Godalming Town 0 Barton Rovers 2 (13th Dec 2014)
“Two old farts, please” said the guy at the turnstile, considering reduced admission a fair trade off for this less dignified description on his (and companion’s) advancing years. My own trade off was going to this game in Godalming, when I had planned to be 30 miles away in Carshalton. A treacle-like M3 put a paid to that, and even veering away from the jam, it still took one and a half hours to crawl the 20 miles to Godalming’s home.
At least the bar was welcoming. OK, I’d just come back from a couple of weeks in Thailand, where the bars are staffed by a suspiciously large number of waitresses incredibly eager to get you inside, and it wasn’t quite that welcoming, but I’ll happily settle for a pretty barmaid trying to draw a snowman in my Guinness.
A little Thai heat wouldn’t have gone amiss either, on an afternoon that would see visible signs of frost forming around the ground, not long after the sun had gone down.
By strange coincidence, my first “ground-hop” game after coming back from a previous trip to Thailand also involved Barton Rovers. On that day they lost 3-5 at St Neots, in an action-packed match. This game would be about as different as they come. Barton Rovers would win, there’d be six fewer goals, and almost immeasurably less excitement.
Some small boys probably had the best idea. They played football on the small terrace behind the southern goal, set back and raised a couple of steps, like a stage at a small pub. An advert for a local scaffolding firm was beside this small terrace, but the scaffolding that held up the roof didn’t exactly look a selling point for them, presuming it was their handiwork. The railings at either side looked like there must be a Godalming resident somewhere mystified as to who stole the fence to their front garden.
The other end was the typical covered end at this level, all poles and corrugated sheeting, hiding a training pitch behind.
One side was an open terrace, with the grass banking just enough to give a view, but not a great one. Opposite, the open terracing on that side would drop away, and a small covered stand did its best to fill the void. Eight rows of shallow bench seats were covered by a deep roof. The club’s name picked out in yellow and green along the fascia, and the dark green steelwork, added a bit of welcome colour.
Other than that though, it was a day of cold fans, probably thinking more of which tea bar refreshments will keep them most warm than of the game, and the obligatory non-league ground dog, happily oblivious to the football match that seemed to be doing its damndest to not happen on the field.
I think the first half only had two proper shots, and one of those was a long-range free kick. The other was a goal for the visitors, out of the blue, showing a rare bit of control to turn a shot in at the near post.
The second half got no better, and nor did the temperature. Looking at your watch and thinking “how long to go?” and noticing it’s 4.07 is not a good sign.
Barton Rovers had already made it 2-0, with another good (and totally out of character for the game) finish before Godalming had their first chance they wouldn’t be embarrassed to describe as such. It didn’t exactly spark a revival. They probably had one more good chance, with a shot/cross across goal that nobody could finish, and that was about it. Frustrated fans, and one or two players, decided to have a go at the officials instead, but I’ve been to few games where getting back inside in the warm seemed to be a higher priority.
All a bit of a shame really, as it was as a friendly little place. Given that this was Godalming’s seventh home game in a row without a win, they deserved something to warm the soul, even if, as on this day, they were chilled to the bone.