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Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
|Town fans at Hayes|
The Long Weekend
By: Chris Smith
HAYES and Yeading away was always going to be a must be trip and it didn't disappoint. This area is very much my old turf and I watched both the Hayes FC and Yeading FC incarnations many times prior to merger. My first game at Hayes in 1989 was at home to Bognor Regis Town as I recovered from ‘flu which stopped me travelling up to a Town game.
Hayes then played in the Isthmian (now Ryman) League before coming up to the Blue Square equivalent in the mid 1990s. I still have a mug celebrating that promotion. Those really were glory days under manager Terry Brown, now at AFC Wimbledon, and having earned much respect in between at Aldershot.
Gary’s dad came up for the game and as an ex-referee, was able to confirm that whilst Terry could be a nightmare during the game (though very entertaining), he was a perfect host afterwards.
I was staying with a friend in Windsor and we had a fatboys in a cafe at Bolter’s Lock on the Thames at Maidenhead. This followed a grind out (Slough expression for pig-out) curry the night before. The houses on the riverside have breathtaking views but a propensity to flood, so I was spared from having to exercise my class hatred too much. After a short drive to Slough, it was a mere ten minute ride to Hayes and Harlington station where I met GyinScuntland before hopping on a bus to the White Hart in Harlington village which had been recently earmarked for demolition to accommodate a third Heathrow runway so that all the NIMBYs in the Home Counties can **** off whenever and wherever they want without having the pesky intrusion of an airport on their own doorstep. The selfish Tory b******s.
Good to see the residents won.
The White Hart lived up to its high reputation as the beer drinkers quaffed top notch Fullers whilst the eternally hungry (me) enjoyed first class home made food. Even Glynn, our group’s resident Egon Ronay, could find NOTHING to complain about on his plate. Rumour has it that compliments were forthcoming. Gary, his dad and an ex work colleague made for a tight knit group before a group of Town fans came in as we were leaving.
There used to be a pub called the Tumblers opposite the railway station which has caught many ex-league fans by surprise as they've attempted to "large it up" in what they thought was quiet suburban Middlesex. Ironically, the pub is now a community centre given that it bred some of the area’s more anti-social behaviour in the past. The one way system took us to another closed pub before we turned into Church Road. There used to be a pub just past the ground and for those who were amazed at being able to nip out for a pint in the clubhouse at half time, this place also used to cater for thirsty fans at the interval. I remember falling over outside it once (and missing a goal).
Talk about missing a goal, there was plenty of queuing at the turnstiles as the Town fans piled out of the boozer/clubhouse/house of ill repute (*delete where appropriate) at the same time. It didn't help that the game seemed to have kicked off early. I'd got talking to a particularly enthusiastic local (Jobber) about past times at Church Road, a ground I'm inordinately fond of, and particularly the home FA Cup game against Hull City in 1999.
That game ended in a two all draw with Hayes coming from behind twice and the London Mariner contingent getting "Ran from the Grimsby, we heard you ran from the Grimsby" ringing around the stand we were in. Little Jim, who was there then and yesterday, recalled it was ringing round the ground and I'll take his word for it given that I'd drunk record breaking amounts of Dry Blackthorn in Slough before that match.
The Hull mascot made gestures at the Hayes fans after their first goal and the subsequent hostility made the News of the World the following day. What a ****. Jobber told me he went up for the replay which Hayes lost three two.
Any self respecting fan in West London who hated Fulham went to see Hayes there one Friday night in 1992. Gary B and I were never going to miss this and joined 5,000 plus Hayes fans whose numbers were swelled by Chelsea, QPR and Brentford supporters. Hayes stuffed them two nil and one stunning goal has since been seen on Match of the Day. I was delighted (as a burgeoning Brentford fan) to have been there (the Bees HATE Fulham) and Gary B and I are always almost misty eyed as we recall that night and mayhem (Hayes were everywhere as that terrace at Fulham was never going to hold them all) during what turned out to be a cracking season for Town.
I even found out last week that a long standing Bees friend of mine was there. It’s a bit like Malta where every one of the 400,000 population would swear they were in the same bar as Oliver Reed when he died in it despite it rivalling the Signal Box (or whatever its called) in Cleethorpes for size.
Jobber is a top Hayes fan and apparently a poster of some mystery on the fans’ web sites though I've got his name now. He said that'll do the fruit of some of the others so it’s not just The Fishy which has its wind up merchants. Jobber also mentioned how pleased the travelling Hayes fans were to be applauded by the Town fans when they came to Blundell Park, something that was alluded to in the programme.
