Followed the Mighty Brakes away to local derby at Stratford Town last night to help give them their first over 500 crowd for about thirty years. Thanks to the Hucklesbys for the lift and half-time hot chocolate. At this rate other Alliance teams will be welcoming us with open arms as we put £2,000 through their turnstiles. Stratford's average attendance is about 140. £4 in plus £1 for a programme.
Leamington won 3-1 thanks to a Richard Adams hat-trick. For once in my life I can watch a set of strikers who, when put through on goal one-on-one with the keeper, are more likely to score than not and will force the keeper to make a save.
Leamington have played 4, won 4, scored 13 conceeded 2. On Saturday we are in the ninety seventh pre-preliminary round of the jurassic qualifying period of the FA Cup. If we win we are only two games from playing Forest, I keep telling Ben (lived formative years in Nottingham and sticking by his team through thin and thinner). They lost at home to Macclesfield last night.
Outnumbering home fans has always been a great thrill. I enjoyed West Brom's time in the third tier (early 1990s) for that reason alone, culminating in 54,000 of us against 12,000 versus Port Vale at Wembley. Last night we had a good old taunt. Greeted Stratford's consolation goal (hell of a free kick mind, respect) with the cry of 'there's only four of you singing'. Note 'there's' rather than 'there are'. All decent football chants have bad grammar; discuss.
Leamington won by crazy tempo from kick off resulting in several attacks and a tap-in from a flicked on throw-in. Steve Thompson the thrower, back in the side and running like he knew he had to, to keep his place. Leon Morgan the flicker. Big midfielder, deceptively fast, very strong but fades out of the game at times. Richard Adams the sniffer.
Well organised football followed for thirty minutes, soaking up increasing pressure, allowing Stratford to keep the ball across the middle for minutes at a time but never letting them use it incisively, then breaking and scoring just before half-time.
Second half started evenly but we got the crucial next goal and then coasted apart from the free-kick. Stood (stood, stood, ain't standing great eh?) next to a guy in the second half I've met at home games before and had a good chat. We both seemed to see the game the same way and informed each others' opinions. We were disappointed that many of our fellow supporters wanted us to play risky crosses in the last five minutes that might have given the ball away rather than holding what we had.
The free-kick was the result of someone risking a challenge rather than shepherding a midfielder away from goal.
Stratford have sold their ground, crammed as it is between industrial units and Safeways where balls will probably be on sale this morning that many went into their yard. They will soon be ground-sharing with Studley. Money for players?
Have just realised that getting into the televised rounds of the FA Cup might end up with all our strikers being sold. Suggest they all go to ground more easily in future because Richard Morris the keeper takes penalties and he isn't quite good enough to sell upwards - yet.
'Can he get back if he misses a penalty?' asks our programme.
'Don't know,' it answers itself, 'he hasn't missed one yet.'
Great night out.