Boy, am I glad that’s over! After making it look like a romp in the fields could be on, FC United of Manchester have put us through the wringer this last fortnight, but not last night (well, yes, last night, but when you win you forget all that, don’t you?). I made a last minute decision that I had to be there, scraped a couple of hours off work, and after a particularly twitchy Tuesday, broke for it to go to the match against Stourbridge.
This is likely to be the most parochial piece of advice I ever give on this blog, but if you have to get from Stockport Town Centre to Ashton, and you are under any sort of time constraint that is measured in less than years, do not for the life of you use the no. 7 bus. How I got there only two minutes after kick-off, I’ll never know after all those cramped back streets, diversions and second gear rambles.
There were more than 3,500 of us at the Tameside Stadium and let’s not pretend that this was a game of any sophistication. It was kick and run, long balls, high balls, throw yourself in at ninety miles an hour. FC got in sight of goal more often but couldn’t shoot straight, one looping header off the bar aside, and it took till the 68th minute to do it: long ball out to the top left corner, the cross back in, not cut out by the keeper and Greg Daniels bundling it into the net off everything.
That set up twenty-odd twitchy minutes, which could have been relieved if the referee had spotted the blatant handball five minutes from time and given the penalty, but it wasn’t needed. Champions then, automatic promotion after all those seasons of blowing it in the play-offs, goodbye Northern Premier League, hello Conference North, and the Football League is now in sight.
Since I had to get home on public transport, there was no time to stand and celebrate. The plan was to catch the Metro into Ashton (2 minutes ride) and a 3300 bus back to Stockport, but of course the Metro had gone, so it was round the triangle the long way, Metro to Manchester, bus home, arriving back a very long time after leaving for work.
Championes, Championes, are we are we are we.