It’s cold, my body is turning itself into a perfectly formed icicle and I’m a good few feet above the ground having had to do the 200m dash just to get into a good place to stand: this isn’t a body endurance test, this is the trials and tribulations of a Matlock Town fan.
For those who don’t know me, which I’m guessing is quite a lot of people, my name is James Griffiths and I am a 21-year-old guy who has watched Matlock Town since I was five years old.
The love of the club has trickled down through the generations until it finally reached me, and to carry on the sports metaphor, I picked up that baton and ran with it.
I ran so far that I ended up creating MTFC TV, a video highlights package from Matlock Town’s home games which now holds over 17,000 views, and boasts a bizarre but brilliant following in Florida, USA.
But that’s enough about who I am. Now back to the cold and its place of origin would be Grantham Town FC’s ground - a mere one hour and 15 minute drive by car to watch football on a Tuesday night, sneering at the fact there is Champions League football on the telly, and thinking to myself: “Ha! I’m going to watch real football.”
And that it was, meaty challenges, bizarre goals and a game that saw Matlock take the lead at half time thanks to a defender slipping and doing some NBA style dribbling with the ball, and then Lewis McMahon, who may be part of my favourite footballing stat – he hasn’t missed a penalty kick in five years!
And my word he didn’t disappoint as he thumped his effort into the top right hand corner, much to the applause of the travelling Matlock fans.
Grantham would come back into it during the second half to equalise and then take the lead thanks to an incredibly lucky goal which fooled Matlock Town custodian Jon Kennedy which, trust me, is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Our ex-Sunderland man is one of the best at what he does in non league football.
The score was now 3-2 and my head was firmly placed in my hands - partly because I had gloves on, and using them to cover my face was keeping my nose slightly warm, and partly because I couldn’t believe that after all the hard work that we put in, we were somehow behind!
Suddenly Matlock’s former Sheffield United left back Phil Roe burst down the wing and curled a beautiful cross into the area towards Lee Ellington, now Lee or Duke as he is known, (a nickname coming from Duke Ellington) hasn’t had the best of times.
In fact, he’d gone eight games without a goal, and had been put on the transfer list.
But the moment was right. He leapt from his feet like a grizzly that’s seen a bear trap, and he bulleted a header home to the shock of the home crowd, and to the delight of the away following. He’d made it 3-3!
The game gradually petered out and the referee blew up. Two points dropped was the general opinion, but these are the nights I live for.
Sure, it wasn’t the best ground in the world. No, the scoreline wasn’t what I wanted, but these are the games that show Matlock Town for the club it really is.
Fans getting behind the team when the chips are down, even in the cold. Even when the beer has run dry. Fans singing their hearts out and backing the lads no matter what. And that’s why if you’ve never tried attending a Matlock Town game, then I can guarantee it’s the most enjoyment you’ll get out of an afternoon in a very long time.
And if you ever do pop along, and by chance you’ve read my new column, then come and say hello!
I’ll be the bloke with the big tripod in all weathers capturing the moments and madness as the season goes on.
by James Griffiths
- Matlock Town fan ‘til I die!