This post is quite tricky to write since I’m doing it on the Monday after the second leg, knowing the final outcome, but I’ll try and make it as contemporaneous as possible.
Sandwiched in the heart of our departmental Production Week, for which I had been appointed editor, was the play-off, semi-final first leg against Guiseley. Being the responsible editor that I am, I sacked off the mountain of planning, prep and pain-staking research of Sheffield councillor candidates I should have been doing and jumped in the Rover Cooler (the heating has finally been turned off, just in time for summer) with Andy to return to Guiseley.
This was my fourth visit to Nethermoor in three seasons and the feeling of déjà vu was getting a bit annoying. At least it couldn’t be any worse than the trip back in October when we battled through biblical rain to be rewarded with a bloody awful goalless draw which was very quickly forgotten.
Guiseley, just as they were in clinching the Unibond League title last season, are a bastard of a team to beat. We’ve won against Alfreton twice and Telford, and outplayed Nuneaton, but never seem to get any joy against the Yorkshiremen, whose granite-tough back line and tricky strikers guarantee a tough 90 minutes. This game was no exception and, despite playing superbly for an hour and creating a number of chances, we came away trailing in the tie.
The winning moment was good enough to grace any game of football. Warren Peyton’s 40-yard free-kick wouldn’t have been out of place in the Premier League or World Cup and sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say “fair enough.” In the end, 1-0 isn’t a disastrous result – it’s a slender advantage, but by no means a safe one, plus it will coax Boston into attacking from the outset at York Street on Sunday.
Andy and I travelled independently from the usual faces, who had chartered a Party Minibus. With the beers and tainted Panda Pops flowing, Look North viewers were treated to footage of the Yoof piling off in full voice and a pissed-up Jambo pointing and yelling a chant he couldn’t even remember!
The Boston support was magnificent as ever, with about 500 in the 1,022 crowd, which, not meaning to be harsh, underscored how tiny Guiseley will be in the Conference. The new stand in the corner, which was just a marquee with a few green seats in it, and the failing floodlights just before half-time, confirmed the tinpot impression. Having said that, smaller clubs can prosper in the Conference and Guiseley are masters in the underdog role.
We bopped, bounced, chanted and abused for the whole 90 minutes and all the way through half-time, packing out the small stands along one side and showering the place with confetti and toilet paper. Some of the Yoof were pretty much standing on the roof, it was so cramped. I don’t think anyone will disagree that our supporters reign supreme in this league.
United bossed the first-half but didn’t convert their chances. The referee failed to spot a clear handball in the box half-way through the second and many started to feel it wouldn’t be Boston’s night. The original official had been replaced just before half-time (just after the lights had gone out, I assumed he was a trained electrician. Turned out he was injured) and his replacement, a Prince Harry lookalike, was too busy thinking of Pippa Middleton’s ass to spot that Simon Ainge had handled Adam Boyes’ header.
The fatigue of a long season started to show and Guiseley controlled the last 30 minutes, pinning United back in their own half and eventually breaking through with Peyton’s spectacular free-kick.
It was sad to see a few scuffles breaking out between the fans and stewards at the end. Unsurprisingly, three or four Guiseley fans took umbrage at our superior support and, as the “Guiseley is a shithole, I wanna go home” song was given its 50th airing it started to kick off. I wouldn’t have got involved; one of them had a dog which made Digby the Biggest Dog in the World look like a midget. It would have eaten a few Yoof for starters...
Back to York Street, it’s only half-time.