I had not planned to do a travelogue but, as we returned from Dorchester, a seed of a story formed in my over-active mind (between cat naps). Also it is possible that there will be no match report to read on this website, so a personal travel report is given to fill the void !
An early December Monday night away fixture to Dorchester was not in the early season’s fixtures and plans for Town. However, as well informed supporters know , there are always the possibilities of re-arrangements due to cup progression – punishing the successful teams – and this is the case with Town in the FA Cup. I seem to remember our success against Newcastle lost us the relatively pleasant end of September Saturday jaunt to Dorchetser, having to face Redditch.. The implications of this re-arrangement were of the worst possible scenario. Cancelled and postponed games have to be re-arranged as quickly as possible ; no putting back to the Spring ! The luck of the draw for fixture cancellation was against Town i.e wrong timing, worst fixture. Thus the Town lads and management (and working officials making the trip) are forced into taking time off to travel in the afternoon (leaving work at lunchtime probably) and getting back to Moodchimp between 1.30-2am. And home at 2.30/3.00 am, or later, to get back to work a few short hours later. No such problem for yours truly and the trusty group of senior Townites.
Timings of such changes can be crucial as it can lead to facing teams in better or worse form. Circumstances at clubs e.g. Merthyr can give advantage to other teams, whereas Town may have met teams before their circumstances (or form) had changed.
With this as your prelude to the adventure, Paul – our great friend, supporter and coach driver (who always books himself into our away trip schedule, if possible) – drove us out of our home base at 3.10pm towards the south coast. The passenger list of Carl, his bare minimum squad, 3 directors, 2 officials, 1 player’s Dad and 4 supporters all seemed in positive mood, despite player absences due to unavailability, suspension and injury.
The well-travelled route to Dorchester/Weymouth was undertaken once again :- M5 to Taunton, circumnavigate Yeovil and end up 160 miles later – at the Avenue Stadium. A pick-up of Andy and Dan was made outside Evesham United’s ground. The obligatory stop was made at Bridgewater Services. With virtually no UK matches to allow a worthwhile “Predictor”, Rod surprised everyone by concocting a selection of FA Cup and regional cup games plus a selection of Greek, Italian, Portuguese “et al” matches ! The winner later was James Fry, who edged out our goalkeeper hero and yours truly on the goals scored tie-breaker. No quiz again; this seems to have dropped out of favour. A steady, uneventful journey got us to the home of the “Magpies” just an hour before kick-off.
The Avenue Stadium is probably the best SLP Stadium we visit. A large imposing main stand has some terracing to its right, the refreshment kiosk in the corner and a covered section of terracing behind the goal. Far side had two long covered terracing before one comes to vast open terracing behind the other goal. The pitch looked quite flat from our lofty view point in the main stand but during the game evidence of bumpiness was apparent. A smallish bar was available, tucked away under the main stand for the traditional pre- and post- match periods of chitchat and expert analysis.
The renowned website photographers – Woody and Granty – together with car-share companion Dave – were the only other Townites that I noticed, as the regular car-trippers (the Simpson and Hale combos) were unable to travel.
The game itself is reported on elsewhere but suffice to say all connected with Town were mightily happy at the final whistle. An end-to-end battle was fought out with Town sometimes running their luck, other times making their doggedness and skill show. Match stats will show that Town were behind on most criteria. Turning point, for me, was Louis’ penalty save at 1-1. And, of course, the old adage “it’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings” comes into play – even though Town had taken Townites through long periods of “squeaky bum” times, and a point would have been good.
With alcoholic celebratory packs taken on board by players from the next door supermarket, the return journey set off at 10.30pm. Music and general merriment in the playing staff area at the rear of the coach gradually died down to some “debatable music selection”, slumbering and some lively chatter. A brief convenience stop was taken at Sedgemoor Services plus a drop-off of the “Evesham Two” at the EUFC layby. The “more mature” front section quietly filled the time with reading, mobile/laptop involvement – even match reporting – chatter and contented slumbering.
The coach arrived back at Tiddington at 1.50am for the Stratford contingent to enjoy a quick drive home, whereas the heroic players and manager still faced an additional 30-45 minutes additional drive.
A highly successful run of 4 wins and a draw in the last fortnight has propelled Town up to 13th in the table, following the “darker” times of October and November. Onwards and upwards !
Up the Town !