As Mark Corrigan of Peep Show said: “It’s impossible to have a good New Year’s Eve, there’s just too much pressure.” Not true, but New Year’s Day is a different matter. Perhaps United felt a little too much pressure to turn over their country rivals for the second time in two months. At times in this bitterly disappointing 3-1 defeat, it also seemed they felt too much pressure to score the perfect goal.
Or maybe the squad had been sinking the ales in Wetherspoons, one of the last legs of a 16-hour binge to bid farewell to 2010, jumping up periodically to improvise dance moves to R ‘n’ B barely audible through the cumulative drunken haze, attracting the laughter of all those around them. After, they’d gone to the premier local nightspot and necked some brightly-coloured alcopops while hopping around on the dance floor to assorted 90s dance, just about remembering the tape-recorded midnight bongs. Perhaps then they’d visited the local fried chicken palace and finger-licked their way through a grease-soaked box of drumsticks and demolished five chicken wraps. Oh wait, that was me and my friends. That’s right.
Surprisingly after such a fond farewell to what had been a fabulous 2010, I was up and about well before 8 considering whether to read Tolkien’s Silmarillion or one of the bounty of Terry Pratchett books stacked up in the particular room of JB’s Lincoln digs I’d eventually crashed in (I thought better of both suggestions). By 10, Mr. Housam and I had kept down a Wethers breakfast, returning to the scene of the previous night’s crimes against the art of dance, and made our way up to the beautiful cathedral to enjoy the sweeping views of the mist-shrouded Roman city. Hungover, you’re having a laff.
With university commitments and the postponement of the December 18th match with Hyde, this was my first visit to York Street since the 4-0 win over Workington in mid-September and I’d thoroughly been looking forward to it. Sadly, the afternoon proved a massive anti-climax, especially after such diligent efforts to get back safely and on time.
Once at York Street, cross-county rozzer watch switched to a hunt for a most elusive creature – the Gainsborough Trinity fan. Well, one that could be arsed to make the obviously intrepid and perilous 50-mile journey across Lincolnshire anyway. On Boxing Day 2007, just 26 of these rare species graced us with their presence, to massive scorn and derision. Today, they flipped those numbers – 62 – and even engaged in some community singing. Annoyingly, despite such piss-poor efforts, they won on both occasions!
Whatever the reason, United, who hadn’t played since the 1-0 success at York (see below), weren’t at the races. They dominated the first-half – at least after an early scare when Ryan Kendall’s shot rebounded to the soon-departing James McKeown off the inside of the post – and played some lovely, passing football which echoed some of the wonderful performances which brought such success in 2010. The build-up around the penalty area, especially that involving Spencer Weir-Daley, was usually excellent but, in a very Arsenal-like manner, there was no finish.
Marc Newsham was the guiltiest party – firstly hitting the woodwork with a glancing header and then lifting a sitter over the bar from 12 yards when one-on-one. Ryan Semple, who looked a bit off-colour, also should have scored from a similar situation, only for Phil Barnes to thwart him. By this point, United were behind. Gainsborough haven’t set the league on fire this season but Sam Aiston was clinical after uncharacteristic lapses in concentration from Lee Canoville and Gareth Jellyman allowed the ball through.