Monday 30 September 2013

Camping Out For A Chester Away Win

"I fancy a weekend away in the campervan", my wife said some weeks ago. "Where are Chester playing?". You can't fault that sort of pro-active thinking from a wife who has no real interest in football nor pretends to understand her husband's addiction to following a team playing at a level of football that she'd never heard of until we started going out with each other. As we'd already decided to travel to Salisbury by train, Halifax became the unlikely destination so, after much surfing on t'internet, we found ourselves driving the short distance over the M62 on the Friday night to Hipperholme to set up base camp ahead of the Blues match at the Shay.

Hipperholme may not be the most obvious place to go camping (being just 3 miles outside the former mill town of Halifax) but it is conveniently located on a regular bus route plus we'd bagged the last of the 5 pitches on the campsite and, oh yes, it is also home to the Halifax Steam Brewing Co which is housed in the same large portacabin as the Good Beer Guide listed Cock o' the North pub - you'll do me! A few beers and a cracking curry at the down to earth and very friendly Home Indian takeaway/café and that was Friday night sorted.

Saturday - match day and a short 10 minutes bus ride into Halifax to meet up with fellow Chester fans. However, the usual posse had opted for a pre-match real ale crawl around Huddersfield but fortunately Chester's exiled Cork correspondent was in town as part of a round the country in as short a time as possible visit - he'd flown in for the Gateshead away game and between the 2 matches had managed to visit Inverness, John o' Groats, Wick, London, Birmingham, London (again), Leeds & Bradford.

A short pub crawl ensued taking in both Wetherspoons, the Duke of Wellington, Dirty Dick's Ale Emporium and the Shears Inn, with the briefest of visits to the ever excellent Three Pigeons which was wedged with a mixture of home fans mingling with a good away following.

And so to the game ......

Sadly the Chester fans were confined to the stand rather than enjoying the sunlit away terrace but this did allow for an excellent atmosphere where the 450+ Chester fans totally outsung a very poor 1,350 home following.

As for the match, the Blues fell behind within the first 5 minutes with another calamitous defensive mix-up but this only served to pull the lads together and they then admirably took the game to Halifax in an excellent first half display which saw Seddon put clean through only for former Blue keeper Glennon to make a good save but Seddon was to make amends when a well worked corner went out to Higginbotham on the edge of the area and his goalbound header was flicked on by the former Shayman to deservedly equalise for the Blues.

Chester grew in confidence and continued to press but Glennon was equal to the challenge and made an excellent double save from Lindfield then Heath helped Chester maintain parity with a cracking tackle as Gregory was about to fire on goal.

The second half was an anti-climax in comparison with Chester unable to continue their first half good work and on 64 minutes the Shaymen scored the winning goal with a header from yet another corner. In a rare second half bid to stay in the game, the lively Titchiner found Lewis Turner but his effort cleared the bar.

At the end of the match I managed a quick pint in the Three Pigeons prior to meeting up with the usual posse for a post-match autopsy in the Duke of Wellington, after which myself and Mrs J headed back to Hipperholme via the Shoulder of Mutton in Southowram then the Red Rooster and Richard Oastler in Brighouse.

Another top curry in the Home Indian curry café was followed by last orders at our on-site pub. All in all, a good weekend despite the Blues result although I could've done without the raging hangover on the Sunday!

By Howard Jolley