There aren’t many things to entertain us the motorway; the bright colours of autumn provide a temporary distraction to a usually dreary backdrop and an occasional football scarf blowing from a car window grabs our imagination for a few seconds. Which team? Where are they going? That’s about as good as it gets. Suddenly, quick as a flash, a white minibus flew past us in the outside lane with a big Union Jack flag in the back window with “G U I S E L E Y” written across the middle. In an instant, Tesco Pete had changed into his Batman outfit and was issuing instructions, catch them, quick, quick, quick!
Within a minute though it was game over and the jet powered Guiseley fans were off. We had far too much ballast on the back seat keep up. Batman Pete was crestfallen and still clutching his Halifax Town stickers, he convinced us to stop at the half way services just in case we could still catch them up. It was planned like a military operation; Train spotter John was to chat to the driver, the Greetland Shayman was to be look-out and Batman Pete was to sneak up and put a sticker or two on the back of the van. Everything sounded great the only problem was the minibus was nowhere to be seen, lucky for us!
Ebbsfleet United’s Stonebridge ground is a wonderful mix of old and new. The old main stand runs for about half the length of the pitch with nine white painted wooden pillars holding up an orange corrugated iron roof. The opposite side is a brand new, partially open and is almost complete; it’s a glimpse of the future. There will be new changing rooms, dug-outs and unobstructed modern seating with elevated viewing areas for the disabled. The old covered terrace behind one goal now has temporary seating but is next on the list for redevelopment. In the next few years a hotel is planned to replace the main stand with the open terrace behind the other goal also due to be replaced to completely a fully enclosed modern stadium.
Without segregation we were free to roam around the ground and were warmly welcomed by the locals. A bugle, a drum and a megaphone were used by the noisy home fans in the first half to generate a good atmosphere. There appeared to be less than 100 travelling Shaymen dotted around the stands and terraces within a crowd of 1600.
At half time it was goalless, the Shaymen had come closest to scoring, hitting the post and had a great penalty shout for handball which was ignored by the referee and linesman. Ebbsfleet also created a few chances but a good result looked possible. The second half was disappointing, Ebbsfleet scored twice at the far end without reply, both goals looked avoidable from our distant viewing point but overall it seemed a fair result.
Driving back and things still look positive, down to 10th but still only three points behind the leaders. We’ve got another long-distance trip out of the way and still maintain a healthy gap ahead of the relegation places. It’s not been a bad month to be a Shayman.
Next up and we’re off back down South to Boreham Wood. North London for a change – we can’t wait!
Total miles on the road this season: 2308, total goals on the road: 5.
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