Autumn and just over four hundred fans have made the twenty-mile trip down the North Sea coast to Bridlington, where Scarborough Athletic, now into their fourth season of out-of-town groundsharing, are hosting the blue and white hoops of Hall Road Rangers. Brief snatches of sunshine turn into rain, and after making our way through the turnstile we head straight back indoors to the bar.
The teams kick off in a gusty wind, sloshing the head off my pint as I stand with my back to a portakabin. A St John's Ambulance medic reclines in a caravan, watching the game through a window, and the impressive main stand, three-quarter seated and spanning the entire length of one side of the pitch, quickly begins to fill. There's a rugby match on a neighbouring pitch, a breezeblock stand turning its back to the football. "Come on Boro," someone shouts, but the atmosphere's surprisingly muted and most of the voices I hear are ordering chips and curry.
Hall Road's up and under defending isn't helped by having the wind in their faces and their aimless forays over the halfway line are invariably ended by a misplaced pass or the linesman's flag. Scarborough take the lead with a corner kick that swirls up and into the corner of the net, leaving the unfortunate goalkeeper clutching at nothing. A second goal follows before half-time, but try as they might Scarborough's forwards can't find another way past the keeper's fingertips until a tap-in on the hour mark.
Three-up, Scarborough start to relax. A mix-up in defence allows Hall Road to score in absolute silence, answering a question we've just asked about the number of away fans in the ground. Things are a lot noisier in the final minute, when a header's blocked on the line and the rebound's bundled in. The crowd return to their cars and start the journey home. Hopefully, it won't be much longer before their football club can finally do the same.
Date: 25th September 2010