By the time it reached 5:58am we were already discussing how much more time we were going to give them. A 6:00am agreed start time is usually code for ‘we’ll be gone by 6.00am’. Just at that moment the Ripponden Shayman appeared, his headlights were beaming though the darkness and Tesco Pete was already booming out some 1970’s Boney M music track. If my neighbours weren’t awake before, they were now…
It must have seemed like a raid when we arrived at our breakfast stop, three blokes shouting whilst running at the doors in unison. The waitress looked shocked; the other customers looked up startled as they paused their breakfasts to see what the commotion was. In truth, we’d driven for four hours non-stop to Taunton without breakfast. We’d intended to stop much earlier but with the roads clear we decided to do as much of the 299 miles as possible. I just said, I’ll keep going until someone says they need the loo, I guess by the speed they all left the car, they were perhaps just being a little too polite…
The Somerset countryside was really something special as we drove the remaining hour or so along the A roads south of Yeovil. The drystone walls of Yorkshire were substituted for hedgerows and some of the trees were already in blossom. In no time at all, we came over the crest of a hill to see the panoramic view of Weymouth Bay glistening ahead of us in the sunshine. We had time to drive to the Isle of Portland, just to be nosey and that too had great views. We even came across Phil Merrifield selling one of his famous Supporter’s Club bobble hats to a bloke in the petrol station. I’m not sure if he was a Town fan or whether Phil had decided he just needed a hat.
Weymouth’s Bob Lucas Stadium is located outside of the town centre. The club relocated in the 1980’s and named the new stadium after a former player, physio and chairman. The ground has four old school floodlight pylons and a free car park, (if you get there before the stewards). Three sides of the ground have neat, covered terracing with a decent view of the pitch. The main stand is one of the tallest in Europe with more steps that the Wainhouse tower to reach the top. There’s a terrific view of the playing area with the only drawback being the wind, it felt like minus 8 degrees up there rather than the forecast plus eight it really was. With segregation in force, most of the 100 or so travelling Shaymen elected to stand behind the goal, only a few foolhardy Shaymen watched from the seats high up above the pitch.
At half time it was goalless. The wind made the game less of a special than we’d hoped. The pitch looked good as Weymouth started well, forcing a corner within the first minute. There weren’t too many chances for either team, the home fans banged their drum at the far end and the travelling Shaymen made themselves heard. In truth we were all delighted to reach half time and grab a brew or visit the tidy away supporter’s bar.
The second half was far more exciting with the Shaymen both kicking towards the Town fans and playing with the wind which had dropped a little from the first half. The deadlock was broken midway through the half with a goal celebrated by the players with the fans. The rest of the half was played out without too much fuss; Weymouth had a few corners and freekicks, but Johnson never really looked too busy at the far end. Another late goal for the Shaymen was again celebrated with the fans. It was a good steady performance and a welcome three points.
Driving back and we reminisced about how good the day was, how friendly Weymouth were as a club and just how good the league standings are looking at the moment. We agreed to break the journey much earlier on the way back, just to avoid any further loo panics and made it home for 11.00pm. Another exciting grand day out.
Next up and we’re off to Wrexham, but not until we’ve had three games at the Shay. That’s plenty of time to find your passports.
Goals on the road 23, miles 7030, c’mon Shaymen!
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