There is something about large followings away from home at this level of football, that just get the juices going all the little bit more than a normal League 2 matchday, and with some 9 coaches heading through Derby and onto Staffordshire, this would be such a time to be excited.
With the bad blood from the end of the County game now firmly put to the back burner, and with them now free falling again and up for sale, we could settle down and plot the last few games of this promotion type push for the holy grail of League One Football.
I along with a few other esteemed friends and family, had booked on Minty’s excellent ‘non family friendly’ travel and was informed well ahead of the day, that some 5 coaches had been arranged, along with three bingo coaches from the ground and one from the Shirebrook Stags.
Our planned stop off on the outskirts of Stoke, had according to PC Bullshit been leaked to the Stoke City Hooligan Society, and subsequently they were planning an ISIS led assault on the said 5 coaches as we sat in a pub eating uncooked chips and steak, along with having a pint or two before heading for the match.
Still it allowed my non so famous tale of being beaten up outside the old Victoria Ground in Stoke, to get another airing. You might think that it was nothing out of the ordinary, apart from there was 11,000 odd there that night, and I was set upon on the way into the ground, and then straight after the match as well, by the same bloody bloke no less, yes fucking hilarious!
The plan, therefore had to be changed and instead we invaded Uttoxeter, which took the local bar landlords, a little by surprise, no less than the Olde Talbot, which was dangerously overcrowded for the duration of the two hour social gathering.
The nice Police brigade then saw to us having an hour long escort all of the twenty odd miles to Vale Park, with the locals sort of taken aback as they saw the large contingent of away supporters descend on the away end.
Parking duty left a lot to be desired as it took a further ten minutes to park straight, but we were soon in the ground just five minutes before kick off, with most of the seats in the allocated away end taken, apart from segments down the bottom, with a restricted view, unless you were bent over backwards, and had binoculars with you.
I should at this point mention, that I was still in my two month alcohol sabbatical, so whilst most around me were half cut, I was mearly trying to work out if I bellowed loudly in other people’s ear, after having half a dozen pints pre-match, I obviously do, so left it at that and settled in to watch the match.
Clearly from just the opening moments, other managers have done a job on us, I would even say following Yeovil’s lead, and pressing the hell out of us, as far up the pitch as possible and not letting us pass our way through.
We have no answer, and it’s at this time of a season when we are coming up against teams near the bottom of the league, i.e County and Vale, where we have little way of a plan B.
The first half should have seen us 1-0 up at least, as Ajose saw his penalty saved, my view was that restricted, I thought Grant had missed it for a further ten minutes of the half!
Still it wasn’t quite as restricted as Bez’s, as he came down minutes into the second half bemoaning the fact we were losing 1-0, despite the fact I had just watched Miller strike twice to put the home side 2-0 up.
I will have nightmares over Benning’s part in the opening goal, he may have well have hit in the top corner himself, what a touch that was to set Vale on their way.
Despite Ajose netting a consolation, and the ten minute spell that the Stags did create anything worthy of note, Vale should have won this 4-1 or maybe he 5-1, this writer wouldn’t have complained anyway.
As the second half wore on, words were exchanged between supporters in front of me, as though they needed to square up with one another, what on earth is this all about?
I later heard of trouble in the toilet at half time, again what on earth is this all about?
I purposely left my seat and walked up to the top of the stand before the final whistle, as I would have been wound up over ‘fans’ sticking two fingers up again and telling the players they were all ‘fucking wank’, after County I couldn’t be arsed with listening to it again.
In the 90’s when I was at every game following the Stags, when we were going for promotion, I can remember these sort of large followings, the likes of taking 8 coaches to Bury and some 900 to 1000 supporters was a massive buzz, but the atmosphere even when we were behind was a lot livelier than the flat effort from this game.
Fans are too busy trying to argue with one another than getting behind the team, do we deserve this promotion push, because for one thing, we don’t look to be enjoying it!
All that was left from a disappointing day, was to wait four hours to be kicked out of the car park, with no escort this time, and for us to get back later than a trip to Plymouth, although we did stop for another hour back in said Uttoxeter so mustn’t grumble, I need to have a pint!
And for the record, we took 1,430 to this match, and sung twice all game.