It’s like herding cats, no sooner has everyone agreed to come then one person drops out, a replacement steps forward, and then another one drops out. Someone even came up with the line ‘sorry, but I’ve got a better offer!’, how is that even possible? Then there’s the added problem of trying to juggle other people’s work commitments around a sensible departure time, especially when we’ve got to add in a pitstop for something to eat on the way down.
With traffic stop-start, our 4.00 pm relaxed departure soon turned into a clock watch. The big news around the car was that a couple of the usual suspects have had a serious dose of culture with separate visits to the cinema. One had watched Oppenheimer, the other Barbie. Apparently, one was not as good as expected, the other was ‘lovely, a real tearjerker’. I’ll leave you to work out who watched what.
With just 15 minutes in our schedule to eat, we piled into one of those fast-food places like a plague of locusts. You can spot an expert by the speed with which they navigate those horrendous electronic self service ordering screens. By the time the Greetland Shayman had finally found the ‘Start your Order’ button, others were checking out the pudding options, having already vapourised a burger and fries in a matter of moments.
There were long queues on the dual carriage way outside Damson Park, home to Solihull Moors. With just three or four cars in front of us as we joined, each one was thoroughly vetted before being allowed onto the hallowed car park. After watching numerous planes land in the near distance, it was finally our turn to negotiate the man with the clipboard. After exchanging £6.00 we were directed to Oscar, Charlie, Romeo 4. His radio wasn’t working, but he was in control of the traffic cones of destiny in that small part of the car park with additional security reserved for those who did not appear on the parking list but said they’d booked. Well, we weren’t going to tell the truth and queue up somewhere else, were we?
Solihull’s ground has been almost completely rebuilt in the relatively short number of years we’ve been traveling there. Only the Tuck Shop end remains as an original structure, the terrace beneath the original roof has been remodelled though. The main stand with a corporate balcony runs the full length down one side, the Wendy house style temporary stands down the other side have been replaced with open green seating. The once open end behind the far goal now has a covered terrace, whilst the pitch is like a snooker table, perfect in every way except for a reasonable slope from one end to the other. A bit like playing snooker down the old social club then.
The first half started brightly, the Shaymen had a shot on target within the first fifteen seconds then held possession for much of the first ten minutes. The home side then came back into it, attacking the bottom end of the ground beneath a colourful evening sunset. They took the lead midway through the half, having had several chances beforehand. The Shaymen created a few chances themselves afterwards, the best just on half time with a ball cleared by what looked like a defender’s hand. The referee didn’t blink, so that was that.
The second half was tremendous, the Shaymen came out on a mission. They equalised around the hour mark with the 144 travelling Shaymen making lots of noise in appreciation. All the action was at our end, the team looked comfortable and dominated the home side. In the closing ten minutes or so, there were two or three good chances. One blocked, and one saved well by the goalkeeper, it was all Town. The final whistle saved Solihull with the scores still level. It was a great second half and a very well-earned point overall.
Driving back, the traffic was free, everyone was happy, and we’ve all got a free Saturday now too. Someone noticed those pesky ‘better offer’ brigade turned up late too, mustn’t chuckle!
Next up, we’re off to Rochdale, with the might of the travelling Shaymen coming with us. Can’t wait.
Miles on the road 680, Goals on the road 3.
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