It being a bank holiday Monday, there was football on today. The (not always but sometimes) Mighty Shots were due to travel to Torquay for their latest game. Nicktor fancied a day out, explaining to Dawn that he was only doing it for my sake. I had, after all, been stuck in the house with Emma all week and deserved a day out. Mirinda felt the same and so, at 9:30ish Nicktor arrived for the long drive down to the south west.
And long drive it was. There was, of course, the usual traffic jam along the Stonehenge section of the A303 though the traffic returning was worse and proved a portent for our return home. Anyway, after a single stop for coffee (me) and a pee (Nicktor) we continued on to the English Riviera.
I need to mention the weather. It rained all the way down, it stopped for the match then it rained for most of the way back. And that’s enough about the weather.
Alongside the football ground at Torquay is a bar/restaurant which welcomes anyone, as long as you’re accompanied by an adult, and, rather than walking to a pub in the rain, we decided to eat and drink there. It’s called the Boots and Laces and made a lovely start to our day of football.
Almost 300 fans made the journey and a lot of them were in the Boots and Laces. One group had travelled down the day before and had spent the night singing Karaoke (some were still singing Sweet Caroline) and drinking too much. One of the group was looking very woeful, spending most of the time with his head planted firmly on the table while his food remained uneaten. He did perk up a bit during the football but while he was in the pub, he looked decidedly seedy. He’s the one on the far left of the photo below.
But very soon, kick off started to loom so we left the bar and headed round to the visitors’ entrance which is as far from the bar as you can get.
At the entrance, everyone was being frisked and bags were being searched. They have a ban of camera photography at this ground. This totally annoyed Nicktor who had lugged his big lens all the way down just so he could knock off a few thousand images of his beloved Aldershot.
While being searched and banned was bad, at least the security guards were pleasant about it. And they didn’t confiscate any cameras, they just told us we couldn’t use them. As a parting shot, we were told we could use our phones. How bizarre. Mind you, it would be quite difficult to stop people using their phones!
This aside, the ground is very nice and all covered. The stewards and police were all very pleasant and even the hotdog at half time was tasty.
And so, the game. It was all a bit even for most of the match. It was entertaining enough but neither side could manage to finish anything and there were stray passes by the bucket load. The ref had a good game as did the linesmen.
Torquay scored in the first half but, mainly, because our goalie was asleep. Having let the ball wander aimlessly across the goal line, he immediately went and moaned at his defenders. But we all knew. We were standing directly behind him and watched in horror as Torquay went one up.
In the second half, it was pretty much the same with both teams giving as good as they received but without any success. And then, during a ten minute period when the Shots proved they could still be Mighty in short bursts, we equalised with a sweet little move that carved up the opposition and left their goalie in despair.
Speaking of their goalie…there’s a chant that goes up when the opposition goalie takes a goal kick. It starts off as a low moan, gaining in volume as he approaches the ball. As he kicks the ball, the moan changes to a chorus of “You’re shit! Ahhhhh!” This is my favourite chant and always makes me smile.
Today, however, there was an added level of humour. The Torquay goalie’s surname was Rice – it was on the back of his shirt – and some wit in the crowd added his own bit to the chant.
Rice placed the ball, he stepped back, the moan started. Rice moved forward, approaching the ball and the moan increased. He kicked it high and long and the cry went up “You’re shit! Ahhhhhhh!” then silence. Suddenly a small voice squeaked out from the Shots fans. “And a pudding!” Silence returned and then, suddenly, a few of us ‘got it’ and started laughing.
It was a slow burner of a joke but soon nearly everyone was chuckling at this accidental hilarity. Nicktor asked me why it was funny. I pointed out the goalie’s surname and he joined in with the chorus of chuckles. There were further attempts at making light of poor Rice’s name but nothing reached the heady heights of the original. I don’t know who said it but I take my hat off to him.
Anyway, the score remained 1-1, which was a pretty fair result as both teams were pretty equal on the pitch.
But it would be remiss of me not to mention the pigeon. It was busy pecking away at the pitch just to the right of the goalie for most of the first half. It was odd to realise that the ball only disturbed it once and that was because it was deliberately aimed for. The pigeon just flew up and avoided it.
At the beginning of the second half, it appeared that the pigeon had flown home but then, after about five minutes, it returned, just outside the box. It stayed there for almost the whole game happily pecking away at something enticing. A little while before the ref blew the whistle for full time, the pigeon flew off, I assume to miss the traffic on the way home.
The Torquay mascot is a sea gull but I reckon they should change it to the Pigeons in honour of this steadfast little bird.
As we left the ground, not elated but far from despondent, I managed to snap a photo from across the road, looking into the ground. I poked my tongue out at them!
The drive home was fine until we reached the approach to Stonehenge. We sat for 90 minutes, rain falling and cars snarling in a ridiculously long traffic jam. Not the best end to a day. Still, at least it didn’t rain during the game and we didn’t drop a point. That’s got to be a good thing.