Friday 14 June 2019

Steelfest - Corby Town FC Vs Bedford Town FC, Evo-Stik Southern League Central Play-Off Semi-Final, Steel Park (01/05/19)

Tom and I are different in so many ways, some obvious, some not so much. “I forgot my belt” he tells me, suggesting that he might unintentionally look like one of those guys who fashionably wear their trousers so low that their arse is hanging out, and me at the opposite end of the spectrum has done my belt up so tight, I feel like a link of sausages.

As is always the case with an evening fixture, my day has already been relatively chocka with looking after my daughter, a personal highlight of today was changing her on the boot of my car, with no baby changing facilities at hand, and it means I’m already a little pooped by the time we set off. The close conditions doesn't help, but some intensive Game Of Thrones chat, helps the time go by, until Tom’s child sized bladder and constant need to snack, somewhat consumes us.

Have you got any food in here I'm starving?” he asks while rifling through the glove compartment, “! Should have brought Jaffa cakes” he says to himself, when he’s unable to find anything.

“I had my pizza too early” he adds, racked with anguish at the realisation he might have to wait a whole sixty minutes before being able to eat.

The fleeting shower has Tom concerned, but how humid it is, is bothering him the most, “it’s like there is no air” he gasps, his nose and mouth pressed up against a crack in the window, like a dog locked in a car. A smattering of bizarre straight out the packet houses occupy him for a moment, “It's like the Truman show”. However the return of the rain, which is much harder than before, falling from some sinister black clouds above, has him all Schafernakering once more, “here it comes”.

As you can imagine I’ve got used to Tom’s incessant need to eat over the last four years, but today seems to have hit a new level, a level which even has him concerned, “I don't know why I'm so hungry all of a sudden” he says, before his self diagnosis takes a turn towards the ridiculous. Like when someone with a cough, Googles their problem and ends up thinking they have TB, “I’ve got worms”. Stepping it up from rifling, now more like a thorough police search, he is on the hunt for food again, “have you got any weird baby crackers in here?”, he puts to me, muttering under his breath when I tell him I don’t, “well that's disappointing”.

I considered shorts before leaving today, “bad idea” says Tom shaking his head, and he’s probably not wrong, its much cooler now and the rain has been ever present for the last half an hour. Tom flits from upbeat, “ohhh a castle” he chirps when we pass a local landmark, to the down right morose, “this can fuck right off” he snarls with the rain getting harder.

Pulling up outside the frankly dreary and grey looking Steel Park home of Corby Town FC (CT), the situation outside the cars four walls, is not exactly welcoming, “not getting out of the car until it stops” huffs Tom, in full protest mode. I’m just waiting for him to hold his breath and lie down on the floor.

When I eventually tempt him out, he has a face like thunder, the very same thunder that is lurking in the churning sky above, that has turned a concerning shade of black since our arrival. “Erghh fucking horrible” he grimaces, his face contorted as the rain patters against his hood. There is only one thing, well three in this case that might shake him from his funk and he needs them stat, “a can of coke, a packet of crisps” and most importantly a “wee”.

Pool table, tick. Dancefloor, tick. Stage, tick. Chuck in some fairy lights and leather sofas too, and the Steelmen Bar, is just about as textbook a clubhouse as you can get. In fact, considering the large J├Ągermeister banner and the choice of music, it’s the Beastie Boys playing when we take a seat, it's more like a Student Union.

“Bit of a workout getting up here” I overheard a man much fitter than me say, after ascending the steps to the first floor bar, and he’s not wrong, I’m gasping, but as I pant away, Tom is off in his own little world, he’s already furnished himself with a pack of crisps and a drink, so he’s dandy.

Rage Against The Machine on the sound system and people gassing about how cheap the larger is, it's like the early 2000’s all over again and although Is never went to university, Championship Manager 2 squashed any hope of that. I visited a few with friends who didn't let a football management simulator get in the way of their higher learning, and I’m getting some serious flashbacks.

The bar is getting fuller, which can only mean the weather is getting worse. Talking to Macca CT’s head of media before taking on Mount Clubhouse, he said they would have expected "seven hundred” tonight, but a combination of the bad weather and “Barcelona Vs Liverpool” on the TV, it could be a bit less than expected.

