Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Droylsden 2 Chesterfield 1

FA Cup, Second Round replay
Attendance: 2,824

“It’s the same programme as last week,” said the old man who sold me one. “That’s OK,” I said. “I’m a new boy”. It felt like that. This has been an epic cup-tie. A quick re-cap for those who haven’t been paying attention. Match 1 at Chesterfield: abandoned because of fog with Droylsden 1-0 up. Droylsden not happy. Match 2: Re-match ends 2-2 with a controversial goal. A Droylsden player is injured so the ball is kicked into touch but then Jack Lester of Chesterfield (more of him later) scores from the throw-in. Whoops. Chesterfield allow Droylsden to score without resistance. Match 3 at Droylsden: replay abandoned because of floodlight failure with Chesterfield 2-0 up. Recriminations and conspiracy theories ensue. Match 4: All back to the Butcher’s Arms …

Great name for a ground even though the said pub is no more of a landmark that many other groundside hostelries. More eye-catching is a new office block incongruously sited on the other side of the main stand (see top pic). Executive boxes – formed by arranging chairs behind the first floor windows – presumably come with the tenancy.

Droylsden opened the scoring with the first real chance for either side. Sean Newton (pictured right) weaved through challenges on the edge of the box before unleashing a drive into the bottom right corner. Cue manic bundle in front of the home dugout. Chesterfield levelled with a freak goal (here we again, we all thought) when a clearance by the Droylsden keeper cannoned back into the net off the backside of, who else, that man Lester. How he loved running in front of the home fans, hand cupped to his ear.

He should’ve had a penalty at the start of the second half (Chesterfield’s second sound claim of the evening). Soon after at the other end, a Droylsden striker was pulled down from behind and Newton converted the spot kick. Chesterfield thought they’d equalised again but, when the melĂ©e cleared, it appeared the goalie had saved and there was similar fogginess at the far end (but without fog this time) when Lester was sent-off apparently for elbowing an opponent. With the pantomime villain finally slain the Bloods started to believe they would live happily ever after.
The final whistle triggered a pitch invasion. Remarkably, this was my third invasion in as many cup ties. When I next go to an ordinary match I must remember to leave the way I came in. The Droylsden hoodies (no Santa hats here) raced straight past the players and over to where the Chesterfield fans were housed to bait them which says a lot about where we were, both in terms of stage of the competition and location (a 'town' buried in the eastern suburbs of Manchester). Bit sad, really. The police and stewards prevented an attack, though. Four lads instead concluded their evening’s entertainment by playing a rave version of Jingle Bells in their souped up hatchback at full volume with the windows down as they cruised away down Market Street.

It had been a slightly edgy experience all round. Earlier, I’d been terrified of treading on someone’s toe and getting an elbow in the face as nephew Toby (pictured below) and I squeezed back to the covered terrace after a trip to the pie stand. The bouncing bonhomie of the Badger Boys when the second round started nearly a month ago seemed a long way away.
So The Bloods (good nickname too) made it safely through to the third round for the first time ever and we made it safely back to North Yorkshire. A good result for all – and another cup shock to savour. I’ve been so spoilt this season.

Epilogue: Astonishingly, that wasn’t the final chapter in the saga. Droylsden were thrown out of the competition six days later for fielding a banned player, Newton. They could hardly argue he hadn't affected the contest and I don't think another re-match would've gone down too well. Droylsden manager Dave Pace's post-match comments about the Chesterfield manager now makes for wincing reading: "As far as I'm concerned, it's now war between me and him. I've never wanted to win a game as much in my life as I do tonight's."Pace also claimed he'd throw himself of a bridge if Droylsden were expelled. A tie that had more ins and outs than the okey-kokey at office Christmas party ends up as a pub quiz question: Which club played nine FA Cup matches in one season without defeat but didn’t win the competition? As for Chesterfield they went out 3-0 to Ipswich in the next round.
For more pics click here.