Friday, 11 March 2011

A Game of 2 Halves, In a Ground with 3 Sides

I just couldn't sleep, I don't know why. I often have trouble sleeping but when you are planning on travelling to the other end of the country some sleep is preferable. The hours just melted away through the night until the sun started to poke mockingly through the curtains. Well that was that no sleep tonight. No matter, tea is my savoir!
I jumped into the shower and got myself ready for the long journey ahead. My stomach wasn’t up to food really but I managed to get 2 slices of bun loaf down me followed by more tea. Jerk Pulled up outside, the journey was on! Oldham here we come!!

Saturday 5th Match – Oldham Athletic - Away

I jumped in the back of the car said hello to Jerk' and Don, I took our scarves and trapped them in the back windows so our colours could fly behind us as we burned up the country. It was a grey cloudy day and you knew going north the weather wasn’t going to improve. The music for this journey would include Japanese black metal band "Si", an interesting band to say the least! We made our first service stop for some grub, where I indulged in a KFC big daddy burger, named after the classic wrestler of the same name (maybe). Also KFC gravy is the best side order ever! Fact! DO NOT DOUBT ME!!!


Back on the road the next stop en route to Oldham was the scenic winding road of the Snakes Pass and a couple of hours later we were there and even on a wet misty like this it was very nice and a reminder  that not all England is grey concrete. By now the rain had started to piss down and rumours that the game might get called off and as we got deeper down the pass phone reception became nonexistent. We stopped off at a river to take in the view for a while before continuing up the pass. Half Way up was a little pub called The Snakes Pass Inn which we pulled into for a quick pint (not for the driver obviously). It was a lovely little pub and the locals didn’t seem too put off by the rag tag mob now occupying the window table with the nice view. back in the car it was time to navigate past Manchester and onto Oldham and the satnav was telling us that despite our diversions we would make Boundary Park in good time and with phone signal restored it seemed that our game would be one of the only in the area that would still be on.

me - taking in the country air
the view from the pub car park

We pulled into the car park and found a space. From the outside Boundary Park looked every one of the 100 or so years old it was, it was safe to say it had seen better days with its missing north stand. I would have quite liked to have seen it in better days. We walked up a grassy hill and round the back of the Rochdale Road stand to the away entrance.


The typical hole in the wall was serving the  normal array of pies and burgers as well as some bottles of beer I helped myself to a couple of lagers and we stood around contemplating the match ahead. Despite the brilliant result against Brentford earlier in the week no one in our group could be described as "confident of points" and with this being the second match in Danny Greens suspension we knew this would be tough. Thirst Quenched we made for our seats, we had been given the last block on the left hand side of the Rochdale Road stand. To our right was an empty block of seats then a small wall and trench on the other side of this was a section of home fans and this section seemed to be filling with kids! As far as the eye could see all there was were pre-pubescent loud mouths. And with zero sarcasm I knew; this was gonna be fun!!

it's grim up north

The wet conditions didn’t make for the most beautiful game of football and from the off it was clear this was going to be a three way battle between both teams and the elements. A lot of the game was spent bogged (almost literally) in midfield. The hosts had the first real chance on goal when Filipe Morais couldn't quite nod Aiden White's cross home instead it bounced just wide and a little later from the other wing Oumare Tounkara's cross was headed just over by Chris Taylor. At the other end of the field the Daggers continued to battle and only some great goalkeeping from Ben Amos stopped John Nurse from scoring a volley from a Billy Bingham corner. As the half time whistle went it felt like a game we could just nick but at the same time a goal at the wrong end could send us back south with nowt! As expected being so close to the home crowd had meant banter had been full on throughout and after being asked "who the fucking hell" we were and us telling them about all the  different leagues they'd managed to fuck up it was safe to say things were quite boisterous. The low average age in the block next to us had brought out the poet in many of us as classics such as "sit down, or go to bed with no tea!" were flung with glee across the stand.

don't they have homework to do?

After another lager and a chilli chicken pie (not the best, to be fair) I was back at my seat and ready for the second half. Early on Johnny Nurse nearly gave us something to cheer about when he ran on to the ball in the box only to slam it into the side netting. Then it happened, Chris Taylor got the ball down the left wing as the Dagger's defence backed away, he put the ball into the path of Dale Stephens who struck the ball. As soon as it left his feet you knew there was no way Robbo was going to save it, this thought was punctuated by a rippling net and a thousand pre-pubescent kids screaming in delight and then gloating at us. Weather we stood there stoically like defiant monoliths against the northern tirade or fell to our knees with our heads in our hands and sobbed, I can’t quite remember!  One thing I do remember was a rousing rendition of "only scored one goal, only scored one goooooal, how shit must you be, you've only scored one goal!". Then I think we reminded them of all the leagues they had been relegated from, gracious in defeat as always! 


It was looking like a long journey home and would have been worse if not for a fine save to keep out shots from both Taylor and Morais. The ball went out for a throw halfway inside the Oldham half; Nurse took the long throw quickly into the box, the ball bounced in front of Romain Vincelot who deftly nodded it past Amos and into the net for an equaliser, 1-1!! Our little crowd exploded as the home crowd descended into silence. We were on for a point now; we just had to hold on. Despite it feeling very tense neither side came awfully close to a goal, but Peter Gain managed to get himself sent off after going in high on one of the Oldham players. Then something really weird happened, the ball went out for a throw on our far left, inside the Oldham half. When I suddenly realise there were now two balls on the pitch, one of which was being taken by an Oldham layer towards our goal. Realising the confusion the Daggers defence got back and managed to put it out for a corner which was played in, knocked into the air, caught by Robbo then spilt, before Roberts pounced on it to make it safe. Needless to say anyone in the away section would have been very upset to concede a goal there as it didn’t seem to be just us caught out by the extra ball!

the gap where the Broadway Stand used to be

Finally the whistle blew and The Daggers had secured another point against another former Premiership team. It was a point that more than justified the long journey. We gave the lads a round of applause as all the kids that had been taunting us filed out in begrudging silence. We said farewell to the Daggers who would be getting the coach home and made our way back to the car. It took a while for all of the cars to squeeze out of the car park but we got out eventually and started on the long journey home. As the long dark roads rolled beneath us my earlier lack of sleep started to catch up with me and the thermoses of coffee became my savoir, even so every so often I would nod off only to be woken by my own snoring.


 Further south it was decided we should stop for some dinner and my gurgling stomach most definitely agreed, after a brief discussion we decided it was time to sample the delights of the OK Diner. So the next half hour was spent peering into the darkness trying to find one on the southbound side of the motorway, A cheer went up in the car as we spotted the neon lights in the distance. We pulled into the car park and entered the palace of hot food; it was a nice chain diner with all the American regalia you could hope for strewn across the walls. I ordered an obscenely huge hotdog with chilli, cheese and onions on, with curly fries and a chocolate and peanut butter milkshake. All were superb and I couldn’t clean the plate for fear of exploding! Fully fed we hit the road for the rest of an uneventful journey and when I finally stepped through my door my bed was all I wanted and it didn’t take long for me to completely zonk out.


Another awesome day out, following the daggers!!


Next -
I watched us play Yeovil and Jerk ran a relay race from bed to bathroom!

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