It’s always exciting to go somewhere different, a break from the routine, perhaps somewhere where you may never go to watch football again. In previous seasons, the FA Cup draw has included a number of teams that we’ve not played, but other clubs around us always seemed to get them in the draw, this time it was our turn St Ives Town away, the magic of the FA Cup!
The normal routine of setting off at silly o’clock had gone out of the window, and our traditional healthy breakfast was scrapped We were perhaps a little cavalier setting off at 10.00am, but we had driven much of the 152 mile route last week on our way to Maidstone, and we’d tasked the Ripponden Shayman with finding the best chippy in Cambridgeshire too, what could possibly go wrong?
The town centre was seriously posh; the market square is dominated by a church with a spire, and there are lots of independent shops all open for business with plenty of parking spaces for shoppers. The town’s busker was picking out a popular tune on his acoustic guitar as people filled the busy street and the sun was shining. We even managed to find the right chippy, and it was open. For just over £10 each we were able to enjoy top quality fish and chips, at a table whilst watching the locals wander by, great times.
St Ives Town football club was formed in 1897 and have dodged around various Peterborough and Cambridgeshire leagues over much of their history. They reached the quarter finals of the FA Vase ten years ago and now play in the Northern Premier League Central division alongside our friends Tamworth and Nuneaton Borough. They had reached the 4th Qualifying round of the FA cup for the first time in their history.
The ground was located next to the leisure centre with a decent free car park. The main changing room side of the ground had a bar and refreshments, and there was a temporary beer marquee and bar-b-que chucking out more smoke than the industrial north at the turn of the 20th century. It smelt top class though. The media team and club officials had an elevated perch of a single line of seat right on the halfway line. Both ends of the ground were uncovered, the far side had three different stands, one right on halfway with a few rows of seats, the other two were alongside each penalty area. One had seats, the other just for standing. The pitch was artificial but looked decent, and there was no segregation in a very welcoming environment. The DJ entertained us with some serious 1980’s music, you can’t beat a bit of Bucks Fizz on a Saturday afternoon.
The first half started with the Shaymen in complete control, passing the ball about and creating chances. St Ives rarely escaped their own half in the opening 25 minutes. The Shaymen took a deserved lead but could have scored more with the dominance they had. Credit to St Ives though, they came into the game more towards half time and rattled Sam Johnson’s bar just on halftime.
The second half was more of a battle; St Ives held their own and created many chances. Our former striker Jonny Edwards had the best of the home sides chances, but the busy Sam Johnson was on top form with several decent stops. The home fans were noisy and gave good support as they peered through the ever-increasing bar-b-que smoke. There were perhaps 100 travelling Shaymen in a crowd of 820. The game was settled late on with two well taken goals, and the final score was slightly rough on St Ives who pushed the Shaymen all the way in a competitive second half.
Driving back, and we first dropped off the Independent Shayman at the local railway station, I did get her number though as she’s perhaps better company than some of the usual suspects. We then played a game of finding a house in the middle of nowhere to drop of one the Supporter’s Clubs signed balls won in an auction. We elected the Positive Shayman as the person to leave it in the back garden shed, we didn’t know if they had a big dog but I wasn’t taking any chances!
Next up it’s Wrexham away but not before the draw for the next round. Let’s hope for similar opposition, it’s great to go somewhere new.
Miles on the road 3107, Goals on the road 8.
Read more posts by Rob Brown