It’s sometimes easier herding cats than trying to get the usual suspects in one place for a match day rendezvous. With major road works in Sowerby Bridge, Salterhebble Hill often a nightmare and Tesco Pete not willing to set off until his “Home & Away” afternoon omnibus had finished on TV, I had no choice other than to be flexible with our travel plans for the busy drive across the border to Lancashire. In the end Tesco Pete relented and agreed to catch a train to Bradford whilst the Ripponden and Greetland Shaymen navigated their way to the Windy Hill Junction of the M62 and abandoned their cars. I promised them their cars would be safe, just as long as it didn’t get too dark…
They say you can never be at a football ground too early, but with little traffic on the roads and after a stop for tea at one of those dodgy chippys you wish you’d never found, it’s fair to say 5:30 pm was slightly premature. On the positive side, we did get the best parking spot in the world ever and Tesco Pete was first in the queue for a double cheese burger. You’ve got to give him credit though it was only 7 minutes and 20 seconds since he demolished an industrial portion of chips in the nearby takeaway!
Salford’s Peninsula Stadium has been transformed over the last 18 months, the iconic concrete main stand with four large pillars, big enough to withstand a nuclear blast, has been demolished. The open ends with wide open spaces behind have disappeared. Instead the ground is now a neat 5000 fully enclosed stadium with over 2000 red seats. Metal terraces behind both goals provide a decent elevated view of the pitch whilst the Moor Lane side of the ground has a number of executive boxes behind and above the seats. Perhaps the only real sign of what once was a lower non-league football ground is the original pitch with its slope from one side to the other. It is without doubt, the biggest slope in the league and perhaps something that should have been resolved first?
It’s difficult not to appreciate the progression at Salford and what the club is doing for the community. The original volunteers are still working hard; one said he was more than happy with the way the club was developing. It costs just £100 for an early bird season ticket, the club shirts were sold at almost cost price and the match day admission fee was by far the cheapest in the league at just £10 for adults and £5 for concessions. The club seem very keen to engage with the local community and build the fan base as quickly as possible. When we asked about the change in team colours and perhaps a change in identity, the volunteer of 25 years pointed out that the previous orange shirt colour came about because a previous chairman had supported Blackpool. Up to that point Salford had played in both blue and silver!
The first half didn’t really live up to our expectations, but when you’ve won every game so far, it feels like every game could and should be won. Halifax conceded the first goal of the season in strange fashion, a great save from Sam Johnson was followed up with what looked like a cross back into the box. Somehow it appeared to elude everyone and ended up in the back of the net at the far end of the pitch. It was at the far end of the pitch so it may be a better goal than it looked. At half time Salford led 1-0, there were just a couple of chances in the first 45 minutes for the Shaymen to equalise in front of the noisy 800 or so travelling Shaymen.
The second half was more entertaining, an equaliser brightened the mood for a good 10 minutes and perhaps the exuberance of the travelling Shaymen may have also disturbed the neighbours in the big houses. Those metal stands provide plenty of noise when people get excited, almost as noisy as Shayman Judith, no wonder estate agent Matt sent her in our direction during the interval! (Cheers Matt). In the end, a second Salford goal in the last 10 minutes settled the game and they looked comfortable as the game came to a conclusion.
Driving back after the first defeat of the season, the Ripponden Shayman was disappointed but felt Salford deserved the win, and none of us could disagree. We gave the referee 7 out of 10 and Matty Brown was our Man of the Match. We’ve dropped to 4th in the league, a point off the top, so it’s not been a bad start to be fair and you can’t win them all.
Next up we’re off back down south for one of our favourite trips of the season, Boreham Wood. More importantly though, the Greetland Shayman will be looking to rekindle his old flame at our favourite Northamptonshire breakfast spot, if she still works there of course…
Total miles on the road this season: 466, total goals on the road: 3
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