Sunday 15 September 2013

Land of the Giants

Friendly locals, freedom to wander unrestricted around the pitch, and a pre-match pint in the club bar. What’s not to like?

After all the fuss over the Wrexham fixture, the trip to Salisbury was like stepping back in time.

The stadium, on the outskirts of the city, and sub-1000 crowd was reminiscent of some of our away-days as we progressed up through the leagues. For Blues fans who enjoy the grass-roots experience and expect to “go where they want” this was a day to savour.

Yet there was also something missing. Atmosphere.

After visits to Barnet, Kidderminster and the Racecourse I’d got a taste for the bigger grounds of former football league clubs.

It’s all very nice and touchy-feely being able to mingle with opposition fans, exchanging nods as we change ends at half time, but give me a proper away terrace or stand every day.

It doesn’t take many Blues to create an atmosphere – and there were about 150 of us at Salisbury – but spread them thinly around the ground and it’s gone. Nothing against the place, but for me Salisbury summed up exactly why it’s so important that we keep the momentum going.

It looks like it’s going to be a struggle. Salisbury, promoted from Conference South last season, thoroughly deserved the 3-1 win. They were bigger, faster and more purposeful and tore us apart at times.

The Salisbury back four looked as if they’d all been cloned from American football quarterbacks. They even seemed to have the same haircuts. But these giants could also play a bit and my only consolation from this game is the hope that Salisbury will turn over a few other teams this season with their brand of power play.

It would be easy to knock it but they have clearly adapted better to life in the Conference and, although it’s still early days, got the formula for this division spot-on.

Despite the Blues taking the lead the writing was on the wall before the home side’s equaliser. John Danby take a bow – some of the saves he pulled off to keep the game alive were breathtaking.

There was a good spell from Chester after the break but in a depressingly familiar theme nothing came of it. We don’t seem to have the answer to quick-breaking sides and it wasn’t much of a shock when a second goal was shipped. The third didn’t make much difference because a few heads seemed to have dropped by then.

The final minutes will be remembered for the sending off of debutant Shaquille McDonald and a moment of pure farce.

Frankly if the loanee from Peterborough was going to take a swing at one of their hulks, he should have brought a chair. It simply rubbed in the feeling that this was men against boys.

The late, unscheduled appearance of a sky-diver, who landed on the pitch, at least provided some light relief.

Adrian Lee