CTSA’s latest away adventure took us up to the North East and a League one match against Hartlepool. With 3 northern wins already in the bank there wasn’t a hint of nerves as the Clarke’s of London coach pulled away at 6.30am. Before long the M11 was being eaten up and we were watching Tommy Cooper on DVD (just like that!).
After the first stop at Peterborough John Aldred entertained us with his Sports/General knowledge quiz which Peter Phelan won with 30 points (is Travel Ken’s famous football quiz being phased out? We must be told). John might have been the only person on the bus to have previously been to Hartlepool. He advised, “our last trip was many moons ago when my son and I came up here with Crystal Palace (boo) one January. It was a totally miserable day as we lost one nil to a last min penalty”.
The breaking news was that we were to appear on Danny Baker’s 5live coach poker game- our opponents being the occupants of a coach from Tranmere who were on their way to Bournemouth. Travel Ken was our radio representative. We won the 1st point which was to do with star signs, then they equalised with a front door numbers game. Unfortunately we lost the decider when the most interesting thing on the bus was apparently an Indonesian flag. When asked about it Ken said it was here when we got on this morning and was disqualified. Ken was rightly booed by the bus for his poor performance and tried to cover up with excuses! We all knew that if he’d advised DB of Andy Tester’s KFC habit we’d have won by a walkover! Never mind Ken we won the important game- I’m sure Tranmere would have swapped their radio victory for one on the pitch.
After a traffic free journey we were pulling into Hartlepool for 1pm. Enough time to get a beer and perhaps a stroll around the town. The weather was amazing, mild still and sunny. Not quite the freezing hell hole we might of expected, eh Ian? (Ian would just like to say that he grew up in the north east and it was always a freezing when he lived there. Sorry). The Victoria Ground is very compact and with 3850 inside it felt quite full. We were housed in the covered Smith and Graham stand behind the goal which gave a great view of the action (but at £25 a shot we needed more than a good view- a free pie and chips would have been nice).
In keeping with our away form this season it was no surprise when Town offered up yet another victory. This was no fluent, easy win but a professional hard working team performance where three points were fully deserved. The home team, battling early season relegation blues, came out all guns blazing in the 2nd half but their effort couldn’t be matched with craft and guile. They did send in a few long shots which Jones did well with and some late long balls into the box. Ultimately they drifted to another home loss and a long way from safety.
All that was a long way from the minds of celebrating Reds fans minds as they boarded the coach. By 11.30pm we were back at base but not before a long bout of “Travel Ken’s Barmy Army” from the back seats. Another great CTSA adventure came to an end. Many thanks to Clarke’s drivers Alan and Elvis who were brilliant on the day. Poor Elvis got monsoon rain all the way back from Cambridge!
CTSA member Nick Hilton gives his comments :-
What did your think of today’s game?
I thought it was a solid, professional, performance with Town running out worthy winners. We dominated during the 1st half and bossed the midfield. It may have looked a comfortable win from the stands but that was down to hard work and a lot of running off the ball. Nicky Adams was brilliant again today covering every blade of grass and gets my man of the match.
A spectacular Hope Apkan volley may have provided the winning moment but for me goalkeeper Paul Jones made two match winning saves in the second half. The 2nd one a full length dive to his left which was the key moment in the game. We had to endure 5 mins added time at the end but held on for another massive away win.
That’s 8 league wins already, where are we going this season?
Its been a wonderful start to our life in League One and very enjoyable for the fans. However, it’s still far too early to talk of play off’s. There are a lot of quality teams to play and there is the FA Cup to concentrate on. Lets talk again once we get through the busy festive programme.
And as for our hosts?
After today I fear for them, its probably going to be a tough winter however they have a lovely little compact ground and a partisan crowd which might just be the key for them to avoid the dreaded drop into league 2 come May.
Nick concluded, “it’s been another brilliant day out with CTSA following the Reds and well worth getting out of bed at 5.30am this morning”!
Words and pictures from Colin Bowman, CTSA matchday press