Monday, May 09, 2016

Bring me sunshine - Morecambe v York a good day to end a rotten season

Michael Gibson, me and Kevin McGuinness
 For most football supporters, the end of any season has a strange mixture of emptiness, optimism and relief. 

Focus is rightly directed on the small number of teams still in the thick of a battle against relegation or promotion, or a title win, or it's been so dire the die was cast weeks ago. For most of us however, the season fizzled out a while ago. We're resigned therefore to watching a nothing game in the sunshine, reflecting on what might have been, but wondering what a better future might bring.

With this in mind, a few weeks ago I accepted an invitation to finally visit Morecambe FC's new home at the Globe Arena in preference to the last Rovers game of the season at home to Reading. As a Lancaster lad, I used to regard Morecambe as my local non-league team and went to a fair few games over the years. As a kid I even played on Christie Park once in a cubs tournament. In 1985, a few weeks into my first term at Manchester University, I hopped over to York to watch the Shrimps in an FA Cup first round clash with the Minstermen, their opponents this weekend.
Me and Jimmy Warwick

I'd only ever been to the Globe for the wake after Uncle Pete's funeral. We said then that we ought to come back for a game to honour the big man. I'm just sorry it's taken this long. Still, ground number 72 of the present 92 and 145 of the grand global total. I'll be losing West Ham and York this summer.

There's not much to say about the game, a 1-1 draw with some comedy finishing from both sides. It was great to be sat between Michael Gibson on one side, a Morecambe stalwart who gave me chapter and verse on the state of the club and the bad luck of the present season. On the other I had Phil Simpson, a York City supporter, lamenting the season and the circumstances leading up to his club finishing 92nd and heading back to the Conference, or National League, or whatever it's called. As Jim Bentley, Morecambe's manager, said at the end however disappointed the home fans are, there are 300 York fans here who'd swap places in an instant.

I'm sad to say that the ground is a bit of a missed opportunity. Too many executives boxes, the side opposite a neglected afterthought. Two low level terraces and some strange design quirks in the main stand - press area is very exposed, for one. On the positive, the pies are superb. The spread of food in our lounge was first rate for a football lunch. Too many grounds do a poor imitation of five star rubber chicken. I don't see the point. This was great though.

AC Milan line up against Hi Viz City
But bumping into two of my oldest friends Jim Warwick and Kevin McGuinness in the bar beforehand reminded me why I love the fellowship of football so much. So many memories, shared stories of days out, high jinks, scrapes and ordinary madness.

Here's to a summer of sunshine and hope. As they said 19 years ago. things can only get better. 

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