UNTAINTED AT TAUNTON
By Simon Wright
“I was doing a wedding once” explained the ice cream van seller. “Top hat an’ tails, the full works. But it kicked off over a £1.50 cornet.” This was the most unusual in a series of anecdotes illustrating the violence that accompanies soft scoop vendors nowadays, sometimes leading to hospitalisation. All of which is background to the van man explaining “should have been two vans here today. The other one was supposed to do your lot but he refused to come. He was scared of being beaten up.”
Just another indignity endured by our faithful in the “Transforming Waste” stadium. Most were public knowledge, some never will be.
Being a media team roadie, I was in the near unique position of exploring both the home and the away end. In the Taunton sections, everyone was happy to pass the time of day – officials, stewards, photographers, supporters. All wholly reasonable people who would happily take a draw before kick-off. A couple wanted to congratulate the Champions on their thumping 4-0 win over Salisbury. The Wiltshire club apparently are not popular here.
For the first hour, the Clubhouse was largely denuded of seats (voracious needs of Radio Hereford FC again) and people. The four bar staff, repelling no boarders, were very pleased to serve the thirsty HFC Media Squad with drinks and smiles in the absence of any other custom. In the distance, our noisy coach-born supporters were faintly audible heading off towards the nearest pub.
I could easily have stayed in the home end. Some discreet Hereford supporters did just that. But in my other footballing life, claret and blue is not never ever to be encouraged or mixed with. Besides, I had a rare opportunity to join the footballing mosh pit, just a distant memory at the professional level.
I won’t dwell on the indignities, which you either endured or are already aware, other than to say I’ve repeatedly visited every big ground in England. All of them have managed without such airport style security.
I believe our Dunkirk spirit, boosted by Championship zen, contributed to the remarkably loud vocals throughout. The sun beamed. the match lacked je ne sais quoi and beer there was none. And still we paid raucous homage.
Taunton, taunted often, had no riposte even though they outnumbered the Champions support. Maybe they were aggrieved by being held back like sulky schoolchildren at the end. Always reassuring to see so many familiar faces. I continue to marvel at the dedication of fellow Exiles. East Midlanders Chris Jones and Andy and Karen Davies made it – astonishing 440 mile return effort, guys.
I was convinced of the score outcome long before the end, even though both sides were “putting it in.” I suspect this was a taste of the determined, physically strong level of opposition we will face next season.
Our team were just not allowed to show their best form. And neither, pleasingly, were theirs. A draw at the second placed side ticked a few boxes and our extraordinary away record continues.
Enjoy these moments. Winter is coming and we may never see its likes again.