“All I want for Christmas is Slew….” Sunday was our usual choir practice day, but with our game switched we had no choice other than to practice on the move. Well that is if Man United weren’t playing at home as most of our first few songs were spent stationary on the M60 surrounded by bemused Reds fans in a traffic jam. I’m sure they recognised our song and singing skills from the volume we were singing at, but it was perhaps Tesco Pete’s soprano encore that really got their attention, who honestly know he had such talents?
By the time we were again queuing in heavy traffic, this time with the Aston Villa fans heading to Villa Park, we’d already passed a number travelling Shaymen on board a convoy of coaches and were really starting to appreciate just how significant the game really was. With a 4.00pm kick off time, our usual breakfast routine was out of the window. The 133-mile journey wasn’t long enough to merit a stop either. The only thing on our minds was all the possible outcomes of the day and what they may mean. To say the excitement was building was an understatement.
It was already starting to get dark as we arrived in a cold and windy Kidderminster, and we were lucky enough to bag the last spot in the car park alongside the ground. There were loads of fans from both sides milling about too. With Kidderminster’s famous pies no longer available, the great value £4.50 special is now replaced with a tray of dodgy looking chips that have seen better days and a cup of tea. As segregation was in force, we were allocated a few blocks of seating alongside the pitch, with the rest of the travelling 850 or so Shaymen gathered under the covered terracing behind the goal. With the floodlights on, the atmosphere was building way before kick-off. This was a big game for both sides.
At half-time Kidderminster led by two goals to nil, they had scored in the first few minutes and then again soon after. Hopes were high amongst the Shaymen that the second half would see a reversal of fortunes. The wind appeared to help a very lively Kidderminster in the first 45 minutes but, in in fairness, they could have easily scored more than they did. Only Sam Johnson stood between Town and a real deficit with Kidderminster taking a few crafty in-swinging corner kicks that had him on his toes.
The second half didn’t really go as planned, Kidderminster protected their lead whilst the Shaymen struggled to test the home goalkeeper. The wind dropped as Kidderminster gave as good if not better then they got, and Johnson was again the busier ‘keeper. Without any further goals, Kidderminster fully deserved their victory. The hordes of travelling Shaymen trooped away disconsolately, leaving trails of blue and white steamers fluttering in the wind, entangled amongst the goal nets. It was like one of those great house parties; it was all going rather well until the neighbours came round and turned the music off.
Travelling back and the roads were much better than they were on the way south. Thoughts turned to the third-round draw and what might have been. It felt like a real missed opportunity, but we’d have gladly accepted a place in the second round before the season started. In fairness, it didn’t take long for us to return to our Christmas choral practice session, only this time it was more Silent Night than Jingle Bells. That away festive away win must wait for another day.
Next up and we’re off to concentrate on the league again, as the saying goes. We’ve got an exciting trip to Wealdstone and an opportunity to get the A-Z of London out, anyone know where it is yet?
Goals on the road 12, miles 4508, c’mon Shaymen!
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