Today, two years ago, Mirinda was home with the flu. Today, Mirinda was home with the flu. Of course, when I say ‘flu’ I mean she’s feeling a bit poorly. For some reason it seems to happen just before her birthday. Odd.
Anyway, because Mirinda was home feeling poorly, the planned Nicktor Night was hastily re-sheduled to next week. All was not lost, however, as we still went to the Rec to see the Shots play Swindon.
While the rain is still coming in waves (particularly big ones when I took the dogs to the park in the afternoon) and we went prepared in raincoats, the night was clear and dry though very cold. Normally I wear two pairs of socks and a fleece but, for some reason, I forgot. Nicktor laughed at my stupidity as he stood on the slab warm as toast while I gradually froze from the concrete up.
Still, my minor discomforts were quickly forgotten as the Mighty Shots took the lead after 12 minutes. A wonderfully worked goal. The ball went through the defenders like a knife through butter, leaving them melting away. A few deft and rapid passes before Danny Hylton fired at the goal. The goalie managed to parry the shot away but only as far as Mad Joe’s boot and he slotted the shot into the net.
The Slab went mad as did the East Bank. Swindon are top of the league two table and only needed a point tonight to secure promotion. Being in the middle of the table and having had a slight run of bad games, we were clearly the underdogs.
Swindon had brought a lot of travelling supporters to the game (about 1500) and they suddenly fell very silent. Of course, this prompted the Shot’s fans to heap abuse on them for not singing. Chanting “Sing when you’re drawing. You only sing when you’re drawing.”
And so it remained at half time. The new electronic scoreboard told a merry tale – 1-0 to the Shots. Now all we needed was a solid, fighting second half and not a game where we sat back and tried to defend our slender lead.
Things took a turn for the worse after the break. In a goal mouth scramble one of our players handled the ball and the referee did not hesitate. His finger pointed to the spot. Caddis stepped up and smashed the ball passed our keeper. The scores were tied and the Swindon fans suddenly woke up, their scarves waving, their voices trying to rise above the cacophony coming from the East Bank.
Speaking of singing…Bill was on good form tonight. He clearly has no love for Swindon (they were pretty bad during the dim, dark days of football hooliganism and we’d had a slight conversation with a couple of Swindon Neanderthals on the way to the game which probably set him up) and gave vent to his emotions by singing quite rude things relating to their ownership of farm animals and tractors. I never found out why this was relevant but it was very funny.
The game, at 1-1, became a fight for the win. The play was end to end and, while hard, always clean and fair. It was a joy to watch and a credit to both sides. By the end of the game, they knew they’d been in a good fight.
And then, a mere five minutes after the Swindon penalty and in a reversal of the earlier goal, Mad Joe passed a ball across the Swindon goal mouth, leaving the goalkeeper grasping thin air. Danny Hylton gratefully received the ball on his foot and blasted it into the roof of the net. It was a delicious moment; a fantastic goal. We were delirious.
According to Danny, during his post match interview, he’d ‘tapped’ it home. This is an interesting use of the word ‘tap’ which seems to mean ‘hit as hard as possible’. Whatever he calls it, it marked his 16th goal of the season.
There were a few more scary moments as Swindon tried to pull back the draw but we held firm and, as the final whistle blew, rose as one to cheer, applaud and generally lionise our boys. The Swindon fans, to their credit, remained in their stand and sang to their players rather than rushing to the gate to beat someone up for the loss.
A great night and a wonderful win.