‘What are you setting off at that time for?’ asked the Greetland Shayman’s neighbour, ‘It’s only three hours away’. ‘I visit my auntie down there, it’s less than 150 miles,’ he continued. It’s always exciting visiting a new venue to watch the Shaymen and lots can happen on our motorway system, so we weren’t going to take any chances. By 8.00am we were off, map book, compass, shovel, Kendal Mint Cake and spare trousers along with all the usual suspects. We can’t be too cautious when going somewhere new.
With the memories of the 1975-76 FA Cup adventure to Ipswich Town being shared on the back seat and a large number of tractors prolonging the journey, we decided the best route was to travel via Peterborough to stop at one of our usual breakfast locations. We were the first to arrive in the car park, first to reach the door and the last to find out it was closed for the morning, due to maintenance! There was a moment of serious panic, two trips in a row without any food, suddenly all eyes turned to the Kendal Mint Cake until the Ripponden Shayman found another restaurant, just four miles away. Now that was lucky.
After a decent breakfast we continued our journey east with just 40 miles left to travel. Plans were made to explore the town, find somewhere for lunch and wile away all our free time once we’d arrived. Suddenly we were in the biggest traffic queue in the world ever, travelling just a single mile towards our destination in 45 minutes. We drove down narrow woody tracks, almost ended up in flooded ditches and tried everything to find our way out of the queue using all the picturesque back lanes of Wisbech that we could find. Unfortunately, in the end they all met up in the same place, in the town centre and grid lock. We finally arrived with just an hour to spare.
King’s Lynn’s Walks Stadium looked wonderful in the warm spring sunshine. It’s situated alongside a well-maintained park with trees in bloom, birds singing, daffodils in full colour and lots of local people wandering around. Entrance to the ground was via electronic ticket with the travelling Shaymen allocated a corner of the ground to stand or, using a different entrance, access to seating around the corner.
The stadium is one of the oldest in the country, being first used back in 1879. It has a decent wooden stand, opened in 1956, alongside the pitch with the lowest seats elevated high above the playing surface. It has a terrific roof, similar to the Skircoat in construction that not only covers the seats but also the walkway in front. The opposite side has a full-length covered terrace with small open terraces at either end. The Grandstand offers a great view of the ground from most of the 1200 seats, but a good number are set back alongside the windshields at each end preventing views of the penalty areas below.
At half time it was goalless. The pitch looked full of grass but there were occasional bumps that interrupted the passing of both teams. The Shaymen had a penalty awarded, but that was whacked well wide of the post. We had the ball in the net too, but that was disallowed for a touch on the goal line when it appeared that the ball may have been going in anyway.
The second half was disappointing. Kings’ Lynn took full advantage of the Shaymen’s generosity by taking the lead at the far end of the ground. It was difficult to see whilst still queuing for half-time chips behind the other goal and looking into the bright sunshine. But perhaps a little too simple. The team didn’t really look like getting an equaliser then another late King’s Lynn goal sealed their win. The PA system blasted out the famous Spandau Ballet song in tribute to their goal scorer and one time Shayman Omotayo.
Driving back and we found more tractors, more queues and a league table that still looks far better than we all expected at the start of the season. King’s Lynn deserved their win and all the enjoyment that brought them. They are in the relegation zone so perhaps our last visit for a while.
Goals on the road 24, miles 7490, c’mon Shaymen!
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