As soon as the draw is made for the first round for the FA Trophy, we always hijack Tesco Pete on the next away journey and get him to map all the rounds against our fixtures. If the next round clashes with a home game, that’s great, if it clashes with an away game then it’s a small conciliation if we lose. It takes Pete usually the best part of a couple of hours to do this, his news at the start of this year’s competition was good. Every round avoided a clash with an away game unless we managed to reach the semi-finals. No chance of that we thought, our pleasant Saturday day out to Working would be safe. It was all going well until those pesky Shaymen won away at Aldershot in the quarter-finals. Our reward wasn’t just a trip to Altrincham in the semi-finals, it also meant a rearranged mid-week trip to Woking, oh Joy!
With the old boys from the back seat finding excuses not to come, it was down to Tesco Pete to get himself to the rendezvous point under his own steam. Three phone calls, four texts – the last with a tint of menace, and finally a response, “I’ve just got up, thought we were setting off later?” came the reply. Mrs B was keen for me to set off without him, but with 224 miles to travel, who wouldn’t want the sparkling company of Tesco Pete for the following 14 hours? Finally departing later than planned, we headed south shortly after lunchtime.
With the M25 a carpark at the best of times, we elected to drive non-stop to Woking. We located one of our favourite posh restaurants on the outskirts of the town amongst the leafy tree lined streets and executive penthouse apartments, or flats as we say up north. We managed to beat the 5.00pm deadline for half price meals by eight minutes, and promptly ate them out of house and home. It was then just a short drive to the ground in the warm evening sunshine. We only upset one Range Rover driver by performing an unannounced three-point turn in the middle of the road. We’d spotted a parking space right next to the turnstiles and nothing was going to stop us getting it, not even the honk of a horn and a dodgy stare directed at Tesco Pete in the passenger seat.
Woking’s stewards were top class, they allowed us access though the home turnstiles and escorted us to the away end. Under the old main stand, Moaner’s Corner has had a revamp, the food and drink kiosk has a big new sign next to the short terrace it’s named after. There’s a Fan Zone down the warren of pathways too, selling alcohol and exotic burgers from a colourful van, for the bargain price of a back-to-back terrace in Yorkshire. There’s a club shop, and a supporter’s bar too. Behind one goal is a home covered terrace, and the other end has perhaps the best stand in our league behind the goals. It houses a few thousand fans who sit high up on bright red seats with the letters WFC picked out on white seats. The 44 travelling Shaymen were given an open side or access to the first block of seating in the stand behind the goal.
The first half was terrific, the Shaymen attacked the home terrace as the sun set behind the main stand. There was a chill in the air, but a Harker goal scored from a rebound off the keeper gave the excitable travelling Shaymen something to sing about and dance up and down the nearly empty open terrace. With just over 3000 home fans inside the ground, Woking had some decent backing but the Shaymen looked open for business and took the game to the home side. Even when Woking looked dangerous, numerous blocks and tackles ensured a well-deserved half time lead.
The second half saw Working go for it; they needed to win to help them secure third place in the table. They rattled a post, had two or three loud shouts of a penalty at the far end, and had a decent close-range header that seemed destined for the back of the net until Johnson pushed it over the bar. A red card late in the game looked harsh for the Shaymen and it gave Woking a man advantage for the last five minutes of the game. The Shaymen were resolute, three times the match ball was whacked clean out of the ground in the closing minutes, clearly upsetting Doris on her second-floor balcony opposite the ground.
Victory was confirmed a few moments later, and the team were again applauded off for a comprehensive win. It’s just one defeat now in months. Next up and it’s the small matter of a trip to Wembley for the FA Trophy Final. Let’s give the team the support they deserve. C’mon Shaymen!
Miles on the road 9846, Goals on the road 25.
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