We probably looked like some rubbish surveillance team; we were four blokes parked on a quiet suburban cul-de-sac, the car engine was off, and we’d been there for a good 45 minutes without anyone doing so much as opening a window. We’d noticed a good few curtains twitching too, “It won’t be long before the Police arrive now,” said the Clayton Shayman. “Somebody’s bound to report us soon, I know I would.” In truth, parking near Harrogate Town’s ground is a bit of a challenge, so getting there early (really early) gave us the opportunity of finding the last parking spot within 20 miles of the ground. “We’d better go to the ground now,” said the Greetland Shayman in a bit of a panic, “Doris at number 15 has just caught my eye and I think she’s coming to have a word” We didn’t wait a moment longer, we were off!
You can tell you’re somewhere posh when a portion of chips comes in one of those oversized ‘look at me’ coffee cups. They weren’t just any old chips either, they were lightly baked in pure sunflower oil, twice rolled in paprika and essence of Mexican chilli, toasted under the grill until golden brown and then neatly stacked to generate the aroma of fine dining. Gosh they were awful, especially when we thought we were just getting some normal deep-fried frozen chips. To be fair though, Tesco Pete though the burgers were good, and the tea and coffee was reasonably priced and came with a lid too.
Harrogate Town’s ground has changed dramatically over the last few years, and with segregation in place the 400 plus travelling Shaymen were allocated the Wetherby Road Terrace that runs almost the full length of the pitch. It was upgraded in 2015 and includes a roof and a reasonable view. Behind one goal is another relatively new covered terrace for the home fans, whilst the main stand with around six rows of seating remains unchanged. The pitch is an artificial 3g surface. The club has plans to increase the existing 3000 capacity to 5000 by upgrading the changing room end of the ground which is currently a mixture of small buildings, large conifers and limited standing space. The main stand will also be extended to the full length of the pitch as the club prepare to meet football league standards.
With just 25 of the 500 bright yellow seats available to the travelling Shaymen, it was a case of sit where you like in the main stand. We spotted several unallocated seats near the halfway line and had a decent view. At half time Harrogate were a goal up and were good value for it too. We exchanged banter with the home fans throughout the half, constant one liners from around the stand confirmed that the locals knew who we supported and what the score was. It’s this humour and atmosphere that TV football never captures and never will.
The second half was more even and when Halifax equalised, it was clear there were more than 25 happy Shaymen sat amongst us. With a draw looking likely, the once chirpy home fans were much quieter whilst Tesco Pete was getting himself noticed. “We don’t mind you Halifax fans sitting in here,” said a voice from the row behind, “but please can you ask that chap on the end for a little decorum?” It was fair to say the home fans were expecting a comfortable three points whilst we were just enjoying the day. A late winner for the Shaymen came out of the blue, perhaps slightly against the run of play but who cares, they all count. We spent the remaining minutes wishing everyone a Merry Christmas to the home fans as they drifted out early.
“It’s amazing just how unpredictable football is,” said the Greetland Shayman as we travelled home. “None of us expected anything from the game but we’ve ended up winning it!” Tesco Pete was soon reading out the other scores too. We’re still a good few points above the relegation spots and now have won two away games in a row. Oh, the joys of Christmas.
Next up we’re off on another local trip, Gateshead on Saturday, don’t forget to bring your binoculars, we always do well up there. It could be three way wins in a row. C’mon Shaymen!
Total miles on the road this season: 4889, total league goals on the road: 11
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