|Just like Showaddywaddy under the moon of love.|
So it must have been important. Why? Because Havant & Waterlooville had to win to avoid relegation to the Southern League. Never relegated in their fourteen years of joint existence, the shame in the twin towns of 'Avant and 'Looville would have been immense. A summer of tear-stained misery awaited, trying to work out where on earth Barwell and Arlesey are. A point above Maidenhead, and two above Hampton & Richmond at kick-off, it also happened that a draw might have been enough if their rivals failed to win (and Hampton would also have had to win by six clear goals away from home to overtake them). But a win would make absolutely sure that summer 2012 would be a happy one.
It had rained all week, but the day of the match was merely drizzly. However, the groundsman - with his fork and his curious roller-with-squeegee-attachment - was still the busiest man in the ground before kick-off. With the visitors being the pond-loving Swans (the Staines Town version, rather than the more well-known Swansea City this time), it was crucial to remove as much surface water as possible, and he did a grand job.
It was a riveting match. Staines scored twice in the first half, but so did the Hawks. The home team also hit the bar and missed a penalty. With Maidenhead beating local rivals Eastleigh at half-time, Havant & Waterlooville were heading downwards. But they had battled for every ball - they may not have won the school prize for achievement this term, but every time I've seen them, they've been a shoo-in for the £5 book token for hardest triers.
There was hope a-plenty going into the second half. Havant had swarmed around the Staines goal like hungry nuthatches around a bird feeder full of Buggy Nibbles for the entire first half, and when a Staines defender was sent off ten minutes in to the second, the hope became overwhelming. At this point in the match, Maidenhead were losing 3-2 to Eastleigh, so the Hawks were staying up with a draw.
Nobody bites fingernails any more. Instead, fingers are used to caress the internet-connected pocket gadgets which have replaced transistor radios at football. These gadgets are the bringers of glee one minute, and despair the next. With 900+ people fidgeting, hopping from one foot to the other, nervously eating chips or tapping away at their phones, the last minute of injury time arrived without any further goals. It was at this point that the twitterers in the crowd let it be known that Maidenhead had scored in the last minute of their match to win 4-3. All hope had been sucked out like Harry Potter having a bad day with a dementor. The Hawks were on their way to Arlesey Town next season...
...and then Joe Dolan broke the back of the net with a screamer from ten yards. Or at least, it felt like a screamer, as that's what happened next...screaming, yelling, boisterous, bundling pandemonium. Pompey fans will remember the feeling when Darren Anderton scored in the FA Cup semi-final in 1992 with seven minutes to go - this was the same.
John Peel once said that he had to listen to forty or fifty records before he came across one that gave him the shivers. This season, Hawks fans have had to suffer the football equivalent of forty-odd Olly Murs and Nicki Minaj tunes. The last kick of this match was New Rose, Teenage Kicks and God Save The Queen all coming along at once. A once in a lifetime proper PUNK ROCK moment.
The match video is here. The match report from The News is here. From the Hawks' unofficial site here. From the blog formerly known as Dub Steps here. From Ade Oakley's blog here. A photo of the winning goal here.
|A roller with a squeegee attachment was used at Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday.|
|It rained this week.|
|Christian Nanetti waits to take a penalty.|
|The linos needed long studs at Westleigh Park.|
|Goalmouth action minutes from the end.|
|The muddy Hawks heroes clap the fans.|
|More than one side of A4 needed for this five star match report!|