From the Terraces: Travelling fans' trip to Barnet FC turns into the dampest of damp squibs

Harrogate Town supporter Dave Worton’s weekly fan column.
Harrogate Town striker Jon Stead battles for possession during Tuesday night's National League clash with Barnet. Picture: Matt KirkhamHarrogate Town striker Jon Stead battles for possession during Tuesday night's National League clash with Barnet. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town striker Jon Stead battles for possession during Tuesday night's National League clash with Barnet. Picture: Matt Kirkham

There’s an ancient saying in our house that goes something like ‘Now you’ve put the Worton curse on it’.

This ‘Worton curse’ started many years ago, when I developed the habit of inadvertently predicting somewhere would be closed, or something would be sold out, long before we got there to visit such place or purchase said item, thus rendering the entire journey a waste of time.

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It got so bad that my wife forbade me from uttering phrases such as “I bet it’ll be out of stock” before we set off, for fear of inviting the worst.

So, I instinctively knew the Barnet match on Tuesday night was doomed the moment that BBC Radio York commentator Barry Parker uttered the immortal words “If the rain continues like this it will not finish,” barely six minutes into the first half.

It appears that Barry also has the gift of the curse.

With Town still in the FA Trophy, the potential is there for a minor fixture pile-up towards the end of the season, so I initially welcomed the decision to reschedule the match so quickly after Saturday’s postponement.

That is, until I saw the saturated state of the Barnet pitch in a supporter’s post the following day.

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Now, with the benefit of hindsight, it was always a risky decision and, ultimately the wrong one, as the match was halted at half-time with the scores locked at 1-1.

Spare a thought for the Town supporters who took the afternoon off work to travel down to North London.

With the coach from Saturday cancelled, 14 fans squeezed into a minibus kindly loaned by the club.

They set off in good time at 3pm, only to arrive at the ground five minutes late due to a closure of the A1.

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On arrival, they had to queue for five minutes in the pouring rain at the ticket office to get in.

They were due back in Harrogate at 1.30am, having witnessed barely 35 minutes of football, missing George Thomson’s first-minute ‘goal’ in the process.

I couldn’t travel on the Saturday, but I’m on holiday from work this week.

Not being in the know, I’d assumed there was no organised transport down to Barnet and so continued with business as usual, safe in the knowledge there was no way I could get there and back in one day.

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Business as usual consisted of my wife and I going to Guiseley to pick up some picture frames, to Kirsktall to buy chips from our favourite chippy, to Headingley to visit an antique centre and to Tesco in Seacroft (oh joy) to pick up some school shirts for Molly.

If only Harrogate had a Tesco.

To cut a long story short, the picture frames had been discontinued, the chip shop was shuttered up and the antique centre didn’t open on Tuesdays.

Unfortunately, Tesco was open, shirts in stock, thus rendering the day slightly less pointless.

For once though, I’d not foreseen any of this coming. I must be losing my powers.

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Fortunately, my wasted day involved me travelling no further than the north side of Leeds.

Thank goodness I hadn’t gotten wind of the minibus and tried to get a place on it. I feel I dodged a bullet in that respect.

Continuing on the subject of fruitless journeys, the masochist in me switched over to BBC Radio Cumbria at half-time, hoping that lightning would strike twice and Dover Athletic would do us another favour at Barrow, following their victory over the league leaders last month.

It didn’t and neither did they.

It turns out, though, that the commentating team had a sweepstake on the number of visiting fans. The winner predicted 13. There were 10.

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Can there be a longer journey to watch a football match on a Tuesday night than that this season?

Staying firmly on the issue of travel, this week has seen the rescheduling of our match at Solihull Moors from Saturday afternoon to the preceding Friday night.

The home team are trying to “maximise the potential for bigger crowds” – their words not mine, and the original date clashed with West Brom v Birmingham City and Aston Villa v Chelsea.

I can understand Solihull’s motives, but the surprise for me is that Town agreed to the move, especially bearing in mind the problems that their own supporters will likely have getting down there in the Friday afternoon rush hour.

That’s if they can get the time off work again.