It was just like the good old days when we set off, there was no rain, no wind, no clouds, just warm afternoon sunshine. Even the roads were quiet as we headed down South on the motorway on our 90 mile epic evening adventure. We were really excited too, the first away game for weeks and there was even a special offer on at our favourite restaurant chain too. You just had to order before 5.00pm, no wonder everyone was eager to set off shortly after 3.00pm.
It’s always the case when you have loads of time that everything goes in slow motion. We’d arrived at our food stop a good 30 minutes before the cut off time for our discount, waited for service, waited a bit longer, then someone ordered starters, whilst everyone else waited. Eventually a deputation from the kitchen arrived, ‘You can’t have the offer unless you’ve had your desserts by exactly 5.00pm,’ announced an important looking lady. She was backed up by another member of staff who nodded along to every word. In the end, it seemed it was either a case of Tesco Pete leaving with his treacle sponge and custard in his pocket or of us having to pay an extra £1.50 for our meal. It was high tension for a moment or two, but we eventually we brokered a deal with Pete eating at the table.
There’s something special about driving up to a traditional football ground at night, the floodlights dominate the surroundings, illuminating the empty seats in the stands that you can see through the corners of the ground. On the pavements, everyone walking the same way. Programme sellers eager to make a sale and the aroma of burger vans filling the air, offering anything you like with a touch of overcooked unions and a slice of cheese. Marvellous!
Meadow lane is one of the best grounds in our league, it has four all-seater stands, a capacity of over 20,000 with an entire side of the pitch dedicated to away support. The stand behind the home goal can accommodate over 5000 fans alone. The club’s name is spelt out across the seats with the main stand also picturing two giant magpies on each side of the halfway line. The club has a proud football league history, playing in the topflight of English football as recently as 1991.
The first half was a real roller-coaster. The Shaymen started well and took the lead, scoring at the far end of the ground. Notts then came back into it before the referee decided to show a second yellow card to Senior on the far side of the ground. It was difficult to see how his challenge was different to the numerous other fouls during the evening that went unpunished but roared on by the home fans, he quickly reduced the Shaymen to 10 men. Notts then really went for it and forced an equaliser just before the break.
The second half was a nail-biter, every moment that passed seemed to ratchet up the noise from the 390 odd travelling Shaymen. The drum thudded out a constant beat, the support got louder, and every tackle and save was met with cheers. Every wayward attempt by Notts was jeered and cheered by equal measure. The home side had their moments though, the crossbar got rattled, numerous last-ditch blocks prevented a winner, Sam Johnson had a blinder and even lots of injury time couldn’t prevent the Shaymen from earning a terrific point. It was a great night
Driving back and the old boys on the back seat were soon on the forum, not ours, but theirs. Every comment from half-time onwards was read out. How many Notts were going to get in the second half, how difficult Halifax were as a team, how much of a bad performance it was by Notts and then finally, a few comments of respect that having played two league fixtures, the Shaymen had an aggregate win of 3-1 when playing with one player less than Notts. It was one of those days, the good old days.
Next up, we’re off to Weymouth for a proper grand day out. A day by the seaside and perhaps another three points on the road?
Goals on the road 21, miles 6432, c’mon Shaymen!
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