Clive discusses his trip to Hampshire
You could view Saturday’s result as a point secured or two points frittered, but it was a glass pretty full sort of day on the rails to Aldershot.
After a spot of leaf chewing at Torre I joined my companions on the rattler up to Exeter. We noticed that the new Marsh Barton station is all-but complete and hopefully it will soon be followed by the planned one at Edginswell.
We hopped onto the Waterloo train and set off for Aldershot the slow and comfortable way via the likes of Whimple, Honiton, Templecombe and all single track points east.
A change of trains in Woking gave an opportunity for a quick blast of the Ben Gerring song, and we arrived in Aldershot just before one o’clock. First call for me was a hole in the wall to get some cash to pay Andy for the train tickets, and I then managed to walk past our intended first pit stop, The George. After a lovely little lonesome wander up the town and a phone call to Ethan, who patiently navigated me back where I needed to be, we shared a couple of pints and a laugh in the cheerful, sticky carpeted boozer where all are welcome.
Then it was time for a rendezvous with other like-minded Yellows at The Crimea, a pub literally across the road from The Recreation Ground, which we have somehow failed to spot on any of our previous trips to Hampshire.
Simply put, it’s a cracking, friendly pub where any Torquay fan worth knowing had gravitated. To name just three, it was lovely to chat to the legend that is Jules Nixon, the ever cheerful Alan Wills and a chap named Charlie Baker.
Charlie is a proper bloke who wears his mantle as The Most Famous Torquay Fan very lightly. He is a worthy successor to the previous two title holders, Peter Cook and Helen Chamberlain. It’s lovely when people are as friendly and funny in real life as they are on stage and his quick Roger or Brian take on new signing Kevin Dawson? (“More Rubbish Johnson!”) was a belter.
So up the hill and through the park we went, heading for the away end. I love Aldershot’s ground. It is undeniably ancient and ramshackle but so am I. It’s a marriage made in heaven. Having the home team’s noisiest fans under the same roof creates a good atmosphere even on the most mundane afternoons and Saturday was no exception.
The teams traded quick goals early on. We allowed a simple near post header but reacted very positively, with the much maligned (by me, at least) Brett McGavin supplying a calm finish to a lovely move.
The joy of our equaliser was partly spoilt by unnecessary interventions by the boys in blue, who had been strutting around all afternoon shadowing the away support and taking youngsters who caught their eye out the back for a quick photo. I believe this is unnecessary and antagonistic. I asked one of them what they thought they were doing. I gave my opinion that there was no danger if trouble. He didn’t appreciate this and he asked me: ‘How do you know there won’t be any trouble?” I said that I had been in and around it all afternoon and had seen hooliganism trouble at Torquay games over about 30 years. It wasn’t a meeting of minds. He toddled off, and I went for a pee. The toilets are now under the main stand, and walking boots were very much required because my chosen cubicle had an inch of water lapping the walls. I hope it was water anyway!
Neither team was good enough to get a winner, but I enjoyed my second half up by the Drumming and Bouncing section of our support. Every credit to them. Teens or early twenties at the oldest, girls and boys, they never stopped. It was loud, it was raucous- supporting a club none of them will have seen have any real success- and it is great to see. If the Constabulary don’t like it then frankly they can shove it up their Alison Hernandez.
Final whistle. Time for some corner shopping and journey planning. Tins on the platform and a point to be celebrated.
It was standing room only from Woking to Basingstoke but as the punters thinned out we were contemplating a tricky return trip. It looked as though our immediate futures lay in Westbury, and we soon discovered that the only way to get there was via rail replacement bus to Warminster. But as we were pondering a near-Longleat experience, exciting rumours started to circulate. Thrillingly, it appeared that there was a direct train to Exeter after all!
We celebrated with the traditional swift pint at Salisbury. I refused a very polite request from a Dorset lass who had spent a refreshing day in Southampton to buy her a drink, and instead watched the fruit machine, where Kyle and Dan were losing money quicker than Kwasi Kwarteng on a roulette table. Good lads. They both play cricket at Stoke Gabriel, where the summers are long and the cider is sweet. I think they may have spent time trying to tap me up to umpire down there, which should give heart to partially sighted piss heads everywhere!
We bevvied our way back down to St David’s and rounded off a cheery evening with more beer and- shockingly for the arteries- a fine kebab.
We love you, we love you, we love you, and everywhere we follow, we follow, we follow, cos we support the Torquay and that’s the way we like it!
One thought on “TT GROUNDHOPPING – Aldershot Town (A) by Clive Hayward”
love stories about true fans on a trouble-free journey. I remember being at Bradford about 25 years ago with a few younger fans chanting away, nothing rude or obscene and a steward asked them to quieten down, I asked him his number and name and told him I wanted his supervisor, he moved himself and avoided any further ill-feeling. Loved the whole day tale, well done all Gulls fans on a super turn out.
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