I did ask about a group of ex-Spurs lads who now follow Hayes (an ex colleague’s husband was one of them) and started off a wide array of songs. Whilst a bit coy about it, there seem to be a few of them and much as I dislike Spurs, I can't help liking bon viveurs who kept meticulous booze and footie diaries a la Bridget Jones. Apparently it would read something like Anderlecht away, twenty Stellas. Chelsea away twenty Stellas. You get the picture.
Whilst I don't drink alcohol, five pints of Diet Coke does get the head going and I was well up for a sing-song as I made my way to the covered area. Two disheveled fans were giving it the big one from the Hayes section (a Town and Sunderland fan) which invited abuse from the rest of their party in our bit. The distraction of this almost caused me to miss the build up leading to Town’s first goal. I was aware of a build up down the left and just in time to see a lovely through ball put Hudson in and he made no mistake. Cue demented bouncing around on the terrace.
Now Hayes might not be the most prepossessing ground in the eyes of many Town fans (I like it, so there) but there is a roof with promising acoustics and terracing. What’s not to like?
Town had been very much second best already but Hayes did make some very good moves coming forward and I'd have to agree with Grim Rob and his assessment of Steve Croudson as man of the match. One free kick got us into difficulty with two rebounds being covered just as the home team looked certain to score. When they boinged the woodwork, we feared the worst. However, Eagle gave us some respite when he lambasted one from distance and you knew it was going in as soon as it left his boot. Cue more demented pogoing with Gary, his dad and me simultaneously hugging each other. It’s nice to see someone of more senior years than me having a complete and utter manie. I just hope I never feel self conscious about it in a few decades time when I lob my stick in the air prior to a bout of delirium after a last minute equaliser at Hutton Cranswick or CGB Humbertherm.
Half Time Hayes 0 Town 2
I went into the club shop but it was a bit too packed at the time. I've filled in gaps in my programme collection there over the years (games I'd been to but not got the souvenir) I'm gutted to miss out on a 46/7 Town v Brentford programme. The last time I visited here was a month or two after an arson attack on the old club shop and Lee has done well to make it what it is. I've got the home shirt from 1998 and it is sad to see Hayes' traditional red and white stripes go. Apparently, few Yeading fans turn up, a real shame as it was a lovely club in its own right, and Jobber told me that some of the old Hayes regulars have moved away.
Another official told me that Tom, a Leeds supporting Hayes follower had moved away. I think I might have seen him at Farsley a few years ago but wasn't sure enough to say hello. Tom was hard core Hayes and travelled to quite a few away games whilst giving the opposition the benefit of his forthright views. Tom had a deaf Rottweiler that slept in the cycle path a few miles away in Hanworth Park whilst he rested up. I loved that dog as I hate cycle Nazis and watching the reckless tossers have to slow down and dismount to get round this mutt was always deeply satisfying.
We elected to go behind the goal that Town were attacking for the second half, a motley crew of inebriated London Mariners, a disorientated Sunderland fan (Hi Neil!) myself (buzzing on Coke but only the diet version) and Gary and his dad. Thommo and the Barton crew were just to our right. The request for songs for old times sake came which is dreaded now that I don't have lots of alcohol to fine tune the singing voice. However, "Meet the gang", "Knock knock, who’s there, Wendy..", the two verses of the Bill Shankly ditty, "Those were the days", a Centrefold boogie and "All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, Grimsby Town rule Lincolnshire and Scunthorpe rule f*** all" had a few airings.
Given there are going to be two other match reports for this game, I'll concentrate on the other stuff though I was conscious of the home side pressing and having a few more chances. However, Town were much stronger in this half and could have added to their score with a few going wide when we could have been expected to do better. The floodlights did seem quite dim, which didn't help when picking out what was happening. However, in time added on, Connell ran onto a through ball and struck it. The subsequent kaboing off the post fell to Tom Corner who was denied by a blatant handball. An Alan Connell penalty and three nil! Yet another terrace boogie/pogo/manie and then the final whistle.
Full Time Hayes 0 Town 3
I feel sad for Hayes and Yeading, a club for which I have a lot of affection. The Town fans outnumbered the home supporters but I've been to see Hayes play at Marlow and Maidenhead and take a large and noisy support themselves.
However, what a pleasure to see Town win away by three clear goals, even if it flattered us. When we do get promoted (whenever it will be), it'll be results at these places that will stand out for me. In 1989/90 it is Maidstone and Gillingham away which spring to mind and not necessarily the "bigger" games.
I'd arranged to travel back on the Battle bus a few weeks ago so many thanks to Terry, Janice and the drivers for sorting that out and the drop off at Doncaster services. A great day out but glad to be home having been away for the best part of five weeks. Talking of home, anyone watching the game against Barrow?
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