There was a light breeze, visibility was very poor, daylight had slipped away, and the only source of light came from a distant security light. The early evening mist had arrived and it was like smoke from a coal fire as it gently rolled across the garden as I made my way towards the front door. Suddenly a shadowy figure appeared intermittently at first, amongst the gloom. The security light created a grey silhouette as the figure edged slowly towards me, the identity was still a mystery, and then suddenly a familiar voice came from the darkness ‘Evening Rob, I wasn’t expecting to see you home from work so soon!” Then I realised, it was the Greetland Shayman. It turns out he’d arrived extra early to drop off some eggs for Mrs B. He’s good like that is the Greetland Shayman…
It’s bizarre but true that it’s faster to drive to the Midlands on a Tuesday night than it is to make the 30 mile journey to Harrogate. The traffic was bonkers busy, bumper to bumper and poor visibility; you’ve got to feel sorry for those people who make that sort of journey each night travelling home from work. With tension building in the car due to lack of progress, we spotted our old favourite chippy from the days when we used to travel to play Guiseley. It’s changed hands since our last visit but it was equally as welcoming as before. ‘Can I ask, do you cook in fat or oil?” asked the Greetland Shayman as we entered, “and does your curry sauce contain gluten?” The lady behind the counter was all of a dither and paused for a moment whilst she tried to understand why she was getting all these questions. ‘He’s a food critic for the local paper,’ interjected Tesco Pete, ‘he visits all the local takeaways under new ownership and he’ll do a write up in a week or so.” Bizarrely she believed the story and one free portion of chips and curry sauce later we were out of there like a flash…
With a reduced admission price for buying electronic tickets in advance, we were extra excited to take our places in the brand new bright yellow seats in the away end. Harrogate Town’s Wetherby Road ground seems to improve every time we visit. Since our last visit on Boxing Day last season, the club has invested in two new terraces and a block of covered seats in the away end. The capacity is now up to an impressive 4000, with the away fans being allocated one full side of the pitch to watch the game. There are also rumours that in years to come the two famous portaloos in the away end may be upgraded. In all honesty though, they were very clean and well maintained. It was well worth us arriving at 6:30 though just in case!
The first half was all action; the Shaymen took the lead early on from the penalty spot but could have had more goals as the half progressed. The 330 plus travelling Shaymen were quieter than normal, perhaps due to the refusal of the stewards to allow the drum into the ground. Apparently it’s a new rule for evening kick-offs, brought in after Portsmouth’s recent late night FA Cup visit and that guy with a large bell… You can only imagine how many times the local residents must have got off from the sofa to answer the door that night!
The second half started with Harrogate on the attack, they had corner after corner and it wasn’t really a surprise when they equalised through a Matty Brown own goal. The Shaymen created few chances but still looked lively as they attacked the far end of the ground as the evening mist began to descend. With our new stand set slightly lower than the adjacent standing terrace, it was difficult to see the detail of the Shaymen’s second own goal thought the forest of bodies blocking our view. They all count though and we were very happy to cheer the goal whoever scored it! With injury time dragging on, the linesman just beneath us missed the offside of the season; we’re not counting armpits or anything like they do in the Premier League these days, it was a full five yards off side from our vantage point directly in line. Despite our polite advice, his flag stayed down as Harrogate equalised with another Halifax own goal. What were the chances of that?
Driving back and we were all glum; it was a good performance and a good point but it felt like a loss. The team are still just three points off the top and well placed in the table. In all honesty, we’d have taken a point before the game started but it was certainly two dropped in the circumstances. It’s football as they say, even our new favourite chippy was closed, and our chances of another free supper had gone too, it wasn’t really our night.
Next up and we’re off back down South, this time to visit Yeovil. They’re having a Christmas Shopping day special admission fee of just £10, sounds like a bargain to me. We can’t wait.
Total goals on the road 16, total miles 4092 C’mon Shaymen!
Read more posts by Rob Brown