Toggie’s Travel Tales from the Valley

I have received a complaint !  I can handle regular abuse, derision, mockery or anything else thrown at me – within reason. But a complaint ? So what was this complaint ? Lord Simpson, and his Ladyship – a.k.a. shop-keeper and gate-keeper at DCS – felt that their maiden voyage on “LandFlight Stratford Town” should have been afforded a mention in my Merthyr blog. I am more than happy to give my unqualified – yet needless – apologies herewith. Chris and Anita are a couple within a very small band of loyal followers, seen at virtually every SLP league and cup match.

However, should any other Town supporter want a mention in my travel report in the future, I suggest they use the more acceptable “vehicle” of meeting me at any game and proffer the appropriate bribe !

Whilst referring back to Saturday, I did forget to mention that Paul drove us back into town via the Alcester Road (rather than the back route of Evesham/Shipston Roads) for perhaps his own edification – and that of the playing staff – as we were all treated to the magnificent sights of the Stratford Christmas Lights. Not fireworks for our returning heroes but certainly spectacular coloured decorations !

So on to the second of the trilogy of “away toughies”. How will I fill the column inches this time without the aid of a coach trip ?

No coach, quiz or Joe’s Predictor

So I can’t report a worthy victor

No weather, no route or interesting views

I’ll just stick to telling the match-side news

Taking a solo trip in the “Toggiemobile”, I had planned to arrive early to utilise the stadium carpark  and then make my first visit, for many a season, to the upstairs’ bar. I successfully passed the refreshment kiosk – without succumbing (for the time being) – and met up with the regular, and not so regular, travelling “Townites” for the normal chat to put the world to rights.

As reported from the League Cup match, early in October, the stadium has taken on a smarter appearance than in previous seasons’ league or BSC visits. The difference this time was freezing frost giving a very wintery picture. Several areas were taped off at the terraced end, thus preventing access to the far side – unless you wanted a long hike back to the other end. It seemed that most Redditch fans had taken the long walk option to face the visiting “masses” across the pitch.

The reasonable refreshment prices, plus the need to fight the cold and frustration at the half-time scoreline, persuaded me that B & B was necessary.  All who know me,  will tell you that means Bovril and burger. These –  and the sterling second half show – did help to distract me from the – 5 deg. C prevailing in the Valley.

I do not usually dwell on the match itself but feel justified this time. The players “put in a shift and a half” – apart from the pre-Christmas gift of a goal “early doors” – and thoroughly deserved the late equaliser.  The backing that the travelling barmy blue army gave the lads went some way to willing the ball into the “Reds” net but it was “Town’s” domination of the last 80 minutes of the game, and playing all-out football, that won a point, which seemed like three at the final whistle ! The joviality, comradeship, chanting, cheering and verbal sparring with the opposition by the great bunch of Townites ensured that the freezing temperatures did not mar their joy during and after the match. Our superior linguistics were a sure “banker” to nullify and surpass the “Reds” one-word vocabulary. Generally the home fans were very quiet and I noticed that virtually none of them remained and cheered their team from the pitch. In contrast Town and the supporters had much mutual applause for the parts they had both played in a first class local derby.

I, like the majority of away supporters, took to their cars straightaway after the game to warm up with the glow of winning a point. I cannot therefore report on any celebratory  post-match reactions and news

So on to the coach-less finale of the trilogy at Banbury on Saturday.

UP THE TOWN !

Redditch United 1 Town 1

Town needed an 89th minute equaliser from Edwin Ahenkorah to rescue a point at an arctic Valley Stadium, and after dominating the game for long periods it was the least they deserved.

Luke Keen had fired Redditch into a 10th minute lead and as Town beavered away without finding the back of the net it looked as  if that goal would be the decider until Ahenkorah’s late strike.

A full report is now available under the First Team Match Reports Section..

Jamie Sheldon

Due to changes in his off the field circumstances Jamie has decided to end his time with Town.

During his two spells at the DCS Jamie made a total of 116 appearances and scored 35 goals, many of which were his trademark long range specials, and all Town supporters thank him for his efforts and wish him  all the best for the future.

Rugby Town Juniors 4 Town Youth 3

Town Youth’s MFYL Premier Division South title challenge met with a setback at Kilsby Lane on Monday evening as a classy Rugby Town Juniors side   –  who are the only team to have beaten Town in the League this season  –  followed up their 5-3 win at the DCS back in September with another powerful performance.

In a first half played at a frenetic pace the Juniors opened up a 2-0 lead before Town battled back to be all square at the break, but the Juniors moved up a gear in the second period to take over top spot in the table.

Dylan Parker with his 21st goal of the season, Ben Couki and Jordan White were the Town scorers.

Tales Told by The Travelling Toggie – “we made our point”

Producing this eagerly awaited column from the my writing desk in the library at Toggie Towers, overlooking my vast picturesque grounds,  I thought I would  preface this offering by mentioning Friday night’s most enjoyable Sportsman’s Evening at DCS. Many of the STISA committee and several members in the audience were treated to entertainment of “adult tendency” and banqueting of high quality.

Sean Percival from Dudley went close to the knuckle

But, oh boy, did we raucously chuckle !

Don Goodman, ex-footballer, the midlander “Tyke”

Told tales of what his managers were like.

