Thursday, 18 August 2011
Reflections On The First Day Of The Season: Part 1
It's taken us almost a week to respond to the fact that the season is now up and running but we've woken up from our slumber. Adam Bushby gives his thoughts on a stolen afternoon in Kent.
I remember the date vividly. Probably because it was less than a week ago and my short-term memory is pretty much fit for purpose. August 13. And I can tell you exactly where I was. I was stood towards the corner flag, in the away end of the Stonebridge Road ground eating a burger. I heard a booming Yorkshire voice, spliced with bile bellow: “And you can take your fucking chewing gum out an all linesman. Take your fucking gum out and start doing your fucking job.” After I heard this abuse, I smiled. ‘Why is this bloke so bothered about the linesman’s chewing gum?’, I pondered. I was watching York City v Ebbsfleet in the Blue Square Premier League, it was 15 minutes in, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. A new season has started. And I’m hooked.
Expectations at York are through the roof already this season after we recorded back to back wins in our opening two games for the first time since, I presume, ever. It really hasn’t been easy being a York fan in recent times, considering that the club almost went out of existence as recently as 2003 after being presided over by a pair of evil cunts straight out of a Marvel comic: first Douglas Craig; and then John Bachelor. But this isn’t a potted history lesson of one of the Conference’s bigger teams. What I wish to convey is that by eschewing the glamour of the Premier League every now and then, paying at the turnstiles (remember them?) and turning up at some tinpot ground in Kent, I felt like a modern day Yorkshire Don Quixote, embarking on another adventure that had the very real threat of ending in farce, tragedy, or most likely both.
I can only make a laboured apple/onion analogy to reinforce the point. Being a lower/non league fan is exactly like being handed a blindfold before you go into the apple/onion store and being forced to do your shopping in blissful ignorance. At the end of the day, only a handful of people are going to end up with a basket overwhelmingly full with apples. Some will have more onions, some will have less. But one thing is sure: you are going to get onions.
For me, everything is so much more vivid at a lower/non-league ground, although I appreciate I fancy myself as an aesthete. The tiny shack doubling up as a pisser. The little burger van, which I have to say was nothing short of superb at Ebbsfleet, genuinely. The tiny female steward who looked like Ronnie Corbett with a tache repeatedly telling the same bloke off for standing in an area not allocated for standing. And then there’s the action on the pitch itself. This season, we, as York fans, stand wholly likely to be subjected to some of the best football we’ve seen in years, judging by Saturday’s offering. It was with dizzying pleasure (for once) that the words “fucking hell” passed my lips when our new Portuguese winger Adriano Moke beat three men, for the umpteenth time. And then there was Jason Walker’s lovely little header for an injury-time winner that sent the 400 of us who’d made the trip to the arse end of nowhere mental. A worthwhile pilgrimage; this was our Mecca.
And the thing is, I know I’m not alone. I know that for every Patrick McLaughlin, Ashley Chambers and Matty Blair, there is someone going mental at an Adam Le Fondre goal, or a mistimed Lee Hughes tackle or an easy chance missed by Richard Cresswell. We’re all in this together, watching in the main, average football, in crumbling grounds with real character and no-one in Kuala Lumpur is going out and buying a Port Vale replica shirt.
I’ll tell anyone who’ll listen to jump on York to win the Conference this season. I’ve seen their odds plummet from 16/1 to 15/2 in the space of a fortnight and I’m worried I’m getting a little carried away. But you know what, if Rob’s beloved Macclesfield Town can score a goal like this, then really, anything can happen. Here’s to blind hope. Long may it continue.