My quest for 100 games this season continues in earnest. I’m closing in on 75 now. As some of you will know I’ve been following the fortunes of Wealdstone for a couple of seasons and this season I’ve started going to some of their away matches. When I say away I mean Hendon and Leatherhead but I’ve ventured as far away as Billericay’s delightfully rural and rustic New Lodge ground.
But last saturday I almost decided to go Belgium before committing myself to the 130 miles to Lowestoft which is Britain’s most Easterly town. It’s a bit of trek for what is essentially 7th Division football but I think I lost my marbles a very long time ago so it’s very much a “close the gate after the horse has bolted” approach in trying to find them again. It was quite a nice drive to be honest. The A12 is a pretty much a dual carriageway all the way to Ipswich and the new Colchester stadium looked quite nice in the winter afternoon soon despite the slightly bland nature of it’s construction. Think Shrewsbury.
Lowestoft itself is as desolate as Grimsby and Cleethorpes put together. The epitomy of an isolated fishing town with a token fishing industry. Bird’s Eye still have a presence in the town and employ 700 people but it’s a town so many others in the UK that relied on certain industries which are in decline.
Still the Crown Meadow ground on Love Street is a well maintained and rather nice little ground. It’s open on 2 sides, has a small covered terrace at one end and a real old school 455 seater stand on one side. Apparently Lowestoft is of the UK’s driest places so the open-ness of the ground won’t matter so much.
855 people turned up to watch the game. Around 40 or so from Wealdstone who’d spent most of the afternoon in the boozer. When they came through the turnstiles a couple of ruddy faced, eyebrow cheeked, webfooted locals looked over at the new editions with suspicion. “Are they away fans?” said one. “I dunno” said the other before continuing with “I haven’t seen them here before, so they must be”. Off started the Banjo music in my head.
Lowestoft eventually won the game 2-1 after Wealdstone had gone one up before a poor second half performance cost them the game. A frustrating half which boiled over mid second half when a couple of quite posh looking Norwich City fans wearing Norwich City scarves made a couple of comments of “it’s only non league football, I don’t know why you bother coming to watch this shit”. From then on in the general level of banter deteriorated although the song of “Inbred til you die, you’re inbred til you die” made me laugh. It had the effect of making the locals very angry though. The inbred song, not my laughing at it.