Perhaps surprisingly we were genuinely excited about our mid-week trip to Solihull Moors. Being honest though as we all recorded our score predictions on the way down it was clear that nobody expected much from the game; even the usually optimistic Tesco Pete had us down for 4-1 defeat. It was more the sense of an adventure rather than just going to a football match. We knew we’d be back late, we knew it was going to be cold, but we also reminisced about our trip to Leyton Orient last year; we expected a heavy defeat that night but returned with all three points. We were going along without much expectation but were full of hope.
With traffic reasonably quiet, we arrived much earlier than expected after a dark rush hour trip down the M1. A local chippy provided us with an exciting offer of chips and molten curry sauce for under £3 with a choice of small, medium or wheelbarrow sized portions. In fairness I think Tesco Pete would have finished the wheelbarrow challenge if it wasn’t for the fact that eating a few hundred chips is quite boring.
With an admission price of just £15 and the opportunity to park just outside the ground for £2 we had a warm welcome at the turnstiles. The security staff were on hand to carefully search all the spectators and in truth we were slightly unlucky that they confiscated our well concealed 25 fully inflated beach balls, 4 limos and life-sized cardboard cut-out of Peter Crouch. It’s amazing what people try to sneak into a non-league grounds on a cold October Wednesday night in Solihull. We were thwarted once again!
Solihull Moors’ Damson Park ground is an interesting place to watch football. It has a capacity of just over 4000 with 1000 seats available scatted around the pitch. Most of the seats are contained within temporary stands down each side of the pitch, one with cover and the other without. A small covered terrace has been added recently behind one goal, the other has the famous Tuck Shop with a mixture of covered seating and small terrace pens. Without segregation we were free to wander and chat to the locals.
The first half was entertaining, just how the Shaymen made it to the break without conceding is one of life’s great mysteries. Within the first few moments Solihull were playing pinball in Sam Johnson’s penalty area, it seemed as if everyone was having a shot at goal. The referee awarded a penalty to Solihull midway through the first half which turned into pure comedy. Not only did the spot kick clear the bar, it cleared the roof of the stand, flew across the car park and disappeared into the darkness beyond some distant trees somewhere near Stratford! It was perhaps the worst penalty in the world ever. The comedy continued when moments later the home fans were cheering, the Solihull players were celebrating, and everyone thought they’d scored except the referee, more laughter for us all.
The second half was a transformation; Solihull looked to have run out of ideas as the Shaymen looked more dangerous. In the end the game finished goalless but with around 83 travelling fans huddled together at the Tuck Shop end cheering on the team, we felt it was a much improved second half and everyone applauded the team off at the end with great gusto. It was a decent point earned against a good side.
Leaving the ground, the locals weren’t impressed, ‘We’ve got to take our chances, but it’s a fair result,” they said. Driving back, we thought Sam Johnson was Man of the Match by a country mile. He’d made some decent saves and looked solid all evening. The Intellectual Shayman summed it up best on the way home as Tesco Pete browsed the social media, “They’ve played us eight times, not scored a goal against us and missed two penalties in the process.” Perhaps Solihull Moors are our lucky opposition?
In the end, arriving home at 12:45am after motorway closures and one of the Ripponden Shayman’s famous shortcuts through Nottingham City centre, we were more than happy to have all got our predictions wrong. It was a well-earned point; a good evening and some decent bars of chocolate were had from the Tuck Shop too.
Next up and it’s an early start and a brand-new adventure. A trip down south to Havant and Waterlooville, they’re in the relegation places and can’t seem to find a win from anywhere lately! I’m sure the Greetland Shayman said they’d lost 7-0 tonight too!
Total miles on the road this season: 3167, total league goals on the road: 7
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