Sunday, 20 February 2011

Workington AFC 3 Boston United 5

When even the preview on the official website calls it a ‘mammoth journey’ you really know you’re setting yourself up for a fall. Nine hours of train travel awaited me on Saturday morning, the destination the Cumbrian town of Workington for the longest away trip of the season. It was either going to be the best day of the season or the most miserable train ride of my life.

I think should carry two things. The first a massive disclaimer saying the club will not be responsible for any loss of earnings resulting from an inexplicable addiction to following the side to far-flung destinations such as this. And also that the club shall not be responsible for any raised blood pressure, stress, bruised limbs or gashed hands incurred during the process of celebrating, or general shortening of life expectancy from watching your team toss away a two-goal lead, only to claw it back and then win the bloody thing in the final ten minutes.

Secondly, I’d like to see a Foreign Office-style Travellers Advice page. The Workington entry would probably read something like:

“Fans should be aware that Workington is located quite some way from Boston and only the most mentally incapacitated (sorry, loyal) should bother to board the coach. If you are of a nervous disposition in treacherous snowy conditions, are susceptible to DVT or quickly grow bored of the company of fellow passengers, do not board the coach. If you insist on travelling, please equip yourself with adequate entertainment for the journey and a shovel and warm blanket or hot water bottle in case we get stuck or break down.

“If travelling independently, ensure you make your train for the return or risk going through Barrow. Also, it is advised to make some sandwiches and to buy a newspaper with many supplements. Exercise caution when touching parts of Borough Park because the stands are largely rusted through and could come tumbling down at any moment. Do not swing from the rafters on pain of death.

“It is inadvisable to mention the 2009 floods not to include mentions in chants or songs. Failure to comply may result in verbal admonishment by stewards. If you must remove your shirt and swirl around your head like a lunatic when Marc Newsham scores please be aware that Workington lies on the Irish Sea coast and your nipples will harden.

“No immunisations or Visas necessary.”

A game rich in entertainment unfolded thus:

0-1: James Cullingworth bombs down the right and whips in a beautiful cross which finds Adam Boyes. He prods the ball towards goal but fails to find a clean connection in the quagmire of a penalty area. Fortunately, the defenders are feeling charitable and present the ball back to him. Boyes prods it again but this time it squirms underneath the goalkeeper’s body into the corner of the net. 50-odd Boston fans bounce about behind the goal.

0-2: A cracker, again from Boyes. Receiving the ball some 30 yards from goal, but with the angle against him, he unleashes. The ball sails just inside the upright. His career tally is again doubled. Some of us think about swinging from the rafters – get a handful of rusty metal.

1-2: Immediately from the kick-off, Danny Sleath falls flat on his arse and Nick Rogan is set free on goal. The striker deceives Haystead and slots the ball home into an empty net. Our enthusiasm is curbed. Twirling scarves are lowered.

2-2: Another stunner. Cullingworth has probably handled, but the ball squeezes through to Anthony Wright who smashes the ball into the top corner, leaving Haystead no chance. A Coke can suffers our wrath. General sense of annoyance.

3-2: Five minutes after the break, Workington’s comeback is complete. Lee Canoville is stuck in the mud and Gareth Arnison glides past to shoot. Haystead parries but Phil McLuckie reloads and David Hewson heads home. Anger and disbelief.

3-3: Time ebbing away. Shaun Pearson strides over the ploughed furrow and is upended by Tom Smyth. Penalty. We bounce down the terrace in expectation and Marc Newsham makes no mistake. Relief.

3-4: Miles Hunter, a substitute, makes his impact, sliding in Newsham. He showed brilliant composure to bring the ball under his spell and finish. State of wonderment. Inevitably, overgarments are removed.

3-5: Hunter splits the home defence asunder again. He could finish himself but unselfishly tees up Ryan Semple, who smashes hope. Broad smiles all round. That five hour trip home not looking all that bad....

Next Match: Another away trip on Saturday, this time to Stafford Rangers

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