I couldn’t resist the temptation. The incessant drizzle and the seductive charms of Arsenal v. Ipswich on live TV could not compete with fifty years of sweet pain, not to mention that I was not prepared to squander the £20 on the ticket I had purchased for the original fixture.
And what was my sacrifice in comparison to the hundred doughty Derbyshire souls who had made the 300 mile round trip on a wet January night? That said, the joyously performed conga in the rain by four young, bare-chested fans shortly after Chesterfield’s first goal was going a little too far. The more sensible of their congregation huddled under large umbrellas, only showing signs of life when Chesterfield scored the two goals by which they won the game.
The atmosphere was curiously flat, given the elevated league position of both teams. Whilst moaning was rife and one home player was inevitably made the scapegoat for everyone’s mistakes, I only heard the occasional swear word, and the boos that greeted defeat were pleasingly muted. After all, the team played very well, particularly in the first half, inducing the Chesterfield manager to acknowledge that Gillingham was the best side they had played all season.
I enjoyed the game but did not always feel fully engaged with it, something to do with that lack of atmosphere. Perhaps some of the gloss has really gone.
So will I go again some time soon? I don’t think I will be rushing to buy another ticket, though I will remain as anxious to know how the team is doing, and crave the best for them, for a long time yet.