Away Day Robins
New Mills 1 Great Harwood Town 0
Despite the Robins having built up a nine-match unbeaten run, the Blackburn & Darwen Robins were rather thin on the ground.
“Hiyah Billy, it’s me. Are you up for New Mills on Saturday?”
“Sorry Pal, I’m off to the Hawthorns to watch the Rovers.”
“Hiyah Andy, you coming to watch Harwood on Saturday?”
“No, sorry, I’m going out with me Dad for the day.”
“Hiyah Michelle, what time are you coming round on Saturday, I thought we’d set off at about one.”
“Can’t come, sorry Cock.”
“Hiyah Dave, I’ll pick you up at one o’clock near the Aquaduct.”
“No chance, I’m going to the ice hockey game.”
Bloody Hell, what’s going on?
Jimmy ‘Mad-Dog’ Hughes came round and we set off at one fifteen and picked up Phil in Rawtenstall. FC United take over 2,000 to away games and we take……….THREE! (people not thousands!)
The journey was pretty straight forward and we arrived at the ground at 2-30. Although our particular group was a bit pathetic, there were plenty of Robins supporters already there. Alan, Mr. Khan, Dave, Bomber, Bill, Graham, Eileen, Sandra, Harry, Chris, Jim, Jim and Mrs. Jim, Bertie and his buddy, certainly a lot more than most clubs bring to the Interlink. We just had time for a pre-match bevvy before setting up the flag on the Pop-side. The ground was very basic with a bit of a roof on one side and the rest of it open. If it had rained it would have been a right crush!
The pitch looked OK from a distance but once play had begun it was apparent that it was very bobbly which made ball control particularly difficult. The home defence were big and strong and mopped up any high balls played into the New Mills half and it soon became clear that it was going to be a tight game despite New Mills blowing hot and cold this season. The Referee seemed to be very tolerant when Ed O’Neil belted the ball downfield after being penalised but that soon changed as he proceeded to book anything that moved, and indeed anything that didn’t move.
By the end of the game it was easier to list anyone who wasn’t booked. Bobby Harris and substitute Dave Anwar were two of the fortunate ones although the Ref. was seen to sharpen his pencil when he saw Dave warming up!
The game itself was a stop-start affair with the official constantly stopping play to lecture players, a tactic which annoyed both sets of supporters and both management teams. Indeed Hughesy and his New Mills counterpart were both given the ‘schoolteacher’ treatment for comments made to him. The main excitement in the first half came when the man-of-the-moment pointed to the spot after an off the ball incident in the box as Harwood took a corner. Sadly for the Robins John Eastham’s feeble effort was easily saved by the keeper.
The second half began with New Mills looking the more dangerous despite playing up the hill. Bobby Harris soon produced a world-class save to keep us on level terms but just after the hour the Millers went in front in controversial circumstances.
As is often the case when one side gains a penalty, their opponents are handed a similar opportunity and a shoulder to shoulder challenge in the penalty area was deemed to be “A shoulder into the middle of the back”, the referee’s words not mine. Wakefield sent Bobby the wrong way giving us a mountain to climb considering that the home keeper had been almost redundant for most of the previous 63 minutes. The challenges continued to be very hard but on the whole fair. Of course that didn’t deter the Ref. who proceeded to book players for the most trivial foul. Hill was booked for mouthing off, although he claimed it had been someone from the crowd, then he continued to argue for the next ten minutes until he was inevitably shown a second yellow.
The pattern of the game didn’t change though, with Harwood enjoying the majority of possession but New Mills looking the more likely to score with their quick breaks. Fifteen minutes from time they should have sewn up the game when a clear opportunity from 12 yards was hammered against the underside of the Harwood crossbar before being hacked clear. Harwood forced several corners and a couple of goalmouth scrambles, but the best chance was from a free kick just outside the box. Once again the keeper was untroubled as the shot caused more aggravation to the cows grazing in a distant field.
The defeat left everyone frustrated and tempers continued to flare as the players left the pitch. The two managers also looked as though they were about to set about each other as insults were traded.
On the way home we dropped Phil off in Rawtenstall then hit some very thick fog on the Grane Road and we were thankful when we reached the Dog Inn car park. The bar had been redecorated since we last visited and looked very homely. “Two pints please Landlord.”
“This is a farm Mush! The pub’s two hundred yards down the road.”
Oops! Like I said, the fog was really thick.
Join us for the next away game and remember…
Rally round the robins!