Away Day Robins
The latest away day report comes from the trip to Nantwich Town.
As you may have read in recent away days, I’ve been having car trouble and with Michelle unable to go on trips lately, we’ve been in a bit of a dilemma. Last time I borrowed my darling wife’s car but this time she said:
“There’s no way you’re borrowing my car again to take your dirty, smelly, uncouth, drunken hooligan friends to football!”
“Well, I won’t be able to go to Nantwich then, will I?”
“NO! So you can do something useful today for a change.” She snarled.
“O.K. I’ll go down to the allotment precious,” I grovelled.
“I’ll just phone the lads and tell them the bad news.”
I picked up the phone and with my finger pressed firmly on the receiver button, I dialled a number and pretended to speak to Dave. The wife’s so dumb she’ll never cotton on, tee-hee!
“That’s right Dave, we’ll have to give it a miss, sorry mate, can you tell the lads? Cheers, see you at the next home game.”
With that, I nipped upstairs for the flag and stuffed it up my jumper.
“Right darling, I’m off to the ‘plot now, see you in a bit.”
“It’s just as well you’re going to do some manual work, you’re putting on weight.” She said while eyeing up my ‘fat’ belly.
Picked up Dave, Billy ‘The Kid’ and Jimmy ‘Mad-dog’ Hughes and we set off at 1-30. It was a glorious sunny afternoon and tee-shirts were the order of the day. There were no hold-ups until we were about 2 miles from Nantwich when we hit the turn off for Stapley Water Gardens. The traffic lights had been turned off and a Copper was at the junction directing traffic. Just our luck! He stopped our line just as I got to the lights. We waited, and waited and waited. Two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes. Is he taking the Mickey? “Drive on!” Shouted Billy. “Run him down, we’re going to miss the kick-off,” shouted Jimmy. “Blow your horn,” screamed Dave. I took Dave’s advice but ‘Plod’ was unimpressed and came marching over to the car.
“’Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello, what seems to be the problem ‘ere then?” He said as he glared towards me.
“We’re late for the football game cock,” I told him. “It’s two minutes to three and we’ve got to find the ground yet so we’d appreciate it if you’d let us through.”
“Just be patient young fella-me-lad,” Replied ‘Plod’.
We’ve got to get there quickly you goomer, I’m the referee!”
“Oh, I didn’t know that, you should have said before.” And with that, he went back to the middle of the road and stopped the other traffic to let us through. As we drove past, Billy lobbed out a half-filled can of Stella which caught the Copper just above the eye.
“See ya later sucker!” I cried as we sped off towards Nantwich. By the time he’d got to his feet and tried to get our registration number, we were just a blot in the distance. Arrived at the ground with one minute to spare but the car park was full so we had to turn around and park further down the road. Ran back to the ground and made it in as the players kicked off. One glance at the bench filled us with trepidation. It was empty! After the previous performance against Ramsbottom at Colne, we were full of optimism, but here we were back to stage one. With the sun beating down making it the warmest day of the year so far, and the risk of injuries always there, we soon decided that a draw would be a great result. But we needn’t have worried, for despite the rock hard pitch, we soon got the measure of it and with Steely, Dennis and Pricey pulling the strings in midfield, we began to get on top. Nantwich looked particularly dodgey at the back and Young and O’Neil up front were causing them problems.
A great move down the left between Dennis and Ryan Dervish, ended with a cross to the edge of the box which was expertly ‘dummied’ by Ed. Running in behind him was Pricey who trapped the ball with his right foot, side-stepped a defender and belted the ball with his left foot towards goal. It flew into the top left-hand corner of the goal with the keeper having no chance. The Harwood following of about a dozen went crazy. The rest of the half saw the Robins control things for the most part with Dennis very prominent, although the bumpy pitch meant that we had to really concentrate at the back. One breakaway from the home side ended with a great chance which a defender somehow poked away for a corner with the forward about to equalise. Having said that, the majority of the play took place in the Nantwich half and they looked a little bereft of ideas. The break was reached with the Robins still in front and maybe slightly disappointed that there was only one goal in it.
The second period got under way with the travelling supporters thinking that Nantwich would come at us ‘all guns blazing’ after their lethargic first half showing, but it was the Robins who took the game by the scruff of the neck. Despite having only eleven good men and true, and playing against the slight wind, we began to keep the ball on the floor and for the most part, we had the ‘Dabbers’ chasing shadows.
The home keeper needed to be alert on several occasions to keep his side in the game and produced a top class save to deny Mark Young his first goal in Harwood colours. Youngy was in fact, having a great game up front, as was his partner Ed O’Neil, allowing the home defence no time at all to settle, and causing them to launch the ball out of play on many occasions.
