There’s something quite exciting about going to watch football at a big old-fashioned stadium for a mid-week fixture. Forget the fact that crossing the Pennines at rush hour can be a bit of a stressful pastime, turning up at the ground and seeing the tall floodlights switched on early with lights sparkling against the late afternoon sunshine really gets the enthusiasm going. We arrived early, the usual suspects were on time for once and we went in search of something to eat….
With bright white walls and ornate arches down the side of the room, the interior of Maesgwyn Hall was a complete surprise compared to its 1960’s brick and pebble dash exterior. Inside there were a few large circular tables with chairs around, a bar area and dance floor. The music hits of the 1980’s was blaring out from the speakers across a large but almost empty room. In the corner was a small serving hatch for food. The Greetland Shayman had found this place on a previous visit and thought he’d kept it a secret, but within a few minutes of arriving hordes of travelling Shaymen appeared. It seemed we were not the only ones to know about it…
It’s not often that Tesco Pete gets excited by burger and chips but it’s fair to say it was the best food we’ve had on our travels for a long time. Each burger was individually made as we waited at our table, the chips were freshly dipped in the deep fat fryer and everything was topped off with a bit of healthy salad. What’s not to like about that? Fabulous food and great customer service.
Tickets for the game were £19 for adults and as usual the travelling Shaymen were segregated into the top section of the old main stand towards the corner flag. The ground, with various shades of red and pink seats is now all seater. The famous kop end of the ground is now abandoned with just a solitary large Wrexham flag displayed amongst the decaying old terrace. A modern new stand dominates the opposite side of the ground with executive boxes high above the red seats, whilst to our right was the vocal home support in a large old stand. Pre-match was dominated by over enthusiastic public address announcements at very high volume in both the Welsh and English languages.
By half-time, dusk had turned to night, the bright lights were illuminating the ground and it was goalless. The approximate 240 travelling Shaymen were making some noise, with the low roof and the corrugated metal wall at the back of the stand being bashed to the beat of every chant. In truth it sounded like there were at least 500 of us in there at times. The highlight of the first half was the traditional goal being disallowed, nobody was sure why, but it was at the far end of the ground. We’ve had a few disallowed at Wrexham in recent seasons and it seemed everyone just accepted it without too much fuss.
The second half was more a case of holding on for a point at times; Wrexham had most of the play but without troubling Sam Johnson. With a few minutes remaining a good chance to win all 3 points was wasted by the Shaymen, the final pass at the edge of the box was intercepted with everyone on their feet hoping for a winner. When the final whistle went a few minutes later the applause and singing for the team was perhaps the most sustained of the season with everyone appreciating a well-earned away point at the league leaders.
Leaving the ground and the locals weren’t too impressed, ‘No goalmouth action,’ said one fan to another. They seemed impressed with the Shaymen though and were equally perplexed as to why the first half goal was disallowed. But with an attendance of over 5000 it was a great atmosphere and an enjoyable evening.
Driving back and a check of the tables showed that we’re still in touch with the leaders. Matty Brown was again voted our Man of the Match; what a great Captain’s performance from him again. We gave the referee a solid 6 out 10 but I’m sure he’ll have been up all night worrying about that goal he disallowed. It certainly kept the Ripponden Shayman going all the way home.
Next up it’s yet another trip down south, this time to the Royal Borough of Windsor and a visit to Maidenhead United. We’re hoping to do better than the goalless draw there last season. Let’s see, c’mon Shaymen!
Total miles on the road this season: 1481, total goals on the road: 5
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