I genuinely can't believe it's taken him this long to check, so preoccupied with scoffing, when he eventually gets round to find out what his all seeing weather app thinks we have in store tonight, his post Walkers high, takes a considerable nose dive, “rain until eight”.

Wafting up the stairs, like something from a Tom & Jerry cartoon, the smell of the burger bar below us, has just hit Tom. I want to stick around and listen to more Nirvana, but he’s ready to move on, motivated by his gut, “I'm hungry”, yeah really, you kept that quiet. “I'm gonna go eat” he says as he stands up, barely giving me time to gather myself, and he’s off. I suggest I’m not sure it’s ready yet, but he thinks he knows better, “smells ready”.

Tom acts like he knew all along that it was closed and doesn't acknowledge the ‘I told you so’ look on my face. Making a beeline instead for the black and white container that houses the club shop, we pass a man in a CT hat whose pint is slowly being diluted by the rain, doing his best from behind a fold out table, to keep the match day programmes dry, “two pounds a programme” he shouts, towards those ticking through the turnstiles opposite him.

For all our sakes I hope the club shop is open, it doesn't look very open, and Tom is close to going the full Wicked Witch of the West. It’s not, fuck.

In matching flat caps and CT coats, two men approach, offering us with an air of Arthur Daley about them some “half time draw” tickets. I explain I’ve already got mine, purchased from the second of the two soggy men, where I also got my programme, that was out of the box and into my bag in record time, to avoid even the slightest bit of water damage. “But we always sell the winners” says one of them, and as much as I would like to believe them, and as much as I would like to shell out a couple more quid for a guaranteed winner, I’ve got Tom’s mental health to consider. He’s been out in the rain for a full five now, and he’s starting to unravel.

The sickly sweet overtures of Taylor Swift are booming from the speakers in the substantially sized main stand, where Corby is spelt out in white seats and it's only a shame the music outside doesn't match the calibre of that playing inside. I’m as fond of Lady Gaga as the next man, even her duet with Bradley Cooper not “Bradly Wiggins” as Tom thought it was, however, I'd much rather the playlist from the clubhouse if I'm honest.

As impressive as the main stand is, the size of which you just don’t see that often at this level, The vast covered terrace behind one goal, named after a local VC recipient James Ashworth, is a whole other kettle of fish. Stretching from one corner flag to the other, and reaching back what must be up about a story, it's a beast. Already in position, a couple of the local young guns have staked a claim to their spot for the night, and have strung out their black and white Union Jack. There is also quite a sizable drum among their ranks too, so we could be in for one of our noisier nocturnal outings this season.

How is it that footballers never look bothered by the rain, but everyone else, who generally are wearing far more than they are, protected by hoods and brollies, look totally devastated by its presence? “Alright boys” says the CT manager to a couple of CT supporters, in his thick Scottish accent, the very same one we encountered only a few months ago, where his persistent use of the word “pish” as his team played their part in a remarkable 5 - 3 defeat, had Tom in stitches.

The shop is tight, but well stocked. Rosettes cover one wall. A shirt from CT’s Norway supporters club is on display and the decapitated head of manikins, show off an array of hats for sale. “Very nice
badge” comments Tom, looking happy for perhaps the first time today, “can't go wrong with black and white”.

In the shop and seemingly not there to buy anything, I think it's more a case of wanting to be out the rain and to have a chat, one man's monologue, apparently not directed at anyone in particular, the shop staff get about serving customers, highlights a very interesting point and one I might be inclined to agree with him on. “I wouldn't wanna be Bedford” he announces, “coming all that way and can't get promoted”.

Other than the rain, this particular quirk of the FA’s league restructuring has been the main topic of conversation since we arrived. CT’s opponents, Bedford Town FC (BT) are indeed unable to get promoted, even if they won today and went on to win the play off final.

“Not sure we are far enough north for gravy” ponders Tom, as he runs his eyes over the extensive menu at the Steelmen Refreshments, that despite the rain is still busy. Very much in the Midlands, Tom doesn't think we are strictly in chips and gravy territory yet and as tempted as he is to ask for a healthy slosh of brown stuff, his favourite of all the food groups, he declines. Buoyed by the size of the boy in fronts cheesy chips, Tom is raring to go when his food makes an appearance.

Almost a quarter filled with the rain water, the bucket holding the condiments is at risk of sinking. Tom hurriedly applies a single large squirt of burger sauce to his cheeseburger, before putting the lid back on, before bolting for the main stand. The integrity of the napkin around it, is deteriorating by the second, and it's only a matter of time before we have a soggy bun situation on our hands.

The first whack of the drum is an attempt to disrupt the warm up of the BT keeper. More orchestrated hitting is followed, and we get our first chant of the night not long after, “come on Corby, come on Corby”. The ever present music is turned off so the teams can be read out. Back on and the first tune after the starting elevens, couldn't be further away from Taylor Swift if it tried. I think, and I’m not 100% sure by any means so don’t hold me to it, it’s Keith Allen's Vindaloo being performed on the bagpipes.

From the mouth of the long humbug looking black and white striped tunnel that has been hauled into place, filling the considerable gulf between the changing rooms and the pitch, the players appear to more thumps of the drum from underneath the cover of the uber terrace, while the excitable voice on the PA, welcomes us to “Steel Park”.

Soon though all the noise is silenced by the song that accompanies the players as they cross the pitch. From the opening bars its clear its an oldie, this is no Kasabian, and it takes me a moment to realise the significance of it, but when I do, It could not be more perfect.

“Steel men, hey. Working on a bridge of steel”.

Jimmy Dean over with, all the sounds of a busy football ground fill the air, the drum and hoardings are both brought into play to amp things up, which inspire more cries of “come on Corby” that ring out from all four corners of Steel Park. A small shed to the side of the main stand, where somewhere at its summit Tom is waiting for me, the two ladies inside are slinging out the last few cuppas before kick off and the man on the PA who has only slightly calmed down, informs us all that there will be “half an hour extra time, then penalty kicks” should the scores be level after ninety minutes, I can tell you now, there will be no need for that.

As the referee prepares to start, the drum beats out the first rendition of the home fans main chant, that is a tad unusual lets say. It’s not the lyrics, they are relatively standard “come on…” then insert name of team, it's more the way it's delivered. The first line is slow and almost staggered, the second line, a repeat of the first, are this time much faster with far shorter pauses between each word. A new one for me.

“Not started well” says a concerned sounding home supporter, in the opening five minutes BT have already carved out two solid chances, going close to scoring on both occasions. First heading over, then it’s only the feet of the CT keeper that stops the visitors taking an early lead,  after one BT player squirmed all the way to the edge of the six yard box, past some statuesque looking CT defenders.

The Eagles are not yet showing any signs that the game to them is just an obligation, they have started with considerable verve.

With maybe the best seats in the house, the very back row of the main stand, the entirety of Steel Park stretches out before us. A mixture of home and away supporters cascade all the way down to pitch side and although it’s not immediately clear, simply from the back of their heads which team they are vying for. The oohing and ahhing, the involuntary reactions to a bad pass or a missed chance, gives the game away and somewhere within the throng someone has a wooden rattle.

The BT fans in the age old non league tradition are standing behind the goal they are attacking and there seemed to be no question that the still falling rain, was going to put a stop to this. Braving the rain, they are in reasonable voice, their spirits not dampened, they’ve time for a quip about the futility of the tie, “we’re not going up”.

Setting it’s stall out early, tonight's game has decided already that its not going to be a cagey affair, a chess match, a tactical dual, it’s going to be an all out attack fest. After the early home scares, it’s their turn to test the BT keepers nerve. The shot at the end of a fast paced counter is pushed in to touch, then a header from the resulting corner goes the same way, deflected wide. “Steelmen, Steelmen” sing the supporters behind the goal, gathered behind their single flag.

Outnumbered and far soggier, the BT fans continue to give a good account of themselves, “la, la, la Eagles” and their sides performance justifies their ebullience. A dipping long range shot is just over the bar, which inspires another round of “Bedford town, Bedford town”.

So packed is the main stand, I’m still unable to work out who is wielding the rattle, among the sea of heads in front of us. Tom is far from impressed by the latest CT attempt, “pony” he sneers, after a low lacklustre shot bobbles along the ground straight at the keeper. Not long after a flicked header from their number 9 is far more like it and a few moments after that, after their less than convincing start, the home side took the lead.

A blocked cross falls kindly to a CT player on the edge of the box, whose neat one touch and turn sees him send a shot goalwards, that the neon orange clad BT keeper can only parry, straight into the path of the eventual scorer who hammers the ball into the roof of the net. An archetypal “poachers goal” as one CT supporter put it and taking full advantage of the wet weather the scorer dashes for the corner flag, before jumping, his knees sliding along the turn, ending up reclined on his side like one of Jacks French girls.

Almost the entire stand is on its feet, except the odd BT board member in their distinctive Southern League coats who just grumble among themselves, bemoaning missed opportunities. The drum strikes up, and the fans around it join in, “we are going up”. They then turn their attention towards the BT supporters, who despite just finishing a song, “come on Bedford”, they still ask, “can you hear the Bedford sing?”.

They are rather muted calls of “off, off, off” from the BT fans in the aftermath of a robust CT challenge. The fans are far too busy taking their turn to rib the home crowd, “can you hear the Corby sing, I can't hear a fucking thing” they ask, who considering their number, plus percussion section, are not exactly raucous.

One of the flat cap wearing, half time draw guaranteed winner, ticket selling spivs, standing on the other side of Tom, describes the opening twenty minutes or so perfectly, “fast and furious”. It’s been extremely entertaining and known to be prone to the odd moment of the clairvoyant in past, Tom “definietly feels like there is going to be lots of goals”, and he’s clearly having one of his more accurate days because seconds after he gave up his reading of the leaves, CT double their lead.

“John Crawford’’ bellows the man on the microphone, just along from us in his glass fronted booth. Punching the air, and gesturing towards the fans behind the goal, the scorer, number 11 has almost scored a carbon copy of the first goal, stabbing home from only a few feet out, another one for the fox in the box column. Wondering if it was simply a one off, the second high pitched whoop from someone in the stand, confirms that it’s one particular persons go to celebration. The BT fans respond like every half decent set of supporters should, “come on Bedford, come on Bedford” but it already feels like a very, very long way back.

The shouts this time of “off, off, off” are far louder as another CT tackle brings about a stop to the game. “Might be a red” suggests Tom, the stand has fallen quiet, as the referee talks over his actions with the player responsible for the foul. Relief, the noise levels quickly rise again when the crowd sees its only a yellow.

BT could probably consider themselves rather hard done by, being two goals behind. It’s just a case
of being CT being clinical, that they are almost out of the game before its even really got going. They force the CT keeper to make another save one on one and for the second time in as many minutes the relief is palpable about the place, when the home fans notice the referees assistant stood with his flag raised.

“I drink it quite a lot” Tom informs me, supping from a bottle of all things Irn Bru. Tom reckons it all part of the long reaching influence of the clubs Scottish manager that it’s available to buy. The luminescent orange drink is not to everyones taste, certainly not mine, but I can see Tom is getting somewhat of a heady buzz from the fifty eight grams of sugar per sip. So leave him to it.

“Get in” shouts a loan BT voice in the stand, when it looks like the away team might just have got themselves back in the game, only for the leaping header to come back off the face of the post. Those still standing out in the drizzle, belt out once again “come on Bedford”, the rattle whirls in response, but I still can’t see who has bloody got it. Tom who has noticed me scanning the crowd to see where the distinctive noise is emanating, has a theory, that it’s not actually here at all and it’s being “piped in, like at Spurs new ground”.

BT look deadly from the wings, and are causing CT all sorts of trouble. An unfortunate deflection of a CT players balls, after it was fired into the box from the flanks, almost finds its way in after the agonising ricochet. The player in question who put more than most on the line, for the sake of their team crumples down to the ground and as you can appreciate is slow to get back up.

Whatever the man with the microphone is putting in his tea, I want some, he is bouncing off the walls. Talking of tea, Tom is trying his best to persuade me to go and get him a “nice cuppa and a Kit Kat” at the break but I’m not budging and come to think about it, maybe the man on the PA is not in a drug induced state at all and he is simply high on life. The joy in his voice when he announces the name of the scorer of CT’s third, you would think BT are now dead and buried, by the “player wearing number nine”, the combined distance of CT’s goals scored standing at about eighteen yards, if that, is infectious.

Using the slick surface to his advantage, another sliding celebration is opted for, but this time it's not the customary on the knees, but his side. Coming to a stop with his head propped up by one hand, with one leg cocked, like his is posing for a still life class.

CT almost crown what might just be about the most perfect half a team could ask for, with a fourth, only this time it's their turn to experience the frustration of watching a well taken header come back off the woodwork. More of a up and over, than the bullet like BT’s effort earlier, the BT keeper can only watch as it sails over him, saved only by the frame of his goal.

The announcement of “three added minutes” of extra time I imagine is the last thing BT wanted to hear, CT can smell blood. The announcement though of a prog rock festival happening at Steel Park in the coming weeks, our second prog rock, football crossover in as many games, an unlikely alliances, but one nonetheless, is like music to my ears, when Tom fills me in on “Steelfest”.

A yellow card after a BT foul is received with plenty of panto “boooo” from the home fans. CT’s free kick prompts Tom to point a bit of a glaring issue in the BT keepers arsenal, “he’s very flappy” as he makes hard work again of what looks like a simple ball.

Apparently not wanting to get caught up in the half time rush for a meal deal, that Tom was very taken aback by, as he was by the “lots of chips”, the drum and the CT flag have already made the move and are nowhere to be seen or heard when the referee draws the goal filled half to an end, with the most timid of blows of his whistle.

Ecstatic probably doesn't go far enough to convey the unadulterated frenzy in the voice of the man on the microphone, he’s only dishing out some advice for those looking for a drink or maybe a spot to eat during the break, you would think he was sharing with us he’d just won the lottery. “Not often we start like that” says an almost shell shocked CT fan, as they start to pick over the first half performance. “Good evening John, you look very happy for a change” says one man to another, no one its seems can quite believe the shift their team has just put in.

“04201, if you have that lucky number you've won £179”, don’t even bother wondering if its me walking away with the prize, of course its fucking not, and Tom’s smirking “you've got to be in it to win it” is so unnecessary.

Another Scottish reference rears its head, the latest a reminder about tickets for a friendly against Rangers and Tom rightly points out, “where were they?” as the big terrace gets a “very patriotic” makeover, when a succession of really big St George's Crosses are erected by the BT supporters in their second half home. Dashing about the main stand, a group of young girls stop to take a breather in seats of the visiting club officials that have been vacated in the search for prawn sandwiches no doubt. Coming over all Dad like, he will be married soon it’s only a matter of time, he says something so out of character, I’m forced to make a double take, to ensure it’s still him next to me, “they are in for a rude awakening”.

Jimmy Dean gets his second airing of the night, the sound of the BT fans dotted around their flags on the steep steps of the terrace, ever so slightly mar his performance, “come on Bedford, come on Bedford. The clubs signature tune, means the players are on their way back out and Tom calls for a “redraw” when its announced the 50/50 “has not been claimed”. Shooting him a quizzical glance he tells me “I’m trying to help you”.

A bit of cover, some decorating and the rain no longer drumming against their heads, has made a world of difference to the BT fans. They have well and truly found their voice as the second half gets under way, showing off some of that kind of blind optimism, only football fans poses, “we’re gonna win 4 - 3”.

It’s a howler at each end, that gets the new half underway. CT’s keeper has a case of butterfingers, but BT can’t make the most of it, and then from point blank range one BT player conspires to miss, sending his shot high and wide, from almost under the crossbar. In between the end of season gaffs & bad misses montage contenders, BT’s fans in their new spot secure their position as the loudest of the two sets of supporters. CT’s still drumless, didn't fancy getting it wet perhaps, don’t have much of a reply to the latest BT jab, “you're supposed to be at home”, and considering I’ve never been to Bedford, I would love to be able to make out what makes it so “wonderful”.

Just shy of ten minutes gone, and CT’s first attack of note presents them with a chance at a fourth. Clutching his knee, half in the foetal position, it’s hard to tell if the BT keeper who in combination with a teammate somewhat wiped out the CT player who burst into the box, is trying to garner sympathy, making out it was him who was fouled and not the other way round to avoid the inevitable or he’s actually hurt.

There are calls for his dismissal, “red card referee” says one man pompously. No amount of apparent injury to the “flappy” keeper prevents what everyone knew was coming, and as the man in charge prepares for the spot kick, the man on the PA takes the opportunity to tell us they are “still looking for
the 50/50 winner” and once again Tom calls for a “redraw”.

There is no card, and despite his earlier anguish, the keeper is up to face the penalty, which CT’s number 9 dispatches coolly. The fans as he takes his run up “ohhhhhhhh” in anticipation, sending the keeper the wrong way, he celebrates not by skimming along the pitch, but with a mixture of Maori war dance and WWE heel, drawing his thumbs across his throat. As fantastic as that sounds, he is somewhat upstaged by a teammate, who rushes to the byline to pick up a hat that has been chucked onto the pitch, proceeds to put it on and gives the fans the sign of the devil with each hand.

When talk around us starts to turn to the Play-Off Final, one man isn't ready to have that conversation quite yet, “just wanna get through this one. Anything else is a bonus” and after such a high tempo first half and similar first quarter of the second half the game has slowed somewhat, it almost feels like a case of each team running down the clock. Off the pitch it's a different matter, the BT supporters only keep on getting louder, regardless of the scoreline. Maybe it's the opulence of their surroundings that has boosted them, “You are my Bedford, my only Bedford, you make me happy when skies are grey”.

A consolation goal, a lapse in home concentration, the start of the most remarkable comeback, call it what you will, but BT have just scored, a sublime header, from a fair way out, that sailed perfectly over the hapless CT keeper and the BT fans are encouraged, “we’re gonna win 5 - 4”.

A ripple of polite applause for the goal meanders through the main stand, after the scorers name is confirmed. Another appeal for the 50/50 winner to make themselves known goes out again and like a broken record, Toms repeats his new catchphrase, “redraw”.

The score from the other semi final, soon spreads around the ground like wildfire, bearing in mind they have just conceded, there still doesn't seem a doubt in anyones mind that this game is anything than theirs, except the BT fans of course, “we're gonna score in a minute”.

BT are now well and truly on the front foot, it looks like a case of CT being more than happy to now sit back and absorb whatever the Eagles can throw at them, conserve their energy for the final, rather than them having a wobble. “Come on Corby” shouts one fan anxiously and Tom puts the change in fortunes for a team who looked like they had been well and truly blown away, down to the “big bald bloke” a recent BT sub.

Tom is not the only one who possesses powers of the supernatural, “stop the cross” demands one CT fan, who has foreseen danger as the BT player prepares to whip it in. Although to be fair, you wouldn't exactly have to be Dr Strange to work that one out, BT have been formidable from wide since the start, regardless, CT don’t stop it and in an attempt to challenge the BT forward in the air, the CT defender clumsily bangs into him from behind and they are awarded a penalty.

Many of the local youth rush towards the other end to goad the taker, crashing whatever they can against the hoardings, they do their job perfectly and probably the loudest cheer of the night goes up following the one handed save from the CT keeper to deny BT their second. Punching the air widely, like a man possessed, I think the CT stopper might just be a little bit happy and for what feels like the first time in a while, the home fans sing, “come on Corby”.

Even though they missed their chance to put the cat among the pigeons, to at least make the final throes of the match interesting, their heads have not dropped. All until, just after the “official attendance” of seven hundred and thirty eight is declared, they are reduced to ten.

“Off, off, off” insist the home fans, and this time they get their wish. The BT player from right down in front of us is forced to take a very long walk down the tunnel, which sadly does not get even one cheerio. Tom shouting over the cheers of the home fans tells me he doesn't know “what all the fuss is about” the challenge he didn't think “was that bad”.

An invasion of the BT end by the mini CT ultras somewhat distracts from the goings on the pitch for a moment, although it might be foolish to look away for too long, might miss another goal. “They're about twelve” laughs Tom, the mob hammer the hoarding, they are about the loudest the home fans have been all day. Spinning scarves above their heads, they taunt the BT fans, but get very little in return

Behind the referees back a “battle” as Tom puts it, is playing out between the two opposing number 11’s. One hitting the other and it goes unnoticed. Into the final ten minutes and the BT fans still cling to their faith, “we’re gonna win 5 - 4” and the once positive shouts of the CT supporters around us, are starting to turn a little irritated. “Come on Corby” snaps one man through gritted teeth, BT have just halved the deficit, a miss kick in CT defence presents the perfect ball for one BT player at the end of his late run into the box to tap in and along with the rain, the tension descends.

“If we'd just scored the penalty” hypothesises one BT fan, thinking over the ifs and buts. The home “twelve year olds” full of all the energy of youth are still going at it, and it's giving me a bit of a headache and if the game hadn't had enough already, we’re treated to our seventh goal and CT’s fifth. The towering number 4 celebrates with his manger in his arms and sounding like the name of a shit game show hosted by Robert Kilroy Silk, Tom reckons the short lived comeback has well and truly been stopped in its tracks, “nullified.

Just shows what I know, twenty five minutes to go, and I thought the game was being played out, a foregone conclusion, how wrong I was. What action, what ups and downs we’ve seen and it's not quite over yet, the ground now quiet, the other semi final still a stalemate, I overhear murmurs about which of those two teams they would rather face, the football Gods send one last hurdle, one last test for the CT supporters to overcome, BT have just bundled home their third.


“Five” exclaims one CT supporter, the amount of added on time and in turn the time for BT to score two or god forbid three, is too much to bare. The BT fans, who have been close to non stop this half are now stuck on loop, “blue and white army”.

With the game on somewhat of a knife edge, I’m surprised to notice many of those around me are watching the Barcelona Vs Liverpool match huddled around the screen of a phone, “he’s in, he’s in” says one, but the apparent chance in Catalonia comes to nothing. The BT fans are still stuck on the one song, stopping only briefly to sing a song to the tune of 'Unchained Melody, but soon take up where they left off, “blue and white army”.

The game comes to an end but not before one last blooper from the BT keeper, he allows a big hoofed clearance to bounce on the edge of his box, "looks nervous" says one CT fan as he looks for a second to have misjudged the bounce.

For the third and final time Jimmy Dean washes over Steel Park, and I've gone from wondering what
the hell he was going on about, to humming along in just ninety minutes. His 1960's upbeat, post war, chipper outlook on life, is the ideal way to toast a victory. Still concentrating all their efforts into the one song, BT's fans applaud their approaching players. A loss is a loss, even if it ultimately meant nothing and you can see that across the faces of the BT players in their blue and white stripes.

Most of those CT supporters not cheering the teams impromptu walk about from the main stand, have gathered around the mouth of the tunnel, where the rattling metal fence makes for a perfect alternative to the drum, and one CT player, perhaps injured or suspended, greets almost every departing player with an intense embrace and a growl that would put Conor McGregor to shame.

The Irn Bru and Rangers makes perfect sense after our post match history lesson. CT getting their nickname due to the clubs association with a local steel works, and the area is dubbed "little Scotland" because of the influx of Glaswegians to work in the aforementioned.

Fancy a Jagerbomb, a meal deal and free scoring football? Steel Park is the place for you.

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  1. i am ERIC BRUNT by name. Greetings to every one that is reading this testimony. I have been rejected by my wife after three(3) years of marriage just because another Man had a spell on her and she left me and the kid to suffer. one day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how this spell caster on this address have help a woman to get back her husband and i gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a man had a spell on my wife and he told me that he will help me and after 3 days that i will have my wife back. i believed him and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back. because i am now happy with my wife. Thanks for helping me Dr Akhere contact him on email:

    i am ERIC BRUNT by name. Greetings to every one that is reading this testimony. I have been rejected by my wife after three(3) years of marriage just because another Man had a spell on her and she left me and the kid to suffer. one day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how this spell caster on this address have help a woman to get back her husband and i gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a man had a spell on my wife and he told me that he will help me and after 3 days that i will have my wife back. i believed him and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back. because i am now happy with my wife. Thanks for helping me Dr Akhere contact him on email: