The Staffordshire sunrise was wonderful, the earlier rain had relented, the wind had dropped and we were two hours into our journey south. We’d already covered the exciting topics of the day, our new signing, the possible team line-up, formation, and tactics. It might seem easy to be a football manager these days, but I’ll be honest, I haven’t got a clue. Does anyone really pay attention to whether it’s 442, 351, the diamond or the Christmas tree, or does this only matter when we don’t win? I was more concerned about the Cantankerous Shayman; he was on our tail but we’d given him a different postcode for breakfast. With the speed that he drives, we had to turn off before he caught us. Luckily we managed it but it wasn’t long before the phone rang “Where the flipping heck are you?” was his opening line (to put it politely)…..
It was a bit like watching one of those quiz shows, you know, the ones where the contestants don’t know the answers but everyone else is shouting at the TV? We were listening to the latest podcast from Shayman Stats talking about the history of Yeovil v Halifax games, but the presenter soon strayed onto the previous winners of the national league. Tesco Pete was beside himself, “Cheltenham Town went up with Grimsby Town as Play-Off winners” he shouted at the radio getting increasingly louder. To be fair to Shayman Stats, he was reviewing the chances of making the play-off this season and was listing all the previous winners and promoted clubs from memory. Each were dominant winners each season but this year’s league table is far more open he explained. He’s right too, every team has a chance.
Yeovil Town have a relatively new stadium, opened in 1990 with a capacity of nearly 10,000. Both ends of the ground have terracing; the home end is covered whilst the opposite end, used for big away followings is open. There are similar seated stands down each side of the pitch, with over 5000 green seats available with YTFC lettering picked out in white. The ground is neat but similar to many other new grounds built around the time including Chester, Scunthorpe to name two. There is a decent programme shop, stacked out with all sorts of memorabilia from every club in the world. The tickets were cheap too, just £13 for a full priced adult if purchased online in advance.
With the 70 odd travelling Shaymen being allocated the end few blocks of seating alongside the pitch, we had a decent view. The locals were friendly too with the Sidmouth Shayman sharing his local knowledge whilst proudly wearing his Halifax Town scarf and cap. With the promotion of other south west based teams in recent seasons, there are few chances to see the Shaymen live in that part of the country now; he wasn’t going to miss this opportunity and has already planned for our visit to Torquay in the New Year.
The first half started well for the Shaymen with a red card for Yeovil and soon after there were celebrations in the away end as Tobi Sho-Silva appeared to have scored. The real ale brigade took some convincing that the ball had gone wide as they continued to celebrate long after the rest of us had quietly retaken our seats. The home fans were vocal but the atmosphere really came alive when Yeovil took the lead midway through the first half. It wasn’t even as if Yeovil were struggling with 10 men, it seemed an even contest and they maintained their lead to half time without too much trouble.
The second half was more of the same as darkness fell and the temperature dropped. Neither goal keeper seemed to make a save until the Man in Shorts pointed out that we’d just had our first shot on target with around 20 minutes to go. It wasn’t a memorable half to be honest, substitutes came on, we had a shout for a penalty but Yeovil didn’t really look under pressure. With moments to go in injury time and Yeovil scored a second. The protests from the players indicated they felt the linesman should have raised his flag for offside but there were no complaints from the travelling Shaymen with a similar view across the pitch. Even the Positive Shayman accepted the decision without too much worry, it may have just been exasperation though.
Walking out across the car park and the home fans were still singing at the far end of the ground. It was a great result for them and they celebrated well. It will be a good team that stops them being promoted this season. We’d set off with the idea that it would be a difficult game and would have gladly settled for a point before kick-off so driving back we weren’t too disappointed with the outcome. It was just the manner of the defeat and the missed opportunity that had the Ripponden Shayman fired up of most of the 4 hour journey home.
Next up it’s Christmas and our exciting trip to Stockport. They’ve progressed well over recent weeks so it’s likely to be a good game. My only hope is to avoid another parking ticket like the one I got on our last visit, it’s funny the things you remember from previous away games.
Total goals on the road 16, total miles 4620 C’mon Shaymen!
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