There was real excitement in the car as we headed off down South. It’s been twenty years since the Shaymen last played at Root’s Hall and it felt like a proper adventure. The weather was dry, the roads were clear, the conversations were all about the excitement of the recent Chesterfield game, and to top it all, our destination was at the seaside too.
There was real panic as we arrived at our breakfast location, it wasn’t to do with a lack of mushrooms this time, more the fact that hundreds of people were queuing up outside as we arrived. We’d already had to drive the wrong way around a roundabout to avoid a big queue of cars, (you could only imagine the screams from the back seat for that experience!), and then to find all these people lined up on the street… Tesco Pete was in a right panic, but a quick search of the internet confirmed they were queuing for the National Motorhome Show at the nearby show ground, rather than for our breakfast so disaster was averted and everyone was calm again.
After a decent breakfast we were back on the road, the sun had come out, and the aircon was on for the first time this year. Our entertainment this time was to see just how long it would take someone in the car to realise that they had left their mobile phone unguarded whilst visiting the loo and that someone may have tweeted on their behalf. The Ripponden Shayman had spotted the opportunity for a bit of fun, and in the end, it took a good 30 minutes for the penny to drop with the Positive Shayman, but it made the car journey just a little bit more fun.
Southend’s Root’s Hall ground is a good old fashioned football stadium. It’s got four traditional tall floodlights that you can see as you head towards it, with a capacity of over 12,000 and a seat for everyone. All four sides of the ground are in use, the main stand has some executive boxes at the back, windshields at the side, and lots of sun-faded coloured seats. Opposite there’s a fantastic double barrelled asbestos roof running the fill length of the pitch. The ironwork holding it up is a work of art, there must be hundreds of lost footballs stuck up there between the two barrels. The far end is reasonably modern with a double decker stand perhaps giving the best view. The 150 or so traveling Shaymen were given a stand behind the other goal, it’s like the Skircoat stand, with many supporting posts but at the bottom when standing your eyeline is only just at pitch level.
The first half started with real excitement and the Shaymen could have taken the lead within the first 30 seconds. Only a decent save from the keeper kept the scores level. The Shaymen had another opportunity at the far end soon after what seemed a good start. Southend scored right in front of us moments later from a corner, and the already noisy drummers in the home end turned up the volume. The home side had nothing to play for in terms of promotion or relegation but over 5,500 home fans were there to support their team regardless.
The second half was more exciting, it may have been due to how close we were to the action, but the Shaymen had more of the ball at our end. Their keeper made a few good saves, we shouted for a penalty or two, but the referee seemed to be in a world of his own at times. The low roof enhanced the noise of the travelling support, and it seemed to be only a question of time before an equaliser arrived. Southend had their chances too. They rattled our bar and forced a few good saves. In the end, the referee blew the final whistle with Southend ahead, it felt like we deserved a draw but that’s football.
Driving back and everyone seemed glum, so the only course of action was to stop on the outskirts of Southend for a fast-food happy meal. We’d not seen the seaside, we’d not seen the team win, but we each had a few of of those puzzle books and crayons for the journey home. It cheered everyone up, no end.
Next up it’s a bank Holiday trip to Eastleigh and another early start, every point is vital now.
Goals on the road 25, miles 8044, c’mon Shaymen!
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