Screw Ten Top (Or Should That Be Bottom?)

Home game three of four in eleven days, and today’s opponents are Scunthorpe United. The fourth most famous team to play in claret and blue (and second most famous to have Iron as their nickname). The only team to have been blocked by an over zealous e-mail filter because it contains the word cunt within its name. (Which I’m sure is why the town managed to find itself name checked in the Tinie Tempah song “Pass Out” as a place he’d never been to.)

It is a team that came to my attention in the late seventies or early eighties purely down to the fact that my dad couldn’t (or more likely wouldn’t) pronounce it as Scunthorpe. It was always pronounced as screw-ten-top. Something which is catching apparently as I say that nowadays myself. Much to the confusion of whoever it is I’m speaking to.

For their home games, Scunthorpe United come out to Sham 69’s classic “The Kids Are United”. And although they won’t be running out to that today, they are much more in Sham 69’s neck of the woods. (The closest they can play a league game to it.)

After playing (and drawing) to Oldham Athletic who are second from bottom, we play the team who are bottom of the division today. Scunthorpe United start the day eight points adrift of Oldham Athletic and another point from safety. We start the game in twelfth having crept into the top half after the draw on Tuesday night.

We have used one set of the free ticket vouchers we got with the season tickets for this game and are joined by Tom and Terri. And with this we were extra early for the game. So early that I was able to get a programme, make a stop in the club shop to pick up some merch (including a jumper which Helen is already calling my school jumper), and then into Redz bar for pre-game refreshments. We hadn’t been into Redz bar so far this season (cutting it fine as we usually do). In fact, I’ve only been in the once before. Way back in the 2006-07 season when I came as an away “fan” to a Conference game against Southport. It wasn’t long after I’d moved to Crawley, and Howard, a friend from work in Manchester and a Southport season ticket holder was in town and persuaded me to go.

We were stood outside the bar under a gazebo, but even with there being a light drizzle it was probably safer to be out from under it, as it did look as if it was going to take off into the breeze. I’d never seen much of the ground this empty on a match day, but mainly because I’m never here this early.

The light drizzle did mean there was no sprinkler action during the warm up. But there was no sign of Al. I checked and Brighton were playing away, so no idea where he was. (Only to notice a quarter of an hour into the game he was over patrolling the away fans for this game.)

After the mention of claret and blue, it was always going to be an away kit Scunthorpe were wearing. Black with yellow trim and seemingly moving bits that showed yellow tiger style stipes. The second Saturday on the trot the away side were going for the tiger look. At least there were no short shorts this week.

Crawley start with some good early pressure, but the first save of the match is from Morris. Just after spotting Al the first ball of the day disappears after a bit on pinball on the roof of the Mayo Wynne Baxter stand it goes out over the corner of the KRL Logistics stand instead.

Ball two follows a few minutes later, this time from a wayward Scunthorpe shot over the Ryan Cantor Club stand. And two minutes later we are all up as we think that we’ve scored, only for it to have been cleared off the line. Ball three disappears over our heads and the People’s Pension stand. I’m quite happy that was over the stand as it was seriously travelling and in a direct line with where I was sat.

After two minutes on injury time the half time whistle goes, and it is still 0-0. And half time brings another visit to Redz bar, another first for us. Yes, the half time play list was the same as ever. And as usual Crawley came out a couple of minutes after the away side had appeared.

I’m not quite sure what the ref had dropped, but he spent some time picking up bits and pieces from the ground and shaking water off them. We were probably lucky he wasn’t paying full attention as if he had been then George Francomb may well have got a booking for slamming the ball into the pitch in disgust at a decision given.

Just after the half hour mark of the second half and ball number four disappears, this time from an abysmal sliced cross, out over the Ryan Cantor Club stand. An ongoing theme for the team today. There was a lot of pressure, and some nice slick passing moves. However, I lost count of a number of things.

  1. How many times the final ball was absolutely fucking useless.
  2. How many times the shot or attempted shot would have struggled to break out of a paper bag.
  3. How many times we didn’t shoot. For crying out loud, just have a pop, stop trying to walk the bloody ball in, we are not Arsenal in the later Wenger years. It’s wet, the ball is slippy, just fucking shoot.

Three minutes of injury time was never going to be enough for us to score a goal. I doubt that three hours, or even three days would have been enough today. The sponsors’ man of the match was Joel Lynch, well they have to give it to someone. They didn’t announce the crowd, but it was 2,144 with 125 away fans, which meant that we broke the two thousand mark for home fans for the first time in months.

It’s just a shame that we had this frustrating 0-0 draw with the bottom side in the league (a side that beat us in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season, meaning they have four of their twenty-four points in the league this season against us.) And that it followed on from a draw against the second from bottom side. After a win against the top of the league.

And that leaves the last of the four home games on the trot on Tuesday night against Bristol Rovers. They are above us in the league, so hopefully we can raise our game. And perhaps SHOOT more.

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