A little excitement at King's Cross as the Tornado is steaming up as it prepares to take a trip up north. It may be a brand new loco but it still evokes my childhood years, watching the trains steam past my bedroom window.
A healthy showing of DAFTS personnel - John, Trevor and Brian were already ensconced by the time I arrived at the Quaker. Also present were Tony, Colin, Paul and Iain as well as fellow London exile, Steve Wilkinson with his buddy Paul Robinson.
|Ticket to ride for John|
This was more than enough to keep me happy for the lunchtime session and we decided to stay here rather than venture to Number Twenty-2.
We left just before 2pm to get the bus to Heritage Park and there was a sizeable queue when we arrived.
After some moving and shaking I got some grub and we settled on the grass bank as the game kicked off - there air was thick with tension as all but a few West fans were craving revenge, both for our defeat at their place and the raising of ticket prices for that game.
It had certainly transferred itself to the players as they got stuck in from the start and the first yellow was shown to a West player for barging into home keeper Bell.
The game was quite even for the first twenty minutes until Galbraith had put Darlo into the lead from a well-taken free kick, Dowson having been fouled outside the box.
Shortly after, a second yellow was issued to Stephenson for using his hands to stop the ball as Darlo looked to break free on goal. The crowd went wild as he walked off and those fans around the dug-outs laid into the West Auckland bench.
There were more bad tackles and another yellow issued to a West player - who could easily have been sent off for another offence seconds later - and clearly this had got to the West manager Dixon who was sent off for foul and abusive language just before half-time - presumably all directed at the young linesman on that side who stood his ground admirably.
Despite the one-man advantage Darlo didn't really make the most of the extra man and the chances they created and so it remained one-nil at the break.
|Darlo take an early lead|
West Auckland remained resolute early in the second half with Darlo old-boy John Campbell - predictably drawing plenty of stick from Darlo fans who'd never really taken to him - being their main threat. For their part the Darlo defence kept Auckland at arm's length whilst our forwards wasted several opportunities to extend the lead, West keeper Atkinson acrobatically tipping a shot from Gott onto the bar.
Finally though the resistance was broken and Darlo doubled their lead when Galbraith unleashed a rocket which gave Atkinson no hope. Finally Darlo fans could start to relax a little with just over ten minutes remaining.
But any thoughts that the game might peter out were wide of the mark as West clearly felt the pressure from the crowd. John Campbell was sent off for something he said to the referee and then his team-mate Vipond - on the touchline after being subbed - was shown a yellow card for dissent, earning a full red after an earlier yellow card.
This game just kept on giving and I almost felt sorry for the West Auckland fans close to their dugout. But no, they were as nasty a bunch as their team and they were due all the stick they got.
|The busiest man on the pitch|
Apparently the three red cards brought West's total for the season to 14 - it isn't hard to see why with the sort of attitude that emanated from their manager and which was taken up heartily by his players.
The celebrations afterwards from the majority of the almost 1,800 crowd were joyous as we knew this the sternest of our remaining games although they come thick and fast next week.
Paul had ordered a taxi for our trip back to Darlo so that he and Iain could be sure we'd make our connections. We did and with plenty of time to spare.
On the train back we got chatting to some women from Northallerton who knew my sister and who'd be getting an old CAMRA chap from Hereford all excited. He settled down as they got off and talked beer and pubs until he left us at York.
After all that excitement Martin and I both snoozed for the remainder of the journey back to London. Kings Cross was quite busy as Wigan fans were causing a nuisance. They had to travel back this way after the late kick-off of their FA Cup semi-final against Millwall meant there were no trains home from Euston.
It was this and the persistent rain that led me to go straight home and give the Euston Tap a miss for once.