“Does anyone know where the gents are? I’m thinking about stripping down to my Y fronts,” announced Colourful Ken. “I’m going to do the same, I’ve got my old Halifax Town boxer shorts on too” the Elland Shayman replied. Suddenly the Cantankerous Shayman looked up from his breakfast, still chewing with a look of horror across his face. He’d picked these two characters up as part of the Supporters Club Car Share without having met them before and had no idea what he’d let himself in for. It turns out that the Cantankerous Shayman’s reputation had gone before him and they spent the first three hours of the journey with the car heating system on full blast not daring to ask the grumpy driver to turn it down. Things became even tenser when they ended up in Warrington, having missed the turn off for the M6 entirely! Luckily, we intervened from the next table and managed to broker a deal where everyone kept their clothes on, and the car heating was turned down for the rest of the journey. We also pointed out the whereabouts of the M5 too; these retired coach drivers are a nightmare with directions!
With traffic free flowing, we arrived in a dry but very windy Torquay by 1.00 pm. The stewards on the gate were again very helpful but with the strong winds and expected travelling support, they sent the weary and crestfallen Tesco Pete back to the car with his heavy big flag bag. With time on our hands and the turnstiles open, we had an impromptu question and answer session with Pete Wild who was checking out the pitch as we arrived. It’s amazing some of the stuff you read online when the manager is so open and honest. We covered every topic you could imagine, it’s great when someone is so approachable and friendly.
Torquay United’s Plainmoor ground has not changed much since our last visit in January. The normal admission price of £17 to sit in the bright yellow seats alongside the pitch was reduced to just £15 because the covered terrace for the away fans behind the goal wasn’t open. What was also unexpected was the number of travelling Shaymen at the ground. With 24 fans taking advantage of a three-night half board coach break for just £108, there were plenty of fans in high spirits. Each had four tokens for free drinks at the bar as part of the deal, and there seemed to be a good trade going in the quiet corners of the stand. By kick off there were 135 of us gathered in the stand and a range of smaller flags on display along the side of the pitch. Miles from home with support like this was great.
The first half was stop-start, very windy with few chances. Torquay had the best of the possession, aided by the wind but neither goalkeeper had any serious saves to make. The referee generated most of the noise from the away end for making some inconsistent decisions but going in goalless at half time was a good platform for the second half.
Torquay scored midway through the second half at the far end after Sam Johnson had made a great save from a free kick. The players were very unhappy with some aspects of the goal with the referee getting out his yellow card following too much advice from ones of the players. The best chances for the Shaymen came in an exciting last few minutes, one shot off the line, the bar was hit and a great opportunity from around the penalty spot was thundered high over the bar. It turned out to be a 1-0 defeat but a much-improved team performance from the last game. Perhaps a draw would have been a fairer result.
Driving back and it was still daylight as we left Torquay, a sign that we’ve started the count down towards the end of the season. The tables and other scores were checked, the remaining fixtures were analysed, and points worked out. We’re still in with a great chance of making the playoffs. Anything is still possible, even another trip to Torquay this season!
A stop at the service station south of Birmingham felt like home from home with Bradford City fans returning from a defeat at Newport County and Huddersfield Town fans returning from a defeat at Swansea. It’s a good job we’re all friends! There were handshakes all round and mutual respect for everyone making the long trip to support their team. It seems everyone likes a Halifax Town shirt. We even bumped into our Cantankerous friend again too; he’d found the right motorway for once; everyone was still fully dressed, and they’d arranged to go to Eastleigh next week. It’s good to see the car sharing plan working on these long-distance trips.
Next up and it’s another early start as we head south again to Eastleigh. We won there last season, can we make it two wins in succession?
Total goals on the road 21, total miles 6405 C’mon Shaymen!
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