“Are we nearly there yet?” asked the Greetland Shayman. It was one of those wonderful Bank Holiday adventures where we got to explore every inch of the motorway network in fine detail. The sun was shining, we even had the air conditioning on in the car, but we weren’t going anywhere fast. We had worked our way through 80 questions and answers from last week’s Shayman Shout on the subject of Manny Duku before we reached Wetherby. Gosh we know how to have a good time!
It was like one of those open-top bus sightseeing tours that you pay lots of money for London. We’d left the free flowing A19 at Middlesbrough and set off on one of the Ripponden Shayman’s famous short cuts to find a chippy. Instead Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, his eight-mile detour took us on the back roads past some of the most exciting heavy industry Billingham has to offer. In isolation, any factory or chemical works isn’t that interesting but when you see the scale of the operation, you can’t fail to be impressed.
The sands were golden in the bright warm sunshine, the tide was gently lapping the beach; it was an idyllic spot to enjoy fish and chips at the seaside. The only problem was that half of population of the North East had also turned up and they were all in the queue in front of us! The queue was, without exaggeration, the length of an entire football pitch. To make matter worse, it turned out not only to be the only chippy in Seaton Carew but the only chippy anywhere between there and Hartlepool. Poor old Tesco Pete was in melt down, his only option as we parked up at the ground was lunch a nearby supermarket café, mind you he did get a staff discount!
Hartlepool’s Victoria Ground is a great place to watch football. It has a capacity of just less than 8000 with four decent sized stands around the pitch. There are traditional floodlight pylons in each corner of the ground along with food outlets and turnstiles. The ground was upgraded in the 1990’s with covered terracing for the home fans and blue plastic seating for the away fans behind each goal. The main stand has around 30 rows of white seats running the full length of the pitch with the letters HUFC in blue letters standing out. The other side of the pitch has terracing in front of more elevated seating. The view from the away end was decent, you could reach out and touch the back of the goal nets, you were that close to the action.
At half time it was 1-1, the Shaymen had taken the lead, scoring right in front of the 187 travelling fans. It was a half of good entertainment, not just because of the attacking football but also due to the Man in Shorts. His one-man tirade kept us all entertained, nobody was quite sure what he was on about, but he shared his thoughts with real passion and conviction. The referee got a few mentions as did a game back in 1967 when the away fans were located at the other end. There were three great chances for the Shaymen to score, one chance was taken, the other two missed by a whisker but Hartlepool equalised towards half time and that was that.
The second half seemed a little like a pre-season friendly in the warm sunshine. The pitch looked immaculate, the atmosphere was relaxed, and the referee did his best not to book anyone regardless of the misdemeanours; even the Man in Shorts chilled out a little. Football seems so easy when goals are scored; Hartlepool attacked and played three or four simple passes though the Halifax defence then a shot into the corner of the net beneath our noses. Sam Johnson had no chance and the home side had the lead. The Shaymen never looked like getting an equaliser and perhaps had only one attempt in the half. Both sides were secure in the league table and that showed a little in the game.
Driving back and the roads were clear; we even got home before dark for the first time in months. The other results only impacted on who would be promoted and who would be in the playoffs. It was just one of those pleasant days out really. Sam Johnson made a few decent saves in the first half so got our nod for Man of the Match.
Next up and it’s our final grand day of the season, a trip to promotion chasing Fylde followed by a mad dash to Longridge Town for their 3.00 pm kick off. Just don’t tell ‘er indoors!
Total miles on the road this season: 8033, total league goals on the road: 19
Read more posts by Rob Brown