And so we entered another year following Boston United with a New Year’s Day jaunt to Eastwood Town. It hadn’t taken much persuasion to steer well clear of the bright lights of Leeds to ring in 2012 and, with a clear head and dignity intact, I stepped on the chugger for the straightforward journey to Langley Mill.
Alighting in the Nottinghamshire town, I was relieved to find the weather dry as I strode out on the two-mile walk to Coronation Park. I imagine the conversation would go something like this:
Shergold: It’s most kind of you to keep things nice and dry as I’ve got this quite long walk to do.
God: That’s alright, Adam. As a Boston United fan, I feel you’ve suffered enough.
[200 yards later, it has got quite a bit wetter]
Shergold: You f**king b**tard, I’m absolutely drenched. I’m wearing a wool coat and smart, but inappropriate, footwear, which is now caked in mud because Nottinghamshire County Council seem to have forsaken this stretch of pavement. I don’t have a hat, or gloves. Or an umbrella. I’m going to smell like a shaggy wet dog when I get there and I’ll have to dry this coat out for the next two weeks. And it’s nice of you to wait until I’m 200 yards down the road before popping the clouds, so it’s too late to get a bus or taxi.
God: Sucker. Happy New Year.
Looking and smelling like a shaggy dog, I arrived at the ground, which had been the scene of a very entertaining 2-2 draw on my sole previous visit about this time last year. Mikel Suarez had equalised in the last minute and sparked wild celebrations, during which I was leaning over the barrier clutching Lee Canoville’s shirt. Despite being 90% water, I did chuckle when seeing the child’s playground behind the away end - the one that appeared when our fans knocked through the back of the stand last time.
In teeming rain, and on a pitch deteriorating to the point that it would soon need ploughing, Boston started atrociously. The official match report described it as: ‘United were caught out in the right back position and after Paul Bastock had kept out an initial drive from Christie, Green sailed an effort beyond the Boston keeper via a large deflection off the unfortunate Tom Ward.’
I’ll translate. Jordan Fairclough, losing all perception of time and space at right-back, failed to notice that Christie had glided past him and had sufficient space to meet an otherwise innocuous ball across goal. After Bastock redeemed him, the ball fell to Green, who smacked an effort towards goal which hit Ward’s arse and wrong-footed the keeper, who was not one bit responsible for the shambles in front of him. The 300-strong travelling support, who easily made up half the crowd if not more, were hit by a strong sense of deja-vu in light of Boxing Day and the goal sapped their enthusiasm more than any amount of rain ever could.
Thankfully, there was little cause for alarm. United tore down the other end and, after captain Kevin ‘Keef’ Austin’s enormous shorts were muddied by Christie’s foul, Ian Ross swept home a delicious 25-yard free kick before racing down to perform the timeless Klinsmann dive in front of us.
The warm feeling generated by such a bizarrely brilliant celebration lasted all of five minutes. Again, I’ll allow the official website to describe what happened: ‘Jordan Fairclough was caught napping and steered an attempted back-header beyond Bastock and Christie was left with a simple tap-in.’
Basically, a barely-threatening punt up field turned dangerous when Fairclough, still with no perception of space or time, confused Bazza with the Jolly Green Giant and headed the ball about five foot over his head, allowing Christie, who had been loitering in the unlikely event that Fairclough ate lots of sweetcorn before shooting practice in training and always studied the tin, would do exactly that.
Our fitness coach-cum-manager pulled a masterstroke by introducing Ryan Semple at half-time and our favourite wife shagger ran his marker ragged for the entire half, as United pressured like a screw being turned into some IKEA flat-pack furniture (local reference to Eastwood there, you probably missed it).
Inevitably Semple’s class told as his centre was netted by fox-in-the-box Marc Newsham for 2-2. Once the initial delirium had subsided, the sense of relief, as it had been a week earlier, was palpable. The winner must surely come? it didn’t on this occasion - even Gaffer Lee’s late header soared over the bar when he seemed destined to score. Two points dropped unfortunately.
Next Match: United host Blyth Spartans this weekend, so I will seek entertainment up in the North. And it’s FA Cup third round weekend, so I shouldn’t have to look too far.