Awaydays in the FA Cup are always the best. The excitement in the build up to the draw and dreaming of the potential ties we can get. Alas, we of course got drawn away to Chorley.. whom we’ve already travelled to twice in the last 8 Months.
A teacher once said to me in school “fail to prepare and prepare to fail” and always thought he was a weird annoying knobhead back in the day but it turns out, he was right all along.
In an unwise move I decided to stay up a bit late and didn’t take my anti depressant tablets until about 1am. For those who’ve never taken them before, one of the main side effects (apart from the obvious) is that they make you tired as fuck the following morning. I had originally planned to wake up at 6am and sort all the bus stuff out in the morning.. however I was woken up at 7:30AM to a phone call from Davey Hansen saying ‘I’m outside mate’… FUCK. Panic ensued as I somehow managed to get showered/washed and pack the basics within 10 minutes. Forgetting the speaker and my cool bag in the process.
Naturally Davey found me being a total fucking moron hilarious has he always does. Of course I had to make a quick pit stop on the way to Blyth to grab some beer and very nearly picked up some non-alcoholic Peroni – which would have been considered a war crime amongst the lads.
Alas I picked up some Red Stripe and caught up with Parker, Pieface and the lads in Spoons with just enough time for a breakfast and for the first time in human history, Wetherspoons had actually cooked/reheated some decent bacon! Rest of the breakfast was quite canny as well. A solid 7.5/10.
Shortly after Malc turned up in his brand new bus, with a bog that didn’t smell ‘a bit funny’ and proper USB ports in every seat! We gave him his birthday card entitled ‘cunt’ and boarded the lads on the bus.
After picking the Delaval lads up we set off for Chorley across the A69 – a route we’re all too familiar with after several delightful trips to Workington over the years. Of course, most of the lads did the usual “I’m not drinking until 11am” etc etc but within an hour or so most of the delinquents had opened up a can/bottle of some sort. Then of course we had Morton with his M&S cocktails which would as per, end in disaster.
Soulsby wasn’t onboard as he was away on a shagging weekend, so we didn’t bother with the score predictor. Parker set himself away with the first blind card before letting Sellar do the second one, and made a bit of a tit of it by coming in £1.50 short and giving the winner £25. Moral of the story, don’t give gingers any sort of responsibility.
As always the journey down flew by for everyone apart from poor Wrighty, who wasn’t exactly fresh. Thankfully he had his best mate Parker to ‘take care of him’ in the loosest sense of the term.
We rocked up at the Minstrel in Chorley by about 12:30pm and went in for some pints. Naturally they were delighted to have us and the pints went down very well. A few games of chase the ace ensued (one of which I won of course) where naturally Gary got knocked out early each time and of course took it very well.. as he always does.
Malc came into grab some bait with us and of course decided he would stand guard of the bait while it was being served out.
No vegan options (we don’t do that sort of thing here) but sausage sarni’s went down a treat. I spent some time with the owners chatting bollocks and managed to score a free pint and a few hits with Pieface. By half 2 we’d finished wa bait and beers and jumped back on the bus up to the ground.
After getting in on a freebie thanks to a Chorley player we knew, me and Pie hit the bar and caught up with a few other lads who’d made their own way across and went out to watch the match.
Chorley is one of these weird grounds where they sort of have a designated ‘away end’ but it’s rarely segregated, so the home fans spread out behind both ends. Thankfully it’s yet another ground where you can drink on the terraces so we encamped in the corner near the bar for quick and easy access for refills and managed to make some new friends as well.
Admittedly the lager had began to set in and the first half was a bit of a blur. However I do remember it lacking a bit of intensity but as the half went on Blyth seemed look comfortable but still, we lacked that killer edge to grab a goal.
Most of us escaped to the bar for another pint where we could watch the match on a stream (albeit it delayed by 5 seconds) where we saw Fents giving the ref ‘a piece of his mind’ it’s fair to say.
The second half is a bit clearer in my head thankfully. We moved over to the traditional away end where they had a beer hut thingy that only served Carlsberg.. so aye. I mean it’s better than water.
Blyth’s battled in throughout the half and as game got nearer and nearer to the end looked good for a goal but again we floated or smashed crosses in for them to be blocked and passed it around the box a lot, again just missing that killer instinct.
Despite Chorley having a pretty good forward line we were never too worried as the lads managed to batter away everything Chorley did send our way. It’s fair to say most of the lads we’re happy to settle for the draw and take them back to Croft Park on Tuesday but alas, JJ swung a ball in for Gillies to head down into the goal to ensue absolute pandemonium in the away end!
Winning away from home in the final minutes is an incredible feeling. Made better by the fact we’d seen the lads battle and graft like Morton on a night out to get the win. A proper Blyth Spartans performance.
As always after those sort of wins, the bus was bouncing and the drinks were flowing. I’d be lying if I said I could remember who I was mainly talking to or what I was talking to them about but I know I enjoyed myself.
The best/worst of all was young Owen, who sadly had one too many beers bless him. And after going from ‘I love you all’ to spewing into a bag without 45 mins. An impressive turn around.
Naturally of course, we had a few sleepers on the way home. A criminal amount actually.
Bus managed to get back to Blyth for about 8:30pm ish and me and the lads wondered over to the comrades to carry on the day/night before a few pints in the lounge.
Me, Jak and Coppen finished the night off in Spoons, all far too pissed to be speaking any English to each other. Parker on the other hand gone to the Quay for a bit and ended up walking home, albeit it not a fit state with some sort of weird lean to the left.
Waking up this morning I can say I’ve felt better but Christ, what a day. Spartans awaydays with these lads are the crème de la crème 💚