In the strange masochistic way of the away fan I was really looking forward to the long northern away trip again. Brian Mathew wasn't even up when I first set off to collect the first of my three travelling companions, so it must have been earlier than ever. The chosen route meant enduring the horror that is the A1, complete with the ever present "junction improvements" at virtually every roundabout, so an earlier than usual start was necessary. Given that I had two more passengers than usual I had a minion polish the wooden panels on Morris's sides to reduce the drag factor.
After a quick chat with Sparky I collected BillB and set off for the Brampton Hut Service area on the A14 to collect the balance of the group. Our first encounter with this "service" area was, unbeknown to us at the time, a portent of the rest of the day. After a couple of hours in the car we needed a refreshing cup of coffee so we headed for the restaurant attached to the Premier Inn on the site. It was exactly and we were informed that they were unable to serve us coffee because they closed between 10.00 and 11.00 for "cleaning down", even though there were two almost full pots of steaming hot coffee not three yards away from us. So it was that we had to settle for a hot black liquid erroneously described as coffee - albeit "Wild Bean" - at the BP garage while we waited for Cambs and Gibbo. For our next trip up to Farsley I think we will be meeting elsewhere - if we want any sort of refreshment that is.
Having collected the "Cambridgeshire Two" we made good time to York. It was imperative that we got there on time; the very broadcast from Southern Counties depended on the reliability of Morris. The polishing of the timber was definitely working as we quickly ate up the miles. To pass the time the back seat passengers decided to try the Sun monster crossword and it was a surprise how difficult some of the clues were. The general consensus was that your average Sun reader would have given up by 5 across! One of the clues involved a Liverpool legend and from that we discovered that one of their old players from the sixties - Alf Arrowsmith - started a rock band after he retired. Well, it was funny at the time!
Arriving in good time in the back streets of the scrag end of the beautiful city of York, we availed ourselves of the hospitality in the social club. We thought our luck was in when we spotted the chairman at the bar as we entered, but there were two too many of us for him to be able to buy us a drink. We understand, Mr Chairman, times are hard after all! We made up for it by buying a ticket each on the "card" being touted round the bar - and winning it. Unfortunately it was my round so the winnings went straight back behind the bar! This was the pinnacle of York's hospitality, because the horror of the away end awaited us.
Having queued at the only turnstile, paid £14 to stand and been frisked upon entry we emerged onto the concrete wasteland that passes for the away end at the mighty Kit Kat Crescent. Given that the social club didn't do food we headed straight for the ubiquitous snack bar. Yet again, but earlier even than the debacle at Salisbury, we found they were almost out of all hot food. All that was left was a choice of something the young lady behind the metal security grill called "pars" - no chips, no mushy peas, no gravy. This was such a disappointment, given the so called stature of this jewel of the north. Translated, this actually meant pies and the choice was from meat and potato, steak and kidney and chicken balti. I plumped for the meat and potato par and a cup of Bovril. The pie was the size of a small cake and the Bovril was in one of those pre-made cups where you just add (almost) hot water. It was slightly surprising to get almost no change from £4 then! I don't know where he got them from but a certain Bob from Bagshot did have some chips but chose to share them with PC Parrish rather than anyone else. Creep!
Having pressed the flesh of those Strays we always look forward to meeting at such away trips (and some regulars from the Rec), we settled down to watch the match. The less said the better about the display our lads put on - trust in Gary is all we can say. It must be especially disappointing for those northern strays to look forward to seeing the boys live, only to be brought down to earth by such a performance. Still, we'll be back in a couple of weeks and they can see us demolish Parsley Felt Tips.
After the final whistle put us out of our agony, we encountered one of the more bizarre policing policies we have yet seen. We were held at a cordon while the York supporters were given the chance to assemble at a similar cordon at the other end of the street. The Shots contingent consisted of a few of us geriatrics, a couple of players' girlfriends and parents and a few kids. The York contingent consisted of about 250 various types. At a given signal both cordons were lifted and we headed straight for each other. Of course, there was no trouble - the York fans were too happy and we were too old, but we never did work out what the policy was supposed to achieve. Perhaps it was dress rehearsal for something - who knows?
Back in the warmth of the social club we waited for our BBC correspondent to do his duties before setting off down south. While waiting we almost took delivery of the pizzas for the team bus - perhaps we should have after the famine we had endured all day. We were, however, beaten to it by Bully and Ricky, so we had to make do with nothing again. To their credit, the York fans in the club didn't gloat over our misery - they tried to make us feel better by saying York had played particularly well, but it didn't really help - thanks for the thought though!
And so it was with a general fed up feeling that we left behind York and its delights and pointed south to face that damn road again. Did we have a lovely day the day we went to York? Despite the excellent company and the usual meeting of old exiled friends which normally takes preference over everything else, I'm sorry to say that the disappointing general lack of hospitality to away fans at York in general means today's trip gets a definite NO - we didn't!