wrong turn and ended up very close to the away turnstiles.  Admission was a quirky £19.50 for adults which gave us access to around 30 feet of space next to the corner flag.  There was one block of seating in their newly renovated stand behind the goal, or a single section of covered terrace down the side of the pitch. The pitch was immaculate, full of lush green grass that had been mowed to create a fancy pattern.

Eastleigh started the game well, forcing a few corners at our end of the pitch and had a couple of headers and knock-ons that had Johnson on full alert.  The Shaymen responded, looking composed and then dominated possession after about the tenthminute.  We took the lead midway through the half, it had been coming, there was only one team in it. The team held a goal lead at half time.

The announced 120 travelling Shaymen looked more like 150 when the section of terracing designated away support was extended.  The seats were well occupied, but the cool breeze was menacing in the shade. The team attacked our end of the pitch in the second half and had good vocal support. TheShaymen doubled the lead midway through the second half, then added a spectacular third.  The result was never in doubt, but Tesco Pete kept us up to date with the other scores for good measure. It felt like it could be the most relaxed away win of the season, and given the importance, the most impressive.

The final whistle was celebrated with the players, management, and fans together.  There were handshakes and smiles all round.  The team had notched up a very impressive eleventh win on the road along with 37 points along the way.  We’d bite your hand off for that in any season. A wise man stood amongst us and tempered the excitement with the confirmation saying that it was the first part of the challenge complete, with more to come. It had been a tough week and a great outcome.

Driving back and we had the benefit of daylight all the way home. Tesco Pete worked out who would play who in the play-offs and what might happen. With a few more days in between now and the next game there’s now time to eat, sleep, prepare for football and hopefully repeat.

C’mon Shaymen!

Miles on the road 7350, goals on the road 27

Read more posts by Rob Brown