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Monday, December 28, 2009

Nobes' Favourite Game

Our final look at the lads' favourite games involving their respective clubs looks at Nobes and the best Boston game he's seen.

Coca Cola League Two
Wrexham 3-1 Boston United
Valentine pen (56), Llewellyn (87), Proctor (90) - Green (39)
Saturday May 5 2007, Racecourse Ground, (Att: 12,374)

You have to wonder what possesses somebody to choose a game their team lost as their favourite. That's even more the case when it was also a game that ended with their team being relegated.

However, contrary to some people's opinion, the world doesn't implode, nor does it stop spinning on its axis when your team is relegated. In many ways, that was almost an irrelevance of the occasion.

First, some context. The Pilgrims were enduring huge financial problems, struggling to put any kind of team on the field of play, hardly training, and certainly not paying players who had remained remarkably loyal.

Somehow we took survival in the Football League down to the final game in what, more or less, was a straight winner-takes-it-all shoot-out between ourselves and Wrexham. Certainly the case was clear for us - win and survive, anything less and we were heading down.

I remember the day vididly - mostly because it was a lovely baking hot May afternoon. Travelling on the train from Preston I had to make a couple of changes and ended up meeting a nervous Wrexham fan at Warrington.

We ended up chatting over a drink and a bite to eat. I could tell he was petrified at the thought of his club dropping into Non League. I assured him that they wouldn't, that there was no way we were going to win. He didn't seem convinced.

However, on departing, we shook hands and wished one another well for the future. It was the kind of thing that makes the grassroots of English football special.

Perhaps I was so relaxed because I knew we were going to lose, and relegation didn't worry me. I was just proud of the fight we'd shown for the past few games.

Having met up
in Wrexham with a pal from back home, and sinked a quick pint in a jam-packed pub, we made our way up a hill to the ground.

It was at this point you could tell this was a big occasion with the activity around the ground. A 13,000 sell out, including over 700 from Lincolnshire. It felt like our small Fenland town was up against the whole of Wales on that day. On reflection, we were always onto a loser.

We got into the ground quite late, the away stand was packed and we had to make our way right to the very back to find seats. The place was a myriad of flags, balloons, and scarves - all black and amber. I actually felt pretty proud that so many had turned out for such a lost cause.

I picked this game mostly because it was such a vivid experience. The fans were in full voice, the colour, the emotion, and the heat which was - especially at the back of the stand - stifling.

As for the events on the pitch, I actually recall very little. It was very tight, tense, scrappy. You could tell there was a lot at stake - the SKY cameras were here, the BBC had done a preview that lunchtime on Football Focus. The whole country it seemed, for once, were interested in a game of ours.

We took a surprise lead just before the break, the unpopular, with me, Franny Green doing brilliantly to squeeze a shot in past the Wrexham keeper. I got a flurry of excited texts - they were believing. I might even have begun to for a few seconds.

Early in the second half though things began to go wrong - they won a penalty, a fair one, and converted it. We had to score or were going down. Our captain, Paul Ellender, blasted over with the goal gaping. That was our chance.

With the seconds slipping away, Wrexham got a second and then a third in stoppage time. That was it. The home fans invaded the pitch, the relief palpable. Little did they know it would be their turn to drop down a year later.

Most were very supportive though, recognising the fight we had taken to them. The United fans remained singing constantly for a full thirty minutes until the players came out - we wanted to thank them for their efforts.

It was like one of those funerals where people are happy rather than sombre. Perhaps relegation hadn't sunk in? It began to waiting at the train station on the way home. It had been an emotionally draining day, but that's why we love football - win, draw, or lose.

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