With a victory over Doncaster Rovers already in the bag, a trip to traditional old league club Preston North End and then famous Tranmere Rovers up next at the Broadfield, Crawley Town fans are having it good! Who’d have dreamed it? A beauty of a morning greeted around 80 CTSA members as they boarded 2 Clarkes of London coaches at 7.30am yesterday morning. Destination Preston. Travel Ken looked after coach 1 with chairman Paul looking after coach 2.
By 9.30am we were half way up the M40 en route to Warwick Services for a pit stop. On coach 2 John Barnett of Horley was making his first ever Crawley away trip and was lucky enough to win £20 in the football scratch card game. He said, “that’s brilliant- aren’t I a lucky bar steward!?” John is one of the new breed of Reds fans, taking up the half season deal last term. He is now a West Stand season ticket holder and is clearly enjoying following his local team. He said, “the season is going great and we have won quite a few matches already; Richie has the team playing the ball on the ground leading to some attractive football.”’ He added, “I was gutted last Sunday afternoon after losing to Portsmouth, we played extremely well on the day but the sending’s off proved to be the pivotal points of the match.” He went on, “I am really looking forward to the Deepdale experience this afternoon, they have found a bit of form of late but I think we can hold our own for a solid draw and perhaps secure a sneaky win!”
Leaving my nephew George (12) under the protection of Paul (no, I hadn’t taken leave of my senses, Paul had Matt and Ian looking after him!) I joined coach 1 for the remainder of the trip north. Ken whacked on the musical, Mamma Mia to much derision from the blokes. He said, with a glint in his eye, “I have to look after my harem of ladies.” To which there was a suggestion from the back, “perhaps the ladies should have their own coach!” To a chorus of “fix” CTSA’s own Chris Chesire won the scratch card draw, whilst Wiggy looked stunned by the musical offering and cried gently into his wig for the remainder of the journey.
We arrived in Preston around 1.30pm and George and I met up with a colleague from work- and long term North End fan- John Breakell. He had travelled up from London by train but found time to take us on a guided tour of the ground and explained at one point, “that is the old Museum of football, it has recently been transferred to Manchester and the locals aren’t very happy about it.” Who can blame them. He then showed us the stunning Tom Finney statue. He said, “Tom is a local hero and is worshipped in these parts. He is getting on a bit now but up until last season he would come to every home match.”
The mood amongst Town fans pre match was one of caution. CTSA regular Keith Lawless summed it up nicely by suggesting, “I think we are in for an uncomfortable afternoon”. Deepdale is a lovely 24000 all seater stadium which has seen a lot of development over the past decade. Town fans were housed in the famous Bill Shankly Kop and whilst a healthy number made the trip there was plenty of space to move around. That can be said of the home areas as well as only 9000 odd were in attendance. In reality their ground is too big for them.
Overzealous stewards confiscated Ross’s drum for the goalless first half which seemed a bit daft. Quite bizarrely, the drum made reappearance during the break and Ross wasted no time in beating to order. During a loud and continuous 20 min stint of drumming Gary Alexander helped himself to a brace of stunning goals to total delirium in the away pen. Then, the drum was taken away again. I asked the chief steward what was going on and he said, “I can’t answer that, you will have to ring the club on Monday to find out. Well I know what I think- see the headline! After a late scare Town professionally held on for another wonderful away victory and everyone filed back to the coaches.
Coach Two was rocking all the way down the M6 and M40. During the 1st section a quick peek at the programme (page 23) revealed that our own travel legend and quiz master Ken, and our favourite mascot Reggie had let us all down in the Deepdale World Cup quiz both only scoring 3 out of 10 and finished in last place. Ken’s excuse was that he was up a ladder when being asked the questions and Reggie wasn’t available for comment. The message is “MUST DO BETTER!”
During our return break at Warwick Andy Tester’s trying day continued when KFC inexplicably ran out of chicken. Cue wild and extensive extraction of urine for the remainder of the journey! The best came when coach driver played a song by the fast food rockers- follow the link below: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pgPq4FGWfk Everyone joined in the singing and motions pointing to a rather subdued Tester. He took it all in great spirit (eventually!).
A wonderful day finished at 10 pm when both coaches safely pulled up at base. As usual, Clarkes of London were top notch and many thanks to our drivers Alan, Dave, Gary and Rick for a brilliant day on board.
A day to live in the memory for a long time to come.
Words and pictures from Colin Bowman, CTSA Matchday Press Officer