October 2, 2005
The overall population of Gasheads in the world has now increased by one. Son David and myself have previously crossed the border in support of the Gas. Typically we have done so while suffering the cramped confines of an overnight bus. Yet maybe the word ‘suffering’ is inappropriate. The discomfort does tend to recede at the thought of what awaits at the journey’s end. Carlisle is a different proposition, being roughly one hundred miles from the Ayrshire village of Monkton. (Albeit that our return journey in 2003 produced a story, which looked to be drawn from the realms of fiction). Dad’s Mondeo or David’s Saxo? That was the choice for the Carlisle 2005 expedition. Dad caved into pressure to take the Saxo. Jill was all right with that. She was happy to go in her brother’s car. In fact she would have been happy with any suggestion, which did not involve public transport. A new Gashead was born.
The citizens of Carlisle had advance warning that the Scottish Gasheads were approaching. That warning manifested itself by way of a large exhaust and an overloud music system. Sorry, did I just mention ‘music’? It is doubtful whether a Court of Enquiry would conclude that this particular noise could be defined as music. Had we been traveling to the ‘Mem’ it would have been tempting to bale out and hitchhike the rest. It was a merciful release when the ignition was turned off in the car park at Carlisle Rugby Club. [image2]
Our arrival at CRFC coincided with the arrival of Oldham Rugby Club. After maneuvering into a space, David decided to reverse in order to straighten it up. By this time someone had deposited a kit bag behind the car. Had it not been for anxious shouts, Oldham RFC might have had the best-ironed rugby kit in the world. Why don’t people listen to the advice given by their mothers? “Don’t walk between parked cars!” “Don’t stand behind a horse!” “Don’t put your rugby kit behind a Saxo!”
The heaviness of David’s accelerator foot ensured that we had enough time for a drink before entering the ground. Then, to our great joy, it was confirmed beyond doubt that the visiting fans would be housed on an open terracing. Terracing is the natural habitat of the Carmichaels. The turnstile attendant gave our money a funny look. Once through, we heard him utter something to a colleague about “those strange Scottish banknotes”.
New Gashead Jill has an exceptional memory for players’ appearances. During the warm-up she remarked that the goalkeeper was not Scott Shearer. On being corrected, she said that he was shaven-headed when with Albion Rovers. That correction was made by our friend Robin, (van der Gas) who had now joined us at our stance behind the goal. That stance was convenient to a crush barrier from which we were able to drape the ‘Scottish Gasheads’ flag. [image3]This famous flag has been photographed at Buckingham Palace (Leyton Orient away 2004-05) and the Clifton Suspension Bridge (York City home 2003-04).
We had a close vantage point for the early action. Alas, it was all too close and there were some fraught moments in the vicinity of Scott Shearer’s goal. One slip on a greasy surface caused that goal to be breached and Carlisle continued to pile forward in vain pursuit of another. To remain 1-0 down at an advanced stage was a tad worrying. Then it all turned round in an almost comical fashion. I have a morbid fascination with own goals. Morbid to the extent of having compiled statistics on them. To witness two within a matter of minutes was a rare experience. Enhancing the experience was a vantage point, which permitted a close view of the anguish etched on the faces of the goalkeeper and his fellow defenders. Had Carlisle been playing a team other than the Gas, some sympathy would have been felt. It was either a mistake or, more likely, a cover-up when the stadium announcer credited Junior with the second one. [image4]
There was a concern about whether four minutes of stoppage time could be safely negotiated. Junior then dispelled all lingering doubt when bursting through to make it 3-1. Then it was home to tea after a handshake with Robin. Well, it was home to tea for us. This was one day when the Scottish Gasheads could not be boastful about distance. Neither could we be boastful about being the only Scottish Gasheads. On the way out we spotted the two lads from Falkirk whom we had met at Carlisle in 2003.
This story should be useful insofar as you will now know not to put your rugby kit behind a Saxo but please also remember another piece of advice, which you would have been given as a child.
Be careful not to turn a fast low ball past your own goalkeeper. .