Clive Hayward – @Byehorse
Clive reflects on his day out in Somerset
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.
In football, as in life, perception is everything. You can go with your head or you can listen to your heart. If your glass is half empty National League football can be a horrible place. But with a half full vessel it can still give us memories that will last a lifetime.
I started the festive season with no intention of going to Eastleigh or Yeovil. What on earth was the point? We’re on the rebound from play-off hell, and longish drives to drab venues where we would start games second favourite held little appeal.
But Weymouth was fun, wasn’t it? In truth, I needed less encouragement to get behind the wheel than I might have let on. As it turned out, Eastleigh was a blast. We bounced their stand to the verge of destruction and saw a sublime Armani goal. Matty and I sang his name all afternoon and most of the way home too.
The omens for Yeovil weren’t great. Memories of “that” Boxing Day battering in 2019 are still raw. Suspension for Armani and isolation for Sparkes meant we looked much weaker than we had been for the 3-0 win this Boxing Day. With rain in the forecast and traffic quite heavy the trek over the Blackdown Hills was tedious, although “Best Dance Tunes of 1998” lifted our mood. By the time we arrived we had had “A Brimful of Asha”, although we still haven’t quite worked out “What she’s gonna look like with a chimney on her” The Tamperer Feat. Maya – Feel It 1998 HQ – Bing video
It was wonderful and a privilege to be part of United’s four figure away support. We got in at about 2.30 and the atmosphere was great. Songs old and new were bellowed. Inflatable guitars were flung. A flying bog roll made a fleeting appearance and the bouncing was again of a high standard. A wayward shot during the warm-up hit an arriving Yellow in his gentleman’s area. He was last heard being encouraged not to hold them but count them, and pleading with a first aider to “take away the pain but leave the swelling”.
Early rain disappeared and on debut the diminutive Joe Felix ran around with gusto. Despite being shorter than Matt Hancock’s Christmas Card List he rose unchallenged to head the best chance of the first half wide.
Despite being described in a “Gloverscast” report as “lumbering”, Danny Wright still earns his money leading our line. He would have been disappointed with his header early in the second half – missing the target when a less firm contact would surely have found the top corner. His afternoon went from bad to worse when he gave the ball away on 66 minutes, leading to Yeovil finding our top corner with what can only be described as a gut-wrenching, match-winning screamer from Jordan Barnett.
It hadn’t been a classic match (let’s be honest, how often can we say it is?), but some three-dimensional GJ chess set us up to win a game that had looked forlorn. Three substitutions and some back four musical chairs meant we were able to overcome the loss of the Trojan Dean Moxey and attacked the last 15 minutes with 3 (three) strikers: Wrighty, the irrepressible Sinclair Armstrong and, er, Dan Holman.
Just for a change, we had it all our own way as darkness gathered and the rain got its act together. Sinclair had a goal chalked off by a tight offside decision and saw a good chance smothered. But then it flipped. The Lemon employed some Welsh Wizardry to swerve a corner past the Yeovil keeper and straight in. With time running out, he got his wand out again and scooped the ball into Holman’s path. One touch and a precision finish into the side netting sent the away end into ecstasy. There were “limbs”. There were screams of joy and there was a general charge down the steps and over to the corner where the players were celebrating with the unlikely hero of the hour.
Finally, Dan had shown us why he decided to rip up his pension book last Summer. What a finish it was. Even if it turns out to be a flash in the pan, he’s created a special memory.
Walking (or floating really) back to the car, I reflected that these are the afternoons we dream of. It doesn’t matter that it was a drab game in a thus-far disappointing season for both teams. Those two goals changed everything. Both fanbases hope and believe that their clubs are better than where they find themselves, and we don’t like losing. This meant a lot. It was up there with that late play-off winner at Exeter: outnumbered but seldom outsung!
The following afternoon I was out for a walk between Teignmouth and Dawlish, headphones on. So sad am I, and such was my joy at Sunday’s events, that my aural pleasure was the downloaded Radio Devon commentary: seldom have Dave Thomas’ tones sounded so dulcet. A rare treat for my elderly ears!
COYY – Clive
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