Oh yes! What a result, what a feeling; the miles and miles up and down the country, always in hope, rarely expectation then a night like Leyton Orient, it makes every single mile worth it. What a night!
As the late afternoon sunshine gave way to dusk the travelling Shaymen began to appear, first on the streets outside the ground looking for the local hostelries then inside the ground trickling in up the short steep staircase into the lower section of the old wooden stand.
At the back of the stand, high up with a decent view of the pitch and well away from the brisk wind, the mini-bus brigade placed their flags around the aging dull red seats and gathered boisterous ready to sing at a moment’s notice. At the front a group of around 20 or so local students arrived, young men and women full of chatter and excitement. I guess they don’t get to see the Shaymen much, each keen to share stories with the other, it seemed like the perfect night out on Fresher’s week.
On the middle left of the stand, towards the halfway line, the sensible brigade congregated, each with a nice warm cup of tea and strategically placed to avoid any possibility of inclement weather reaching their bootlaces during the course of the evening.
On the middle right, 15 rows in front of the mini-bus brigade the middle aged deep thinkers gathered, formations, team selections and of course, the quality of the local real ale. All the important things were surely discussed.
Right at the front as ever Adam and Steve prepared for an evening of driving rain, exposed to the elements but almost close enough to pat the players on the back as they ran past. In all, 153 travelling Shaymen were dotted around the right hand side of the old main stand ready for the night’s action.
By half time we were delirious, two goals up but it could easily have been four goals each. It was one of those nights, if the Shaymen weren’t attacking it seemed like they were hanging on for dear life. Even with a good lead we wondered if we would escape with a draw. Leyton Orient wasted some wonderful chances but unbelievably we’d witness two great goals as the Shaymen did us proud. At times the place was rocking with noise and nervous laughter.
The tension finally subsided with 20 minutes to go, a third goal from the penalty spot followed up by big groups of the home fans making their way home early. At full time the passion and relief of the players was clear to see, all gathered, soaked and battered by the evening’s torrential rain, celebrating in front of the noisy travelling Shaymen. A final chorus of ‘Heath Out’ capped an amazing night as Billy Heath acknowledged the party in the stands with a beaming smile. Wow what a night to be a Shayman!
Next up we’re back to London on Saturday with a visit to Dagenham, I really can’t wait.
Total miles on the road this season: 1424, total goals on the road: 4.
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