Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Hinckley United 0 Boston United 1

Although I mean no disrespect to Mecca, it’s the away matches in a season which are unfailingly the best experiences. Setting off in a vehicle which may or may not get you there at some god-forsaken hour of a Saturday morning, navigating your way in ever-increasing degrees of inebriation to some tinpot destination you never really thought you’d ever have to go to, standing amidst the hardcore in a condemned shed which somehow passes for a stand and never really knowing whether the team is going to send you into heights of jubilation or depths of despair – it’s ALWAYS, well, an experience.

And so as I once more assumed the navigator role, clutching an on-the-turn can of Carlsberg Export and glaring blankly at a sheet of Google Map instructions, in JB’s blue Corsa as we scorched through the south Lincolnshire countryside with some Hardcore Trance blaring out of the stereo and yelling expletives at doddery drivers, it truly felt as though the season had begun. As usual Jamie Lawson (who will be a regular feature of this blog – on this occasion confidently predicting he could blag his way through the under-16s turnstile despite proudly sporting a full beard) was splayed across the back seat enjoying every hilarious moment.

The Corsa has been a trusty steed in the last few seasons despite some obvious flaws – the oil gauge hasn’t moved since about 2004, the fuel indicator is comfortably a quarter-tank away from accuracy and some days the red light simply doesn’t go out, it lurches scarily to the right on motorways, the speedo is just plain wrong and you can’t see the floors for all the accumulated crap from three season’s worth of road trips. We once gathered enough change from the depths of this five-gear dustbin to pay the Humber Bridge toll. And we can now add to the list tyres that are shredded to f**k after I deliberately ignored a panoply of Road Closed signs somewhere between Grantham and Melton Mowbray. Yet, it has never once failed us. We always get there.

A challenge, not an instruction
Hinckley have a tidy little set up at the Greene King Stadium. Like a number of modern municipal out-of-town developments, it combines a number of facilities – the football ground neighboured a well-kept cricket pitch, there was a new-looking Astroturf behind one of the goals and the rugby ground is just down the road. It’s only been open a few years and is doubtless one of the better grounds in the Conference North but it really hammered home the difference between last season’s division and this. Seemingly gone are the patchworks of bent iron, lengths of MDF meshed together with polyfilla and prayers, the hazardous rusty nails sticking out at eye-level and the ploughed fields on which the action unfolds. Perhaps the character was absent, but it was a pleasant surprise.

Advance Twitter Intel suggested the bar was ‘swanky’ and upon crossing the threshold we were greeted with a mammoth queue. Wow, this club is not only swanky and well-supported as well. Not quite, for the queue was actually all Boston supporters desperately seeking liquid refreshment from a sole, pretty flustered barman. When the line started troubling the car park outside, he must have slammed the panic alarm for a cavalry of three barmaids came running to save him. The travelling support was sizeable - probably the best part of 200 in a crowd of 615 - and there were many familiar faces along with others whom quite frankly I had never seen before in my Pilgrims-supporting life. Among them Andy Pickwell, who also blogs on here and, unlike me, actually bothers to talk about the game.

Danny Davidson
Aside from an early scare when Pilgrims goalkeeper James McKeown acrobatically caught James Reid’s diving header, Hinckley offered precious little going forward and Boston created all the openings. The performance of Danny Davidson came under the microscope among our little gaggle. Davidson is developing into a cult hero at York Street – every side has one: he’s our centre-forward ‘unit’ – but he seemed magnetically drawn to the nearest defender and, in the first-half especially, was the target of every lumped hoof forward. This route one was a bad habit from earlier regimes that Rob Scott and Paul Hurst had successfully exterminated because it just doesn’t work and it was annoying to see it back again.

For the second time in 50-odd hours, Anthony Church was the match-winning hero, tapping in from close range after Miles Hunter, Davidson’s strike partner for the evening, had shown great persistence to square the ball across goal. It was more than enough to earn a second successive win and I racked my brains while waiting out the automobile mêlée in the car park after the final whistle as to the last time I had seen us lose. It was at Whitby on March 24th - my 21st birthday when I had travelled four hours there and four hours back to see us lose 2-0. As you do.

Six points from six. Easy this football lark, isn’t it?

Next match: Redditch United vs. Boston United (Saturday 21st August)

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