The ladies from the kitchen brought out tasty food

As hungry punters table by table were queued

Be it beef bourguignon and mash or curry with rice

It was, I can tell you, exceedingly nice !

 

So back to Saturday.

Setting off a little late (!) the on-board numbers were not high. The “Gaffer” was not on board (missing the coach due to working late) nor was Paul Eden who, I guess, was still in bed jet lagged.  Steve Tunnicliffe was Carl’s chauffer, with whom Hughes senior and junior also travelled.

The town of Merthyr was our destination

In truth, it was with great trepidation

I will not bore you with the route. which was undertaken with no mishaps, The weather was surprisingly bright, especially when we entered the Principality. In fact the brighter sunshine gave pleasant, Autumnal views of the Welsh landscape once we had cleared the “Heads” perennial roadworks.

“Mr Predictor”,  as ever, selected some interesting matches and, for the first time, allowed mobile entries (from the “Tunnimobile”). A short convenience break was taken at Ross-on-Wye,  whence we headed unhindered to Merthyr Tydfil.  Due to lack of entrants I suppose, the “Rod Quiz” was postponed until Biggleswade, when – it is hoped – there will be a prize up for grabs (although I would not hold my breath !).

Meanwhile…..

“The hills were alive with the sound of music”

Arrival at the old ground of trepidation was bang on schedule at 1.30pm

Timed to perfection and oiled to precision

To travel with Town is a wise decision

Once we off-loaded players and kit, the remaining passengers stayed seated and were treated to a demonstration of Paul’s manoeuvring skills in the tightly-confined “spaces” of the hilly stadium entrance at Penydarren Park (the Loadlok Community Stadium), which is well known to those of us who have travelled there regularly over the last four seasons.

Those aforementioned travellers were treated to a bright, daylight view of the pitch, bathed in sunlight ! This view was then quickly replaced by a view inside the bar !  The usual get-together of coach and car people chatted away whilst watching any one of six TV screens hanging above the two rows of tables and chairs. It has to be said that the locals there are very friendly (they’ve seen enough of us for sure) and I actually spoke to one “Martyr” who had visited Stratford the day before, having stayed at the White Swan Hotel. He was very complimentary of our town.

My travelling companion, Andy, and I walked round to the far side stand, where we had to seek eye-shade from the blazing – if not baking – sun glaring down from over the hills nearby. Apart from the excellent view of the pitch, it was my intention to be near the refreshment booth at the one end. I will say here that, for a stadium of this size, it was inadequate due to the slow service and usually larger crowd. I hesitate to think what is like when they have a big crowd because there was only a very poor attendance of just over 200 there !

The 3G pitch produced an interesting game with a couple of unfortunate incidents/decisions ; a bad ricochet (from an offside position) led to the home equaliser and a not-given penalty late on for the lads, who had battled so well. Everyone concerned said how well the lads had done. In the words of the old “Fiddlers’ Dram” song

“Didn’t we have a lovely time, the day we went to Merthyr ?”

 OK !  I know.  It was Bangor, but it was still Wales ! You get the drift though.

Having  “chewed  the fat” over the match in the bar, and taken in the news of two of the squad (not on the coach) moving on to pastures new probably, we  allowed players and management their customary post-match feed, before setting off at 5.50pm. At 5.55pm we stopped at a local “NISA” store to take on board some liquid provisions for our squad of heroes. These and the “Sim Music” generated a merry return journey (which I again snoozed through for part of it). We arrived back at DCs at 8.20pm.

When the results of the “Predictor” had been in, it transpired that we had a winner from afar and beyond us.  A very popular winner it was, for it was Glyn Hughes with 8 who, incidentally, outscored “his lad” by 6 !!

I thanked Paul, who always gives us a smooth ride, and informed him (jokingly) that his services were not required for the next two away trips but that he should return in just over two weeks to transport us to Biggleswade,  sadly in full night mode. He, of course, already knew this (he follows us closely) but seemed genuinely disappointed that it would be that long till he would  again have the pleasure of the “geriatrics from the front section and whipper-snappers from the back end” of Stratford Town FC.

When will I see you again ?”

UP THE TOWN !

Merthyr Town 1 Town 1

Town earned a valuable point with a battling performance on Merthyr’s 3G pitch as the floodlights stayed on this time.

Edwin Ahenkorah’s fourth goal of the season gave Town a half time lead, but Merthyr equalised halfway through the second half.

A full report is now available in the First team match reports section

Town 1 Slough Town 2

Richard Gregory headed Town into a 26th minute lead with his 11th goal of the season, but Slough came back strongly in the second half with Warren Harris equalising in the 74th minute and Elijah Adebayo hitting the winner three minutes later.

A full report is now available under the first Team Match Reports Section.

Pitch update-Match on

After a sterling effort by the army of volunteers this morning the good news is that tonight’s match v Slough Town is on. Our man with the fork Martin Brookes reports that despite the drizzle and one or two slightly squelchy patches the pitch is generally firm.

Help required to clear the pitch

With the club hopeful that tonight’s match with Slough can go ahead they’ve asked for help clearing the pitch of the remaining patches of standing water. If you’re available to go down to the club from 12pm with a fork it would be greatly appreciated.  A further pitch inspection is due at 3pm.