It has been a very busy week; in fact the phone had not stopped beeping from first thing in the morning until last thing at night. It was the same thing as we started our 192-mile journey South. The phone was rattling away in my pocket, it could only be one thing, but we had to wait until we reached our favourite Northamptonshire breakfast stop to find out.
Perhaps it’s due to it being the first few games of the season, or perhaps it’s the sheer generosity of the people who follow the club. There were 19 messages when we stopped, all related to the Supporters’ Club Goalometer and 2K wall. It’s amazing to see so many people getting in touch to add their name to our wall or commit to a donation for every goal the team score. After a healthy breakfast and a quick call to Halifax Bathrooms and Nuie to add their support to our activities, we were back on the road. Thank you to each and every one of you who has contributed.
With most of the public transport system on strike, it was always going to be a lottery as to whether we got to the game with plenty of time to spare or rolled up in a panic just before kick-off. The Ripponden Shayman was our navigator and was taking the job seriously. He had his headphones on tuned to the last traffic news, his mobile phone tracking our progress and scanning ahead for red lines of standing traffic on his digital map, and the Greetland Shaymen was tasked with looking out of the window for in case he’d missed anything. In truth, the car’s Satnav worked a treat, but it kept the boys on the back seat quiet for a good few hours. Must try that trick again next time…
We rolled up to Wealdstone’s Grosvenor Vale ground shortly after lunchtime, and the club were still setting up their activities for the day as we arrived. The bar was welcoming, there were outside benches in the warm sunshine, and a pin badge seller had set up and was taking advice from the Misterton Shayman (whether he liked it or not). Tesco Pete had found a bargain burger in a fancy cardboard box for just £6.00. It was a nice and relaxed atmosphere.
Wealdstone moved into their ground back in 2008 after spending the 17 previous seasons homeless. They play at the former home of Ruislip Manor who folded. The ground is made up of a myriad of stands, terraces, portable buildings and a serious mobile phone mast. Each of the stands is different with a modern metal terrace behind the home goal, covered seating in the away end, and some terracing at a peculiar angle to the pitch. One side has a small stand and media area, and the other is made up of several portacabins. The pathway down that side is a magical mystery tour, left, right, up, and down, it goes in all directions around various obstacles.
The Shaymen kicked downhill in the first half, and as the pitch slopes from side to side it was difficult to see if there was any advantage or not. Chances were at a premium, and a few corners and free kicks came and went for each team. Wealdstone scored at the far end shortly before the break, sending the home fans into raptures around us, it really was going to be uphill from that point onwards.
The second half was even, a good move with plenty of one touch football around the Wealdstone penalty box being the highlight. A few one-two’s led to a shot that must have missed the corner of the net by inches. The 130 or so travelling Shaymen were on their feet ready to celebrate but that elusive first goal of the season will have to wait for another game. Wealdstone comfortably played out the rest of the game without really looking too adventurous.
Driving back and we were all flat, no conversation, no excitement. Football has that effect on your day, it’s either the best thing in the world or the end of the world, there’s no in-between.
Next up, and we’re off to Scunthorpe on Bank Holiday Monday. We’ll all be fired up for that one again, we always are. C’mon Shaymen
Miles on the road 785, Goals on the road 0.
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