Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Kendal Town 2 – 4 Halifax Town; 26/03/11.


So, another one of those away trips for the whole family. But unlike Whitby, which was called off, and Buxton, which we roundly lost, let's do this one right.

Setting off at half 11 got us there for 1pm, before stopping off at the Ring O' Bells Free House near the ground, a no-nonsense pub with a true soul. Conveniently, this was also next to a record fair with all its Associates records going for £2 each, so I left with four of them. I'd made some profit from this away day already. Contrasting sounds rang from outside however, as a few groups of merry Shaymen sung on their way to The Lakeland Radio "Stadium." Arriving there just before kick-off I came through some turnstiles that overlooked the whole complex. The ground is dripping with character. A graveyard overlooks the ground, with housing on the other side. All four stands are painted black-and-white, two of which occupy the touchline straight ahead of me and could contain 200 or so each. The stand behind the goal to my immediate left is set out with steps like a coliseum's; one side of it has a few rows of seats sheltered with the smallest of roofs a few metres above. This roof operates as an awning for the clubhouse overlooking the stand and ground, so mentally weaker "fans" could stay inside and half-watch the England game. On the opposite touchline is a very small black-and-white terraced stand,  succeeded by some long grass banking which on a day like this accommodated a few hundred mingling supporters of the two Towns. Behind the goal at the very end the Lakeland Radio "Stadium" runs out of character. 'Sall hard standing. A complex set-up, but the main plus however is the at-one-with-nature style toilets you get!

 As I descend the steps and take my place, the 891-strong crowd stops to perfectly observe a minute's silence in memory of our assistant manager Trevor Storton, the man who made his name one of legends at Chester City, Park Avenue and finally Halifax Town in the short remainder of his life. Our players had printed out a set of shirts in his memory and hat-trick hero Vardy had his match ball signed by the team and sent to his family. The whistle then went, and a drunken dozen of Town fans on the coliseum steps attempted to chant when they'd lost all sense of rhythm. They were armed with one of the golden cats you find at Chinese takeaways, and a kazoo through which Maff made a phenomenal impression of the atrocious state of the Tannoy system at the Shay: "Today's official attendance ladies and gentlemen—mththmthththtmhtmtmthnm!"

The positivity around the ground got to Danny Lowe, who went further than his position required to slam one in out of the grasp of the Kendal 'keeper. All Shaymen's eyes were smiling, and we sung "There's only one Trevor Storton." Goals were definitely going to come at this match when both teams were fully focused, the pitch's width allowing for wing action, and its surface good enough to play balls on the deck although we were winning headers from the first minute. Danny Holland carried a presence during this half, but he remained absent from the scoresheet. Rough 'n tumbles in our own area earned Kendal a penalty which went off the post and in. Kendal's firepower continued as much as ours, with a powerful shot of theirs just about missing the middle left of Hedge's net. At half-time the Towns were drawing and England were 2–0 up. Lampard and Bent had surpassed themselves by scoring the most boring goals possible for a bunch of world-class millionaires.

After a half-time of watching said "highlights," and watching a few Shaymen gather around Deano in the clubhouse shouting "DEANO, DEANO, DEANO" followed by "YORKSHIRE, YORKSHIRE, YORKSHIRE" and "WE HATE BURNLEY AND WE HATE BURNLEY" (sadly Deano's team of choice), the Shaymen were back on the pitch. The half started a little worryingly as ball control just wasn't happening against an eager Kendal side, but Lee Gregory's move to the right wing gave him an opportunity to cross it into the area in the 54th minute, which met Vardy's own pace faster than the goalie's and the thing went bang in off his head. What followed were a series of Town attacks, including a one-on-one with Lee Gregory, which the Kendal keeper did well to take from his feet. The next goal came at the other side however, a suspected handball and a lack of tackling enough for Kendal substitute Carl Osman to move into space and shoot the goal of the game from the corner of the box to the opposite corner of the net. He'd made it 2–2 after 79 minutes, and the Shaymen would have to dig up a little character again to come back.

Kendal's plans were thwarted within the next couple of minutes by Danny Holland's pass that weaved between the defenders, leaving Vardy to net the top corner before the 'keeper could get to him. Soon after Vardy delivered a firm "never again" to Kendal, their number two clearing the ball the wrong way which went straight to Vardy's feet, his left-footed first-touch going straight through Kendal's beleaguered goalie and into the back of the net. With greedier Town fans pressing the Shaymen for a fifth the ref announced ceasefire and the young steward in charge of the scoreboard wiped some sweat from his brow.

It is now possible for the Shaymen to have the title by Saturday. Get down to the Shay for then and make some noise.

Kendal Town 2 – 4 Halifax Town; att. 891
Ground: 9/10 (probably falls to 6/10 in the rain)
Pitch: 7/10
Programme: 7/10
Talent: N/A
Entertainment: 8/10
Food: N/A


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