An old cardboard box, sticky tape, blue and white wool and the all important tin foil; the Greetland Shayman had still not fully recovered from last season’s dose of cup fever. By 11.00 am he and Tesco Pete were marching towards the car proudly holding aloft their full size, homemade replica of the FA Trophy! Expectations were high too, “It needs its own seat belt for the journey” said the Greetland Shayman, “It’s a long road back to Wembley!”
Halifax was shrouded in fog as we set off on the 77 mile journey south to the Derbyshire town of Matlock; but as we reached the M1 the skies cleared, the low sun appeared and it was definitely game on. With the temperature showing a chilly six degrees, it was certainly one of those days to dig out the long johns.
Matlock Town’s ground is perhaps one of the most picturesque places to watch football. Situated right in the heart of the Spa town centre, behind one goal is a steep hillside with a mosaic of houses and listed buildings alongside trees and a Victorian mill chimney. At the other end the ground switches to a cricket pitch in summer and has a backdrop of steep wooded hillside capped with a castle with turrets which is now used by the local council, you lucky people!
Inside the ground is a really friendly tea hut alongside the main stand and a social club finished shortly after our last league visit in November 2010. The roadside has a small covered stand and a compact club shop. The 120 or so travelling Shaymen were given the freedom of the ground and everywhere you stood was really close up to the action.
Shortly before half time Matlock took the lead with a shot from distance; the home crowd were really up for the game and the goal was greeted with great noise. Matlock were the underdogs taking on the trophy holders, it said so in the match programme!
The second half started as the daylight faded and then suddenly from nowhere the fog rolled down from behind the castle on the hill. Visibility reduced, the bright orange Halifax kit came into its own amongst the shadowy players in the distance at the far end. Would we equalise? Would it get called off? There was still 30 minutes to play and anything could happen…
As the clock ticked down, chat amongst the travelling Shaymen was about the importance of doing well in the league, perhaps a trophy defeat wasn’t that bad, perhaps better than a replay? Then an equaliser and everyone seemed up for it once again. At last the fog stabilised and the game finished as a draw. The prospect of an abandoned game would surely have been the worst possible outcome.
With the draw for the next round on Monday and the replay at the Shay on Tuesday, there’s little prospect of the Greetland Shayman recovering from cup fever this week. Especially with the FA Cup second round next Sunday, it looks like more tin foil and sticky tape will be needed this week too!
Total miles on the road this season 2235, total Goals 28
Read more posts by Kelly Gilchrist