Friday, March 19, 2010

What a day - Through Thick and Thin

Source: Durham Times

10:17am Friday 19th March 2010

By Danny Williamson »

AS we stepped on to the bus, Shippy and I knew it would be a good day. The bus was full of Durham supporters, more than usual, all hopeful of seeing us take our first points.

The ball boys, who had said they'd been working on songs for this game, had all shown up - and I had the face paint with me.

We got painted up and by the time the bus pulled up in front of the ground at Bury we all looked like extras from Braveheart. No sooner had we stepped off the bus than we were being greeted by some of the FCUM faithful and shaking hands.

After sharing some drinks with their supporters, we headed into the away section. There we were, the fans of Durham City at a Football League ground, among 2,167 fans, faces painted and singing songs.

The ball boys had gone to town with new chants. Shippy and I, as well as some of the older faithful were joining in and we were making quite a bit of noise. It made for a terrific atmosphere.

We started brightly but when FC went 1-0 up fairly early in the game, I admit I feared the usual. Boy, was I wrong.

Midway through the first half, the ball came to our captain, Andrew Stephenson, 45 yards out. He looked up, saw the keeper off his line, and lobbed him. We went crazy. One of the best goals I've ever seen at a football match, and we were level.

We ran down the steps waving scarves and going nuts.

By half-time we were dreaming. This could be our day. Not long into the second half, I had to pinch myself as the referee awarded us a penalty and Elliott Cutts put it away. The score board said FC United 1 Durham City 2.

Then came the longest 40 minutes of my life. We'd survived 10 and they were awarded a penalty. Rhys saved it! We celebrated that more than the goal.

As the minutes ticked by agonisingly slowly, FC missed chance after chance and Rhys kept us in front. I couldn't watch, it was unbearable. Four minutes of injury time felt like four hours. Then, the whistle, we'd done it. We celebrated more than when we won the league. Euphoria!

After screaming ourselves hoarse, the team left the field and we left the ground. As we walked down the steps into the car park, 2,000 FC United fans gave us, the Durham fans, a round of applause. They really showed some class in doing that, and I lost count of the number of people who shook my hand and congratulated us.

All of the defeats and everything that had happened to us this season evaporated in that wonderful Hollywood moment on the steps of Bury FC football ground. I will never, ever, forget it.

Yes Durham!