Walsall Wood 0 Guernsey 0
It starts getting difficult at quarter final stage to find a reachable game and particularly a ground that hasn't already been ticked off. The good news was I need three of the grounds. Shildon, Spennymoor & Walsall Wood, Tunbridge Wells I have already ticked off. I had talked myself into visiting Spennymoor, I was even prepared to leave at silly o'clock in the morning to get a cheap rail fare and quite fancied the idea of looking around Durham for a morning. But once again our rail network threw a spanner in the works. A replacement bus service on the return leg between Durham & Darlington left next to no time for unforseen road delays and I just couldn't risk it.
I decided on Walsall Wood. Not the easiest of journeys but possible. The return tickets were not overly cheap. Here's my tip for the day for anyone who doesn't already do this. Try breaking the journey down when buying your tickets. I got reasonably priced advance tickets between Euston & Birmingham. A return from Birmingham to Walsall bought on the day was only £3 and using my network railcard from home to Euston meant that I got very reasonably priced tickets for £20 cheaper than any advance tickets I could find for a journey from A to B.
The journey was very straight forward with no incident of note. The clouds had parted around the Coventry area and as I arrived in Walsall, for the first time in months, I was greeted with a cloudless sky and a pleasantly warm sun on my back. There was a busy around the town centre, the good weather bringing out the crowds. No sign of a declining High street either with all the usual stores open and a thriving market.
I found the bus station and joined a fairly lengthy queue waiting for the number 10 or 10A. It arrived after about 5 minutes and everyone started making their way on board. "Did you see that lady with the pushchair push in" a voice behind me shrieked. Seconds later her shopping trolley crashed into the back of my legs. "Sorry duck, didn't realise you'd stopped" She said and continued to push the trolley into my legs until I thankfully got on board.
I overhead 2 guys behind me discussing a football ground and one of them saying that he knew which stop to get off at. I hoped they were visiting the same game as me and I followed them off the bus. Thankfully, I was lucky as I hadn't really a clue where I was and it was only a couple of minutes walk to the ground.
A reasonable stand offered some cover (Not that it was needed), there was also a compact little club house and an interesting view over the fence of a monument for the old Walsall Wood colliery. As well as a burger than, the local ladies had knocked up pork and stuffing rolls and a gorgeous chilli with rice that was worth the visit all by itself. Lots of work is going on which meant that you were required to stand on hard compacted, rutty mud. I believe a training pitch is being made which should be a good facility.
This was my first experience of Guernsey football club. I spoke to a few of their fans before the game and I have to say they were all an absolute delight. I was quick last season to critisise Herne Bay fans after their semi-final game, it is only right that I should praise fans from both Walsall Wood & Guernsey. There was singing and chanting but it was all good natured banter with bad language at a minimum. The whole occassion had a lovely feel to it.
Sadly, the game didn't quite live up to it. It was always interesting, but the pitch was a great leveller due to it being surprisingly hard and bumpy. Walsall had the better chances with the Guernsey keeper making a couple of excellet stops and one dinked effort hooked off the line by a defender. Guernsey hit the bar in the second period of extra time, but you couldn't really argue with a draw.
Great to experience the Guernsey band wagon, I hope to bump into them again before too long.