Away Day Robins
Ashton Town - Story 1
The latest report comes from the opening day fixture at Ashton Town. With Jimmy ‘Mad-dog’ and Billy ‘The Kid’ Hughes still spreading the word in Australia, and Dave umpiring, it was left to me, Michelle, Auntie Sheila and Fat Phil to show the 2nd Division that Harwood were back! Ashton is one of the easiest grounds to get to so Michelle picked up the other two before collecting me at 2-10. Arrived at the ground half an hour later and it looked as though we’d be able to walk into the ground for nothing as there were no turnstiles or gates. Unfortunately a bloke was collecting our £3’s and another likely lad was doing the Golden Goal.
Entered the clubhouse to be greeted by an angel with a low-cut tee-shirt and a full tan! Oh happy days! The bar was full of Harwood supporters and it seemed more like a home game for us.
“Four pints of bitter please Tubby,” I shouted to the barman.
“Sorry, we’ve no bitter, but the mild’s really good, everyone’s having it,” he replied.
Settled for the mild but it wasn’t cold enough
“Everyone’s having it because there’s no bitter you goomer!” I screamed at the barman.
For those of you who don’t know Ashton’s ground, there’s very little cover (well, there’s no need as there’s very little crowd) so we all made our way to the ‘stand’ on the half way line. There was cover for around fifty and seats for about 25 so there was no need for anyone to get wet. The game was fairly even until about half way through the first period when the home side started to take control. Both sets of players were having great difficulty keeping their feet and a few Robins players spent most of the time on their backsides. They were also lacking cohesion which wasn’t too surprising as they didn’t know each other – we didn’t know most of them either! The home side took the lead after about half an hour when a shot was deflected into the net by centre half Gordon Watson. That gave them confidence and we were a little fortunate to reach the break still in the game. Off to the snack bar and Fat Phil was looking at his pie rather quizzically. “It tastes a bit funny,” he said. “Maybe there the left-overs from last season,” I replied.
The 2nd half began and so did the torrential rain but it was Ashton who struggled to cope with the conditions and Harwood took control. Talk about a game of two halves – the blue shirts were now swarming all over the home defence. The equaliser had to come and it did – 20 minutes from time. The lively Beard had come on as a sub. a little earlier and had caused Ashton plenty of problems with his quick turns and darting run. A through ball down the middle had seen him turn his marker, draw the keeper and slot the ball into the bottom corner. The crowd went mad! Sensing the victory, Harwood went in for the kill with crosses raining in on the home goal. Taylor on the right and Morley on the left ran amok in the home defence with the hungry forwards putting the Ashton rearguard under immense pressure. That pressure had to tell and it did, around 15 minutes from the end when a free-kick from 40, or was it 50? No! 60 yards from goal was lashed into the corner of the net from a true Harwood hero, Andrew Taylor. ‘Tayls’ can’t have scored a better goal during his 25-year career at the Showground. It was the sort of strike that he could tell his grandchildren – and he did right after the game! Still the Robins piled forward in search of more goals and only a combination of bad luck, poor refereeing decisions and great goalkeeping kept the lead to just one goal.
Fat Phil went off for another pie and returned insisting that the taste was somewhat familiar.
With the Harwood win inevitable, the excitement in the crowd grew yet Ashton could have equalised in stoppage time. Bobby Harris had got so fed up with the inactivity, he’d gone to stand underneath the veranda next to the club house – nothing to do with the babe in the bar of course! With the Harwood custodian absent. The Ashton forwards launched a last desperate attack and with Bob sprinting back to his goal line, the centre forward took aim, pulled back his leg, and belted the ball as hard as he could in an effort to break the back of the net. The ball flew like a rocket – hit Bill Holden, who was standing by the corner flag, on the head, bounced against the club house roof and was last seen making its way towards Wigan. As the final whistle blew, the crowd rose as one to salute a deserved opening day victory.
Fat Phil completed his hat-tick thanks to his third pie of the game and shouted “Chum!” “Yeh, I sure am, and you’re my buddy,” I replied. “NO! CHUM, that’s where I remember the taste of the pies from. When my mum and dad went on holiday in June, they bought the food in but after a few days I’d run out. So I had to share the dog’s food, Pedigree Chum, and that’s what the pie filling tastes like!”
Well, I’m glad I didn’t bother – eat your heart out Egon Ronay!
Seeing as we didn’t know most of the players, I ‘collared’ assistant manager Mickey Graham to find out who was who.
Starting at number one, Bobby Harris, number two, Andy Taylor, “Who’s number three Mickey?”
“What about number four?” I enquired.
“That’s erm, it’s a, well, ah,”
“Ahhhh, maybe you’d better to speak to Bill, or John, or Geoff, or…. I’ve got to ah go and see someone.”
Oh well, it looks as though we’re going to get as much information from the club as we did last year. Who cares? We’ve won and we’re on our way to the runners-up spot behind FC United.
If you didn’t go to the game, then why not? It’s only a few miles away like most of the trips in this league.
Join us for the next away day where there’s sure to be plenty of excitement, thrills, spills and joyous celebration! And remember……………
Rally Round the Robins!
Ashton Town - Story 2
The latest trip for the Blackburn and Darwen Robins took us to Ashton-in-Makerfield to watch our heroes in action against Ashton Town. I picked up the crew in various parts of Blackburn and Darwen before we shot down the motorway to Great Harwood where we went shopping at the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Co-op Superstore where we picked up more bargains than you can get at a super-duper bargain shop.
It was a beautiful sunny day and the traffic wasn’t too bad and we arrived in the small town at about 2.00. We caused quite a stir with our scarves and balloons hanging out of the windows and our noisy occupants going through their full repertoire of songs-I don’t think they get too many travelling fans. As I said, it was a hot day and as we sped along, a very nasty whiff emanated from the back of the car, even worse than normal!
“What’ve you got in that bag Jimmy?
He opened it up to reveal a stinking trout.
“Oh, I forgot about that,” said our young fisherman.
“How long has it been in there?” I asked.
“About two weeks,” he replied.
“WELL GET RID OF IT!!” I screamed.
He opened the window and flung it across the busy High Street.
At this time, on the other side of the street, an old codger was putting his shopping onto the back seat of his car. The trout hit his back and broke up into several pieces, but the main part of the carcass flew into the car. He didn’t seem to find this too funny unlike the occupants of my car who laughed so much that we all had ‘stitch’.
Our amusement was further enhanced when we looked behind us and saw the old chap giving a group of nearby teenagers some terrible grief!
Arrived at the ground in plenty of time for a pint before kick-off. The sparse crowd, as usual, was made up of at least 50% Harwood fans.
The game was no classic and both sides found it difficult to play good football on the hard surface. The Robins stepped up the pace in the second half and it was no surprise when the prolific John Eastham scored what proved to be the only goal of the game after 74 minutes. I was the most disappointed person in the ground as my ‘golden goal’ tickets were 73 and 77 minutes! We held on for the three points with very little difficulty to keep our good run of results going.
Into the bar for another pint and to congratulate the lads, and for Fat Dave to collect his Grand National winnings for third place in the Ashton Town sweepstake.
We were back in Blackburn within half an hour having had yet another successful and enjoyable away day.
If you didn’t make it, you missed out on a good day so try to join us for the next away game-you’ll be glad you did, and don’t forget…….
Rally Round the Robins!