Away Day Robins


The latest report from the Blackburn & Darwen Robins comes from the trip to seaside when we travelled to Fleetwood.
Before we got the ‘troops’ together, I shot down to Harwood to get some quality building supplies from Thomco, the complete building service who I know I can rely on for quality goods and expert advice.
Unfortunately, the troops consisted of… and Jimmy ‘mad-dog’ Hughes!
Michelle was on first aid duty, Dave was going to ice hockey, Billy ‘the kid’ Hughes was at Portsmouth, and Auntie Sheila was in India. We set off at lunchtime giving us plenty of time to spend in Fleetwood ‘the Las Vegas’ of the North.
We parked up in the centre and we wandered towards the beach. All along the sea-front there were hundreds of old codgers sat in their Nissan Micras and Morris Travellers, supping tea from thermos flasks. It’s frightening but one day that’s what we’ll be doing instead of going to footy!
After making sand castles and tucking into fish and chips, we decided to go to the ground. We didn’t know the way but luckily we saw loads of people rushing excitedly down the main street. Blimey, Fleetwood F.C.’s rise to the top has really caught the imagination of the public! Or so we thought, for the crowd was heading towards Woolies. Was a famous actor doing a book signing? Was there a pop-star in town? Was Dennis Hill signing autographs? We ran into the store not wanting to miss the action. An old lady told us that this happens about once a fortnight and it’s the most exciting thing that happens in the town – apart from the Bingo. We looked on, mouths open in wonder………as the girl on the sweetie counter changed her till roll. Suddenly everyone started applauding! Don’t ever call the town of Great Harwood boring again.
With Fleetwood top of the table, coupled with the fact that we hadn’t played since the second week in December, I was expecting a thrashing. Even though our form had improved quite a lot before the enforced break. I know that the majority of the players are reluctant to take part in training, so the fitness levels weren’t likely to be up to scratch.
If we were pessimistic travelling to the game, then one look at the line-up and the distinct lack of substitutes had us thinking that we’d be happy with two or three nil.
No Greeny- defected to Padiham, no Eastie- who knows why, no Deano-AWOL, no Gouf- another defection?, Matt Holdsworth? No need to worry for within 10 minutes we soon realised that we were more than a match for the table-toppers.
With man-of-the-match Dennis Hill pulling the strings in midfield, we began to move forward and with the defence playing solidly we had visions of a shock result. A fantastic piece of skill by Dennis saw him make a monkey out of a home defender before firing a terrific 30-yard shot that looked destined for the top corner but unluckily it hit the angle of post and bar and was cleared into touch. Some very poor defending then let the home side in for the opening, much to the relief of the Neanderthals behind the goal who had become rather restless by the thirty minute mark. The half-wits certainly treated the rest of the crowd to their full repertoire of four-letter words, something that we're not used to at this level. Anyway, faced by two defenders, Fleetwood’s new signing Ian Stevens ignored their attentions to fire in at the near post. With their tails up and Harwood now struggling to make inroads up front, it looked like curtains but we got to the break just one down.
Fleetwood upped the pace at the start of the second period and a reckless tackle by Anwar right on the edge of the box gave the league’s leading scorer Lee Catlow the chance to make the game safe from the spot. The defenders argued long and vociferously claiming the tackle had taken place outside the box but it was all to no avail. Despite a great effort by Bobby, who looked to have got a hand on it, the ball crept in, and that was it, game, set and match.
Further good saves kept the score down but on the hour mark, the best move of the game down our left wing resulted in a great cross to the far post which found Ed O’Neil, making a terrific run from midfield, bulleting a header into the roof of the net. At last the Harwood following of around fifteen had something to cheer about and for the next few minutes it was all Harwood as they made a mockery of their league position. With Hill, who was coming in for some terrible stick from the Fleetwood players unable to cope with his trickery, O’Neil and Price now totally in charge of the midfield, it was the Robins who launched wave after wave of attacks. Eight minutes after the goal, another sortie down the left, this time by Mashiter who outpaced the centre half, ended with a cross into the box which fell to Darren Rogers who buried it into the bottom corner. The centre half pulled a muscle trying to keep up with the super-quick Mash and played no further part in proceedings.
By now, Fleetwood were panicking and a spate of substitutions saw them fight (literally) tooth and nail to regain the advantage. The officials found themselves under heavy pressure from the players and the morons in the crowd and the decisions certainly seemed to be going their way.
Dave Sharples was sent off after the linesman intervened and the Ref. made more bookings than a Blackpool theatre manager, most of them Harwood players.
Bobby once again excelled as Fleetwood began to rain shots down on his goal, and just twelve minutes from time they re-took the lead. Despite having plenty of men back, a through ball down the centre of our defence saw a home forward in acres of space. He ran forwards before crossing to captain Phil Thompson who ran the ball into the empty net. More arguments on and off the pitch began with Harwood claiming the goal should have been disallowed for offside. Someone reckoned that the liner had briefly raised his flag during the attack.
Still the Robins weren’t beaten and the lads kept their heads up, refusing to throw in the towel, something that has been very prevalent since Sharples took over. Fleetwood were now using every trick in the book to waste time and were desperate not to let another late lead go as they’d done at Glossop the previous week.
With the Ref. stopping the game on numerous occasions to talk to both managers and linesmen, we knew that we’d have until almost five o’clock to save the game but alas, we couldn’t manage it.
Once again we came away from the game well pleased with the performance but once again we failed to get the result that we deserved.
Jimmy and I wondered whether we should go back into Fleetwood town centre for some tea but decided against it, as the locals seemed less than friendly.
On the way home we managed to get on the wrong side of the tramlines and ended up in the middle of a housing estate, but even so, it only took us 45 minutes to get home. We heard on the radio that Formby had drawn so we had slipped eleven points behind them, oh well, things can only get better.
Well done to the loyal Robins followers who are sticking with the club through thick and thin. If you missed it, you missed another fine performance so join us for the next ‘Away-day’.

Rally round the robins!

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©2009 J Fenton