Oh, the joys of a midweek away game; the teatime traffic, dark and wet, nowhere serving breakfast and the destination being Solihull who haven’t lost at home in the league since 2021. It’s fair to say we weren’t particularly looking forward to the 133-mile journey south.
Having experienced the local fish and chip shops over the years, we unanimously decided it was a much better idea to take our chances with the food being served at the ground. Having parked up and paid out £21 for a ticket that looked more like a supermarket shopping receipt, we entered the ground in search of something to eat. Our search was soon interrupted by rain, serious rain, it was bouncing down. So much so that Tesco Pete almost decided not to try out the burger van hiding behind one of the stands, almost!
With every other refreshment kiosk closed, the Greetland Shayman was next to try his luck in the pouring rain. He returned with rain still dripping from his hair and his woollen hat soaked, but he had two cups of tea, each with a lid. ‘It’s flipping cold,’ he exclaimed, removing the lid. It looked like used washing up water, the teabag hadn’t infused, and you could still see the bottom of the cup. In a flash he was off back out into the rain to sort it out and reclaim his £4. ‘We don’t do refunds sir,’ said the vendor high up in his warm and dry burger van. ‘You do’, replied the Greetland Shayman assertively, ‘or else I’ll be here all night telling your customers to go elsewhere!’ It’s safe to say it wasn’t an idle promise and it didn’t take the vendor long to realise that a refund was a good idea!
Solihull’s ground has had further development since our last visit. The infamous giant gazebo stand on the airport side of the ground has been removed, perhaps returned to the local DIY store for a refund. There are now blocks of hundreds of golf green plastic seats all the way down the side of the pitch. Both ends of the ground have small, covered stands, the main stand was rebuilt a few years ago with lots of supporting pillars in front of the seats. The pitch is grass and immaculate, and it took the deluge of rain well before kick-off.
The first half was good, and without segregation we were free stand with the Solihull fans behind the goal to which the Shaymen were attacking. After an even first 10 minutes, the Shaymen began to look the better team with most of the action at our end of the pitch. A great low cross was pushed out by the goalkeeper right into the feet of Cooke and a defender on the 6-yard line. The ball bounced off Cooke and right into the back of the net. It was soon clear that there were a good few travelling Shaymen stood amongst us, and it was a well-deserved lead at half time.
The second half was really entertaining, with several good shots from the Shaymen who were in complete control. The 100 or so travelling Shaymen all congregated together at one side of the goal and made some great noise. Alongside us were a similar amount of the local yoof, full of Tizer and having a great time. It’s not often you hear fans reciting the full lyrics to Ed Sheeran and Oasis songs at a football match but there was only one set of fans ‘Dancing in the dark’, but ‘don’t look back in anger’ guys, you were well beaten by the better team.
After a rapturous round of applause for the team at full time, we headed off into the night. Tesco Pete was soon on his phone on reading out the form tables, top seven in this one, top four in that one. Not even a motorway closure and a diversion around the delights of south Sheffield could dampen our spirits. A return to Halifax way after midnight will go down as one of those great nights out, oh the joys of midweek football!
Next up and we’re back down south for a change with a visit to Bromley’s open terrace, I wonder who’s up for this one? C’mon Shaymen!
Miles on the road 3825, Goals on the road 11.
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