Tonight I went (with Nicktor and Bill) to my twelfth football ground, Prince’s Park. While this is nothing when compared with Nicktor (or Bill’s for that matter) tally, I reckon it’s not a bad total over about ten years. It took a while to work out how many, exactly (I’d forgotten grounds like Wembley and Crawley), but we managed to get to 12 in the end. Nicktor was very pleased I’d made double figures.
And tonight’s ground is now my favourite.
We went to Dartford. Prince’s Park was only opened in 2006 and is mostly terracing, though all covered (unlike our beloved slab). They have included a wonderful area on one side which includes a bar (or two) where everyone is welcome to mingle pre-game. The walls are decorated with notable football quotes from some of the greats. Including, one of my favourites:
I couldn’t settle in Italy. It was like living in a foreign country – Ian Rush
The best thing, I thought, was how welcoming the Dartford fans and staff were. There was no segregation and everyone was free to wander about, wherever they wanted. While security was clearly visible, it was a friendly presence. I particularly liked being able to change ends at half time. And the chat with the Dartford fans about team choices and awful players long since departed. There’s a nice piece about the ground here.
Sadly, the football didn’t quite live up to the experience.
The game had only been going for about five minutes when one of our players went down and ended up being stretchered off the pitch. Shortly after play resumed, we saw the ambulance racing to an A&E somewhere nearby. We’ve been plagued with injuries this season so, I guess, we shouldn’t really be surprised. Still, it’s not nice.
Then, a bit harshly we thought, our goalie was sent off and Dartford were awarded a penalty. It’s probably a good spot to mention the referee. Firstly, I thought she had a good game, though some around me were not convinced. Secondly, she is a ‘she’.
Her name is Amy Fearn and she’s a bit of a history maker. She was the first woman, ever, to referee an FA Cup match (2013), the first woman to referee a League match (2010) and is the only female referee in the Conference (our league). I reckon she’s very brave and a shining example of how gender has little to do with being a football official. Mind you, I really wonder why anyone, male or female, would referee a football match. They can never do anything right, cop abuse constantly (from players and fans) and spend the entire game running around making game changing decisions while trying to remain fair. I know I wouldn’t do it. Still, well done, Amy!
Regardless of Amy’s input, both teams didn’t play very well. It was all about hoofing the ball forward and hoping someone would connect with it. While this worked reasonably well for Dartford (it seems to be the way they play all the time) it’s not something that Aldershot is very good at. We need to play a passing game. That’s when we shine. Plus it makes for a more exciting game.
So, half time arrives and the score is 1-0 to them and we are down to 10 men. It didn’t look very promising as the second half started. And it was more of the same as the first half. Big kicks up field, loss of possession and many, many throw ins. Frankly, it was a bit boring.
Then, two minutes from full time, Brett Williams, 30 yards out, let fly with a ball that left their goalie no chance. As our manager said after the game, it was a bitter pill for Dartford to swallow.
So, yet another draw for the sometimes Mighty Shots. We need some wins or it’ll be down another league next season.
But, away from football and back to the building site.
Today saw the footings go in. A day of annoying showers, saw the three of them laying bricks along the trench, gradually building up the cavity wall to ground level.
By the time they’d finished and gone home for the day, the sun decided to make an appearance, as can be seen from this photo up the side.
And speaking of the weather…after lunch I took the poodles up to the park only to be caught in a number of rather strong showers. Fortunately, I had the sense to wear a rain coat.