Sunday, October 25, 2015

Up for the Cup

An autumn Saturday afternoon & the football fixture list conjures up an irresistible attraction on TOoT's very doorstep, a match between the locals Wrexham, with whom we go back rather a long way, &, no less, one of our very favourite other clubs, the mightily-named Gainsborough Trinity.
Now, this game happened to be, in reality, an FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round tie, with a place in the First Round of the competition proper the reward for the victors, but, over in the parallel football universe of 'The (Fictional) Football Alliance', it would be & indeed is, fact, a top flight fixture between two of the leading lights in our fictional, fantasy football league, a match that has, in recent seasons, produced some thrilling & significant results.
The opportunity to witness these two clubs in opposition, then, & for the sum of a mere £10 (plus another couple of quid for a matchday programme & subsequently the further similar cost of a half-time Bovril to keep out the seasonal chill), proved impossible to miss & thus we made our way to the Racecourse Ground: at this point, a certain nostalgia kicks in as it had been a little over 30 years since such a pilgrimage was last made (the last live match that had been attended was, in fact, one between York CityHartlepool United, another lower division classic, chanced-upon when visiting York late in August 1989 & the club's then Bootham Crescent ground proved to be at the bottom of Railway Terrace, in which the guest house being patronized was located).
The latter being the case, in the interests of introducing proper novelty into proceedings, the decision was taken to purchase a seat in the venerable old stadium's Mold Road Stand, a new structure since our previous attendances during the youthful football-going heyday of  the later-1970s - early '80s, & a fine spec it proved to be, the perfect spot from which to enjoy the experience of witnessing a match featuring Gainsborough Trinity: tremulousness prevailed as proceedings were anticipated & kick-off grew ever-nearer.

It proved to be a contest pretty free of much of the nonsense that infests the upper echelons of the game, in which Wrexham enjoyed by far the majority of possession & chances, all of which they spurned & failed to convert into goals, eventually allowing a well-organized & mostly solid Trinity to perform a classic act of smash-&-grab with a goal from the second of quickly-successive free-kicks approaching the Wrexham penalty area, & then, a few more desultory efforts from the home side later, that was that, the final score a 1-0 giant-killing win for Gainsborough & progress into the FA Cup proper which, to one not quite as partisan (or grumpy) as most of the home support, was rather gladdening & groovy to see. How wonderful it would be if we lived in a football world where the lovely old name of Gainsborough Trinity might actually stand a competitive chance of winning the trophy itself, although, by way of coincidence, they did in fact win the 'Football Alliance' Cup last season in addition to a runners-up spot in the League, which is, of course, just how it should be.

Back to the match & the experience of, as a one-off it was jolly pleasant, job done & good to be a part of a crowd of 1,870, of which, apparently, 170 intrepid travellers were from Gainsborough, enthusiastically supporting their club, to whom we must sportingly extend our congratulations & wishes for further progress in the FA Cup &, let's be honest, hopefully up the leagues in the near future - come on Trinity, & Wrexham too.

To close, here's a little for-posterity photo-essay on the afternoon's entertainment.

Choosing a seat in the Mold Road Stand, view of the pitch
with the teams warming-up, the Yale Stand opposite

Wrexham continue their warm-up

as do Gainsborough Trinity

Side view of the Mold Road Stand

The teams emerge into the autumn sunshine

Wrexham kick off

Second half: a throw-in to Gainsborough

Late in the match, at 0-1 in arrears, Wrexham are awarded
a free-kick in a dangerous position: it comes to nought.

Full-time, Gainsborough celebrate a famous
giant-killing 1-0 victory.
Boos and "Bloody rubbish, Wrexham" from the home supporters:
it was, mostly, ever thus.

No comments: