Aug 22nd Leek Town 3 Mickleover Sports 2 HT: 3-2 ATT: 229
Unibond League South
Aug 25th Leek Town 5 Brigg Town 1 HT: 3-0 ATT: 216
Unibond League One South
Mickleover Sports was my first home game as a Leek Town fan. If I wasn’t already addicted on the Saturday, then I certainly was on the following Tuesday at home to Brigg. It wasn’t just the high scoring wins; it was the old routine of being a fan of one club, the familiarity, the same faces, stands and pubs beforehand. The willing of your team to win, rather than the polite attendance of a couple of random ones. It reminded me of days at the Goldstone Ground in the eighties, when I went to every home game.
The Saturday against new boys Mickleover Sports (form the Northern Counties East League) was a good enough start. Trailing 1-0 to a well taken free-kick, they proceeded to score three in 10 minutes to completely turn the game around. Their attacking strength was awesome. Making good use of wingers they looked capable of scoring every time they went up field. Much like the Brighton team of 90-91, conceding goals was not so devastating for the supporter, such was the confidence in attack. In fact the pattern of the first half was very reminiscent of an early season game against Portsmouth that season.
Mickleover got one back before the break, a beautifully taken goal, stolen from the defence and hooked past Steve Hodgson in the Leek goal. The quality was high. After a five-goal first half it was slightly disappointing that the score remained the same at the end; but nonetheless a good all round performance enjoyed by not just me, but my two boys, 6 and 5, young Town fans in the making.
[I must clarify that I haven’t completely turned my back on Brighton. I still regard myself as a Brighton fan. I have turned my back on the league and its expensive homogenously bland tastes. The fact that Brighton are my team is unchangeable like ones parentage; it’s just that I have chosen now to watch a team in a division that better reflects what I believe football to be all about, and indeed what the FA did before the 30 pieces of silver known as The Premier League. Fundamentally it is a league I can afford and get value for money.]
By the Tuesday evening I felt like I’d been a Harrison Park regular for years. Admittedly, the 5-1 scoreline probably helped but it was kind of like coming home, in a displaced sort of way. The main stand at Leek, a relatively large structure with 500 odd seats, could’ve been the old West Stand at the Goldstone and standing behind the goal at the Macclesfield Road end was like the old days in the North Stand, albeit on a smaller scale.
The traditional football ground smells were all accentuated; the bovril, sweat, cigarette smoke, flatulence and pasties. The sounds of boot on leather, the cries of the fans all sharpened. There was nothing much different here than any other football game of a similar level that night, but because I was a Leek fan now, my senses were more alert, my body and soul was receptive; even the sallow light from the floods and the evening air seemed to pass through me, rather than around me. I was part of football again.
I went to the Tuesday game with Tom, a disillusioned Darlington fan, who is adopting Leek Town with me, too. In fact, it was his idea in the first place. Leek murdered Brigg Town. The attacking combination of Cope, Ashman, Corden, Brannan and Miller was too much for Brigg, and they were 3 down before the break, including a delightful twenty yard shot into the top corner from the league-wizened and still very skilful Wayne Corden.
Two late goals gave the scoreline a fairer look and sent the Leek town faithful home very happy. The whole experience, compared to just watching any old game, can best be described as the difference between passive smoking and smoking. This was the full nicotine high. This was the full inhalation of football, unfiltered and with a high tar content. If this game didn’t get me (and I’m sure Tom too) addicted, then nothing would.
And the fact is that in our first season, after five games, unbelievably:
We… are… top of the league
I said we are top of the league