Crawley Town’s proud and much written about record of not losing consecutive League One matches came to an end last Saturday as 126 away fans huddled in the Ice Cream Van Stand. More of that later.
After a quick stop at Watford Gap I caught up with George Friar, Rob Rhodes (71) and Rob Hollamby. As West Stand season tickets holders they have seen every home match and also been to virtually every away game with CTSA. Rob R explained, “Rob and I went to all the pre season friendlies and at Woking I got to shake hands with Sean O’Driscoll, it was a big shock when I had heard he walked out the next morning!” He has been following Crawley Town for 60 years and has a wealth memories, some of which he shared. He fondly remembers watching Crawley Town v Wimbledon in the FA Cup at Plough Lane even before they were in the league (we lost by the way !). All three were very positive about how the current season will pan out. George said, “it’s a tight league, a couple of wins and up we go!” As for the CTSA experience all three seemed happy with the service provided and were currently considering their festive travel plans.
Drivers Mark and Paul, who are brothers, were making their Crawley Town debut. They did a great job and we were comfortably up at the Alexandra Stadium (Gresty Road for the traditionalist) for 1pm. George and I immediately made a be-line to their impressive Air Products Stand which runs along the pitch. It’s huge and must be one of the biggest single tiered stand in the country. The capacity of the ground is 10,000 of which 7,000 can sit in here.
Up top we met John Barnett who was setting up his radio commentary equipment, as always it was nice to have a quick chat. From the photo (further down the page) you can see the top seats offer a fantastic view of the pitch and surrounding district. You will also notice how small the Ice Cream Van away Stand is in comparison.
By now, you would have either been to the game or would have read various match reports. What may have not been apparent from the reports was the effect a stiff wind and rain had on the match. During the 2nd half it really got up, blowing straight into Paul Jones face. Playing with that wind was certainly positive for the home team. After an even 1st half we went down two nil, both scored by Fulham on loan striker Lauri Dalla Valle. Unfortunately the team just couldn’t get back into the game and we slipped to a 2nd consecutive loss.
Barry Williams summed up. “I thought we played really well in the first half and passed the ball with pace and accuracy. Whilst we didn’t create what you might call a sitter our forwards were a constant threat to the home goal with corners and free kicks. Billy Clarke produced one of his now familiar runs down the right , cut in and hit which was exciting to watch. To be honest it was a very entertaining half of football and I was a bit disappointed not to be ahead.
The turning point of the game was half time. Steve Davis, (Crewe Manager) must have given his team a right rocket as they came out on the front foot. In the first minute they fired in a cross from the left which caused mayhem in our box, in the end it pinged off the cross bar.” He went on, “the home crowd got behind them and they had the wind in their favour so it was no surprise when they finally broke the deadlock. The game was effectively lost 2 mins later they scored a second and we never looked like getting back into it.”
He concluded, “the positive news is that we haven’t dropped any further in the league and I still believe that we can battle our way into a play off spot come May!” Barry’s next away match will be an exciting visit to Fratton Park on Boxing Day.
After a disappointing afternoon on the terrace at least the coach was warm and dry. Before long we were motoring down the monsoon swept M6 and M1 and after a short pit stop we were back at base at 9pm. Thanks, as always, to our travel partners Clarkes of London for another safe and comfortable trip. There are now two home games to look forward to. Good luck to all as the Reds take on Chelmsford City in the FA Cup.
Another reminder to all Reds fans wishing to travel to Portsmouth and Bournemouth, please check out the CTSA website and visit the CTSA Cabin opposite Redz. We need to have everything booked and paid for as soon as possible to guarantee your seat on a coach. So form an orderly queue on Saturday!
Words and pictures from Colin Bowman, CTSA Matchday Press