Wednesday, 4 April 2007

A place in the sun

Stone Dominoes vs Squires Gate

4 April 2007

Stone in action

A radiant spring evening announced the beginning of a long weekend and with Sammy and I having fulfilled our obligation to the ducks - who were engaged in a mass exodus from the lake to the rose garden - I myself fled the homestead for what is surely Meir Heath's third most prestigious visitor attraction.

The Springbank Stadium - normally home to Meir KA - sits in a pleasant acreage a little way out of the city. Endearingly, it boasts an improvised 'hospitality suite' picked out in bright red and perched inhospitably above the gents' urinals.

There's also a two-step terrace set some way back from the pitch. The roof of the latter rises only a little over six feet in height, and leaves you feeling like an extra in <i>Being John Malkovich</i>. Behind the dugouts is a proper paddock backed by leylandii, a steep and vacant slope that recalls the way in which most modern stadia began. This also saves the embarrassment of having to run and get the ball from under the bushes (such is Stone's big-time status), as wayward passes tend to drizzle back towards the field of play.

So, under a blood-red sky, a rather sparse crowd of 45 or so had gathered - the chosen few, U2 might say. The game was unremarkable, though fast-paced, and 'The Gate' were easily one up by half time, having enjoyed the best of the play. A gaggle of Blackpool supporters to my right began to ponder loudly on whether to give up on the Tangerines altogether.

For only the second time ever, though, I left the match early at 0-2. Doubtless one or two of you hardier souls will scoff, but I'd pledged to return home nice and early so that we can plan tomorrow's trip to the seaside with the offspring.

None the less, I witnessed one of the finest goals I've ever seen - a 50-yard volley from a Gate midfielder that nobody realised had gone in until the centre was taken. Such outrageous skill was thereby celebrated to a fitting backdrop of rapturous slurps from Thermos flasks.

Can't wait for the trip to Notts County now :-)

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