It was still dark, not yet dawn but the birds had already started their morning chorus. The light of the orange street lamps guided me to the car; everyone was still fast asleep as I set off quietly down the deserted road to meet Tesco Pete. Suddenly the phone rang “Where are you?” It was Mrs B and she was less than happy, “There’s someone hammering on the door, the neighbour’s dogs are barking, the entire street must have heard it.” I exchanged glances with Tesco Pete and asked him to text the culprit, “We’re 2 minutes away, you’re early, meet us at the car!!!!” It was the Positive Shayman and it’s fair to say Mrs B did not share his positivity! “We’ll discuss this later, when you get back.” she said as we ended the call….
As dawn broke the Greetland Shayman joined us in Ripponden and we were soon on our way south with our blue and white scarves trailing from the rear windows and 297 miles ahead of us. It was going to be a proper grand day out. Just short of three hours later and Tesco Pete had run though all possible permutations of the 57 remaining games of all teams below us in the table and had worked out regardless of the maths that relegation was still a possibility; the Positive Shayman though, was having none of it. Thank goodness we’d reached our halfway breakfast stop in sunny Droitwich!
It’s fair to say we do daft stuff occasionally but we make things happen. Positive Shayman and Greetland Shayman were clearly struggling with the weight of Pete’s secret bag of tricks as we wandered slowly along the street of Torquay towards the ground. We were early and, on a mission, and before long we’d managed to engage a steward inside the ground though the gaps in the metal gates. We enquired about the possibility of putting a flag up and although the stewards were helpful they needed to speak to Control. “It’s not too big” we told them, “It won’t take us long to put it up”, then Tesco Pete helpfully interjected “It’s absolutely massive!” I told the stewards quietly that Pete always exaggerates as the information was fed back to Control.
Once inside the ground, having paid either £19 to sit in the impressive new stand with 1750 yellow seats with giant blue letters of TORQUAY spelled out along its length or just £15 to stand up behind the goal, we were still awaiting a decision from the helpful stewards about the flag. We were soon asked more questions about its size, “About 12 feet” we said. Control were keen to see how many travelling fans would arrive before making the final decision, but they ruled out any question of it going in the seats. In the corner, behind the goal seemed the only possibility. As time ticked by, with plenty of northern chat and charm, the possibility of the top few rows in the corner of the away seats was talked about. Before long we started to negotiate whether it would be better in block of seats with the letter of T or the block with the letter O. In the end, we got permission and the entire bock of seats and the letter T were covered, with Tesco Pete’s 24 feet square flag. It’s fair to say the stewards were good sports and it the flag was just a little bit bigger than we admitted.
The first half reflected the fact that the team were playing their fourth game in just eight days, Torquay had most of possession and the Shaymen looked tired. A long distance shot from Scott McManus gave us the only excitement as the ball whistled just off the top of the bar at the far end of the ground. Torquay came close to opening the scoring on a few occasions, but Sam Johnston looked solid.
It was hard to see whether the ball crossed the line for Torquay’s winning goal. The linesman seemed sure waving his red and yellow flag to indicate a goal, and in fairness he was standing in a good position to confirm Sam Johnston’s efforts were in vain. It would have felt better if the ball had clattered the back of the net and we’d have known for sure that it had crossed the line, but I suppose they all count. With numerous yellow cards and a red card for Ben Tomlinson, it wasn’t the grand day out or the result the 137 travelling Shaymen had hoped for, but Torquay were the better team on the day and deserved their win.
Driving back and Tesco Pete confirmed that any possibility of relegation had now disappeared. We’d had a great week watching the Shaymen win twice, drawing one game and suffering just one defeat. The 17 hours we’d spent on our grand day out was well worth it. Now I’ve just got to explain to Mrs B who the Positive Shayman is and why he was banging on the door so early…
Next up and it’s another early start, an early kick off at Maidstone followed by a sneaky 3.00 pm kick off at Lordswood FC.
Total miles on the road this season: 7462, total goals on the road: 17.
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