Chester Away Day (Diary)

Last updated : 29 January 2007 By Editor
After spending the best part of last year saving for the Ashes trip, my away jaunts had staggered (sorry about the pun) to probably one every two months. Now the trip down under is well out of the way, it is back to the ridiculous and rather stupid leaving times for any Stags away game.

If you need no further fine example, then for the Hereford match recently, we travelled down early on the train on the Saturday morning, finally arriving back in the delights of Mansfield on the following day, deciding that a stop over in Birmingham would have been too much of a stupid idea to pass over.

For this game though, we had booked on a mini bus excursion half way through the week, however come the Thursday this was out of the window due to high costs. This left about 6 of us with no travel to Chester, and wanting to make a day of it (who wouldn't?) we looked at the train option. The normal route is to leave from Cheaterfield (booo!) and head to Stockport before heading back down to Chester, but at a draw dropping £28.50 return we thought there must be another way. Several hits on the internet later found a more cheaper alternative route, although it would contain a couple of changes en route.

Wanting to be in Chester early enough to sample of couple of the local brews, it was an early start of 7 o clock from leaving ones house of residence, ready to catch the half past 7 train from Mansfield that would take us onto Nottingham. Things didn't go quite according to plan as we promptly missed said train due to a couple of late arrivals of the touring party. One hasty £25 taxi ride later though and we were back on schedule, in fact so much so that the greasy spoon café we had vouched never to revisit following an unfortunate dining experience a couple of years ago, got another visit and once again we weren't disappointed to find out lard sales in the Nottingham area continue to rise. Still with stomach now fully laden with grease, it was time to visit Mr Booze's establishment at the change over in Derby for some ‘tinnies' for the long haul ahead.

Despite it only being 9 o clock in the morning, we still attracted attention of a chap from Bristol, a Rovers fan up for their cup game in Derby. Still clearly pissed from the night before, he proceeded to tell us he'd travelled up the day before but had forgotten to pack any clothes or indeed bring his wallet with him. This then made his following story of going clubbing (in trainers) and not having anywhere to sleep a little hard to follow. Still he was friendly enough and we wished him well on his day ahead, and he did like wise.

The journey into Crewe took just over an hour and a half, but seemed to be much quicker, although having to clear up a full can of beer that I had mistook for being empty, probably helped somewhat. It is fair to say that whenever we do create a mess, we always tend to clean up behind us, such has been our immaculate upbringing.

We had a quick change over at Crewe, into then what was then a quick 20 minute ride into Chester itself, it is perhaps at this point (rather later than I should have done) but tell all that this journey to Crewe and Back cost us all the measly sum of just ten earth English pounds.

As with all our train trips away, the normal first port of call is the pub nearest to the train station, this was of course no different today. As luck would also happen to be on our side, it was only January Sales as well, £1.49 if you please for the price of one of your local lagers, of course we were reluctant to take advantage of such offers, but we managed to talk ourselves into it for an hour or two.

We only had time to call at two more like for like liquid selling places before a taxi ride up to the game, arriving just in time for Kick Off.

Chester's ground if you haven't been before is at the top end of an industrial estate, with just one road leading in, and the same amount of tarmac leading out. Should Chester ever get a regular large crowd going, then it would be a couple of hours at least trying to get out of the place.

The local Chav boys took up a position right next to the away support, and despite only numbering about 15, the local police soon sent them home to their mummies.

We took our position up inside the away end, just to the left of the goal, and it was some disappointment that as a spectacle the match was over after just ten minutes. Conlons sending off for an ‘alleged' kick or elbow (we couldn't see the incident!) looked to be harsh, surely a booking at most. Why do referees see fit to ruin a game with needless sendings off. When you've travelled all morning spending countless amounts of money, the least you expect is a half decent game of football. Perhaps sin bins should be considered, but with the record of getting anything changed in football virtually none existent, then we shouldn't hold our breath.

The Stags were never going to pour forward now, and the focus for the visiting support, was now how long could the Stags hold out for, in the hope of getting a lucky break from a set piece.

It was a free kick that brought about the goal, you can read the match report elsewhere so I shan't bore you all again with the details, but once everyone had calmed down from the excitement of the goal, it was time to sample the local food, and a plastic hot dog, accompanied by a melting yorkie bar. It might just be me, but I'm surprised no one has ever thought of serving hot dogs warm at football grounds, cold ones fill a hole but I get the feeling that it would be better served hot.

As the game wore on, it was almost inevitable that Chester would get at least an equalizer, so much was their possession, but you just hoped that the Stags would hold out. At least a point was one gained we all thought as the match came to a close.

The train back was expected to be the half past 5 one, but given the enormous amount of time taken to get back down the road from the ground, this was never going to be. We managed to get a couple of taxi's back to the station, but we then decided on the half six train back to civilization.

During the time spent in the cheap as chips bar, we were approached by a gentleman who asked how many ‘boys' we had brought, before hinting at the fact that should there have been more of his ‘mates' in the pub, then we might have been on for a ruck. What is wrong with just wanting to go to a football match, then a pint afterwards, which was our intention during the day, for gods sake. Is it really too much to ask?

After being in Australia for the best part of three weeks, and receiving nothing but friendly welcomes wherever we went by the locals, and the English cricketing public, this approach by the local numbskulls is quite frankly boring and pathetic. Over there you walk in a bar and they buy you drinks and have a chat with you, over here you venture from your local area and people want to fight you, enough said.

Luckily all the connections were met with ease on the way back, some Notts Forest ‘boys' got on the train at Uttoxeter, having been to the races, they took delight in reminding us that they had won two European cups sometime in the 50's I think, yawn bloody yawn! It was with great pleasure to hear Ian Wright on the BBC on Sunday describing them as a ‘lower league side', oh how I laughed.

With a quick pint in the Bentnick on return to Notts, where Bristol Rover supporters had gathered for a night out (Derby can't be that much of a night out if you go back to Shottingham!), a quick chat with them then home to Mansfield by another taxi ride. I suppose with 5 of you in it, it makes it cheaper at a 5 quid a man a go.

The day just had to be completed by heading into town for an hour, that quickly turned into two, then three, etc, finally arriving on a friends floor about 3 o clock. Oh how good to have the good times back, roll on Stockport, early start anyone ?