Away Day Robins

Hall Road Rangers


The latest report from the famous Blackburn and Darwen Robins comes from the recent FA Vase clash at Hall Road Rangers on Humberside.
With several of us working on Saturday, it was going to be quite a rush to get finished and arrive at the Showground for 11-30. We also had the problem of making sure Dennis Hill got there on time.
“If you don’t help me with my delivery, I won’t be able to play!” Sobbed the Postie. Anyway, while I was marching up Gibb Lane (gradient 1 in 4) he was at his Granny’s in Feniscowles stuffing his face with Bacon, sausage, egg and fried bread! Six of us booked a taxi to take us over to Harwood for 11-30 and we made it with just minutes to spare. As we boarded the coach we weren’t filled with optimism for the game as we didn’t recognise any of the lads in Great Harwood Town tracksuits!
Representing the Blackburn and Darwen Robins were Dave, Michelle, Auntie Sheila, Jimmy ‘Mad-Dog’ and Billy ‘The-Kid’ Hughes, Fat Phil and yours truly-a magnificent turn out. All told we had about twenty supporters which you must admit is pretty good. The football club did us proud by providing the transport free of charge which not only saved us a few quid in petrol-we’d have to take two cars-it also meant that we could have a few drinks. As you’re not supposed to consume alcohol on the way to games, we’d all hidden it in various places. Pop bottles, flasks, jam jars, Dave had his beer in a hot water bottle and as my wife works in a hospital, I’d got mine in a urine bottle. I put lager in it to match the colour just in case the driver saw it!
Once we left the motorway on Humberside, we passed through some lovely little villages and with the sun shining it ended up being a smashing journey. As we arrived in the village on Dunswell, we could see the floodlights but didn’t know which road to turn down.
“It’s that one!” Shouted Sandra.
The driver turned into the narrow street and it soon became apparent that it was a cul-de-sac, with not enough room at the end to turn a lawnmower round, let alone a coach!
“Don’t worry”, said our jovial chum behind the wheel. And with that he reversed…..through a garden fence, over the lawn, into the Mercedes parked on the drive, before shifting it into first gear. Forwards we went, demolishing a row of rose bushes and sending an old lady, who was gardening, into the goldfish pond beneath the apple trees. Four or five more manoeuvres later and we were on our way out of the avenue, although a couple of cars did lose their wing mirrors and a Mini needed a new door.
Finally arrived at the ground at 2-10 and as the players went to get changed, we went into the clubhouse for a few pints and a game of pool.
Into the ground at ten to three and put the flag up and got the bugle warmed up. It was obvious that the locals had never seen an away crowd before, especially one which looked and sounded like us! Got stuck into the local fayre as the game began with a very sparse crowd in attendance. The pitch looked really good but it was incredibly bumpy and made Glossop look seem a bowling green. The players found it almost impossible to put more than two passes together and it seemed likely that a mistake was going to give someone the breakthrough. When it did come, it wasn’t a mistake but a fine ball out to the right wing which found Lewis Hamlin in space. He made a beeline for the goal, held off a couple of defenders and as the keeper anticipated a cross, Lewis whacked the ball into the net from a narrow angle. The crowd went wild with delight although it proved a little too much for one half-wit behind the goal.
“It’s no use shouting abuse you moron, we can’t hear you-Villa Villa hear we come!”
The second half saw us settle down and play most of the decent football and it was no surprise when we scored a second. After several near misses, we were awarded a penalty when a run into the box by Mash was halted by a handball. Up stepped Mash to send the keeper the wrong way. We’d surely sewn up the win, or so we thought, but twelve minutes from time as Greeny was closing down an advancing forward, the ball bounced up off the concrete-hard pitch and hit his arm. As he deflected it away from the danger area we couldn’t really argue with the decision, but it was doubly bad luck as it occurred right on the edge of the box. The kick was despatched into the top corner to leave us panicking a bit but the defence held their nerve and we looked the more likely team to add to the score as Rangers pushed men forward.
Another ‘first’ for the home club was the witnessing on their own ground of a chorus of ‘You’ll never walk alone’ from the Pop-siders, scarves aloft, it was just like Anfield!
Into the clubhouse for a few more pints and to give the rest of the crew a lesson on pool and at half past five and we were on our way. We had a whip-round for the driver so that he would stop at one of those nice country pubs which we passed on the way in and he duly obliged.
“Michelle, we’ve got all the players and club officials with us so whatever you do, don’t upset the Landlord.” I pleaded.
Sure enough she was on her best behaviour.
“Excuse me Landlord old bean, could we possibly have five pints of your finest Yorkshire Bitter?”
Well done Michelle!
Eh, what’s he on about? My suspicions that Auntie Sheila had had too much to drink were confirmed when I turned round to see her doing a ‘Can Can’ on top of the snooker table and singing Villa, Villa here we come!
“That’s it!” Said Michelle, “No more Miss Nice.”
And with that she started a chorus of ‘All Yorkshire men……’ well, you know how it goes.
So it was off to the ‘Welly’ in Harwood but seeing as we couldn’t get a taxi for over two hours, we had to give the pub a miss and got the bus instead. Auntie Sheila had by this time passed out and we had to carry her onto the bus.
“She’s had flu and she’s fainted mate,” I said to the driver who looked as though he was just about to stop us getting on.
There’s never a dull moment when the Blackburn and Darwen Robins are on tour so why not join us for the next trip, and remember……….

Rally Round the Robins!

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©2009 J Fenton