Saturday, 17 December 2011

Guiseley AFC 2 Boston United 1

This has to be the most straightforward away fixture I’ve ever been to, or am ever likely to go to. In a productive morning, I was able to get a haircut, complete all my Christmas shopping, cook some lunch, clean my flat, watch the entirety of Football Focus and only then think about going to the football. 
I stepped on to a train in Leeds at 2.02pm, stepped off the train in Guiseley at 2.14pm and arrived at the ground at 2.19pm. You simply don’t get easier than that. On the return journey, I was back in time for 606. Not that I can stand the morons who call in but the point is that I could have listened to it if I’d wanted. 
Unfortunately, this didn’t detract from the fact that the destination was, once again, Guiseley. Saturday was my fifth visit to Nethermoor in four years - the fortunes of our two clubs seem to have been inextricably linked in the recent past and I’ve now seen Boston play them on more occasions home and away than any other team. 
The match, my last away trip of 2011, was destined to be better than our visit in the regular season just over a year ago - when I stood in biblical rain watching an abysmal 0-0 draw - but nowhere near as fun as our visit in the play-off semi-final when, despite ultimately losing 1-0, 500 travelling Boston fans created a din audible over the Pennines in Burnley. 
The first point to make is that it was cheek-numbingly cold - layers are fine as protection from the scything Yorkshire wind, but useless if you’re going to lose heat through your head by not wearing a hat and feet by wearing smart, but inappropriate footwear. I didn’t have a hat and was wearing smart, inappropriate footwear - I’ve never learnt this in all my years of watching football and resorted to hopping about from one foot to the other in the second half so my brain could maintain communication with the lower half of my body. 
Our support was perhaps a tenth of that memorable night here in May and we couldn’t really be bothered to make any noise. At one point, Lawson Jr put his drum on the floor, that’s how under-used it was. He did though give it a few hefty thwacks during half-time to disrupt an on-pitch medley of Christmas songs by the local brass band, drawing dirty looks from the natives. But then he does have quite a record of pissing off the people of Guiseley. 
The 508 gathered - including three dogs of classic non-league cliche: a lively Border Collie who chased the ball through the game, a brown labrador and Digby, the biggest dog in Yorkshire, who ended up in the middle of the fighting after the game in April - saw Boston take an early lead. 
Right in from of our position, a shoddy backpass was seized upon by the alert Marc Newsham and he slotted the ball in from a tight angle to give us an unexpected lead against the high-flying Yorkshiremen. The players celebrated in the corner and having run down from the terrace to warm my already freezing feet, I thrust my hand out to try and get a high-five. Danny Sleath obliged, but we both mistimed the slap and swiped at thin air. We both looked away, embarrassed.
Conforming to local stereotype, the home fans ended every shout with the word LAD. So it was “Go wan, Danny LAD”, “Knock it through Simon LAD”, “Gerra foot in Kev LAD.” This caused us great amusement and for the rest of the afternoon, everything said ended with LAD. I think you had to be there really. 
Our mischievous joy was short-lived. Guiseley won a free-kick on the edge of the box and as Andy Holdsworth lined it up, I got that instinctive sinking feeling. Of course, it deflected through the wall and flashed past Paul Bastock. The home fans celebrated, well, like there was no one there. 
The hosts dominated the rest of the half but Boston restricted them to long-range efforts, which soared reliably towards the Leeds-Ilkley railway line. United were improved in the second-half and, to their credit, persisted with their neat passing approach in the absence of target man Jason Lee. Ian Ross tried an audacious shot from the half-way line which had the home keeper scrambling as it dipped inches over the bar. 
But Guiseley are notoriously hard to beat and, in keeping with their third position in the table, kept plugging away. Their reward came on 77 minutes, as Holdsworth’s well-taken strike claimed the points, and you couldn’t really argue. In that spirit, I punched the back of the stand, which obviously smarted a great deal in this lovely cold weather. At least it didn’t take long to get home and thaw out. 

Next Match: A few days at home over Christmas will allow me to take in Boston United v Eastwood Town on Boxing Day.