A bad tackle 30 yards out gave us the opportunity to get the big-guns forward and a perfect delivery by Dennis from the direction of the sun had the keeper blinded. He totally mis-judged it, allowing Ged Walsh to steal in and get a touch with his head. The ball trickled towards, and then over the line, YEEESSSS! 2-0 and surely that was game, set and match. Nantwich were now in disarray and Youngy, Steely and Daz all came close to putting the icing on the cake.
Then with just 8 minutes left, a rare mistake on the Harwood left enabled a cross to find a Nantwich forward who headed into the net. Oh no! Surely we can’t blow this one after being so much in control. The Dabbers long-haired sub. who had been the only player who looked capable of doing anything constructive, ran at the defence with menace but the danger was cleared. Another Harwood raid down the left involving Dervish, Rogers and Hill, ended with a cross into the box where Price, Steele, O’Neil and Young were racing in. The ball arrived at Youngy’s feet, he turned one way and then the next, and as the covering defender tried to unravel his legs, the striker curled the ball into the top corner of the net, assisted by a slight deflection which took it away from the keeper’s grasp. The three supporters behind the goal could now celebrate and a Mexican Wave broke out. Opposing supporters came round to congratulate us on our victory and commend us on our vocal backing of the team. Before the final whistle, we had several more chances to increase the lead with at least three shots whistling just a foot wide. The players were cheered off the pitch by the few die-hards but unfortunately, my wife phoned just at that moment. “You’ll have to come home now, your tea’s ready, and what’s all that shouting?” “Oh, right, ah, I’ll just have to put these onions in, and ah, someone’s got the radio on really loud, see you soon. Quick everybody, in the car, no time for a pub but at least we won’t get barred.”
We had to make a slight detour on the return journey to take programmes and souvenirs to our good mate Paul in Timperley. He’s the man who’s about to set up an Altrincham branch of the Robins supporters club and has kindly offered to help with the programme next season. Dropped the stuff off and gave him the good news before deciding to stop for a quick celebration drink. We chose a really posh golf club but as we approached the bar, a particularly well-spoken bloke with a monocle said:
“I say, we don’t serve riff-raff with jeans on, clear owf.”
“Come on lads, we know when we’re not wanted.”
And we turned to leave, but as we opened the door there was a scream from the lounge. We turned round to see Jimmy ‘Mad-dog’ stood there in his Simpsons boxer shorts and demanding that the barman serve him, as he wasn’t wearing his jeans now. A lady in a ball gown was administered smelling salts, and the barman shouted: “GET OUT! YOU’RE ALL BARRED!”
As the poor lady was indisposed, I decided to knock back her gin and tonic as it seemed a shame to waste it, and Dave grabbed a hand full of canapés from a table before we all ran off towards the car. A couple of blokes ran after us and we could see them writing something as we sped off.
“Hope they didn’t get our number,” I said.
We made our way through South Manchester before getting on the M60. Sadly, after a few miles, a squad car pulled in front of us and motioned for us to stop.
“What seems to be the problem officer?”
“We’ve had a report of stolen drinks and food from the local golf club, know anything about it?”
“No way,” I said, “We’ve only been to watch the football this afternoon,” I lied.
Unfortunately, the officer was rather eagle-eyed and he spotted the pate, smoked salmon, and quails egg remains around Dave’s mouth and also eyed up the oyster shells on the parcel shelf.
He also noticed the smell of gin on my breath!
“I’m going to have to ask you to accompany me to the station Mush!” He replied menacingly.
Just then the phone rang. “Your tea’s drying up in the oven, hurry up! What are you doing?" Demanded my spouse.
“Oh, ah, sorry, I’ve had a puncture which I’m just sorting out.”
“Do you want me to walk down to the allotment to help you?” She asked.
“NO! I’ll be as quick as I can.”
Three hours later, we were released from Altrincham police station with a stern warning.
Just as we got to Haslingden, the phone rang, but this time it was Billy’s. “Yes, I’ll be home soon, love you Sweety-pie, hugs and kisses, and going to hold you tightly in my arms all night, bye.”
“Ah, that’s nice Billy, I always thought that you’d get fed up with your girlfriend after a couple of months but you’ve been with her for almost a year now. How sweet that you still talk to her all lovey-dovey.” “THAT WASN’T HER, IT WAS HER BEST MATE!”
And they say that romance is dead! Join us for the next trip, there’s never a dull moment with the Blackburn & Darwen Robins.
Rally round the robins!