Firstly, Steal park actually sits on Rockingham Road. Ok, it is distinctly the Rockingham end of Rockingham Road, but still.... Entering the social club you stumble across the usual collection of bluff, uncouth, bumbling bumpkins, dotted with the odd volunteer, Klondike seller and erudite blogger. Why, there's also bars on the windows, just like at Rocky Road. I fear though that these are less to do with a poorly aimed ball hitting the window, than encouraging the locals, should they feel the urge to get into the stadium, to consider using the turnstile. Elgoods ales were also for sale under the benevolent eye and very occasional patronage of Sphericals.
The game itself was especially tailored to remind us all of the more painful Poppies experiences. A lot of huffing and puffing and no end result must have made the returning fans feel right at home. It was good of Doyle and the team to put away their recent flowing, one-touch exciting football in favour of yesterday's performance, just to allow the returnees to acclimatise.
The referee also deserves praise for throwing in a shocking penalty decision to allow the supporters to rant and rave at the officials, just as we used to do in the good old days! As we all know, nothing gets the average Poppies fan onto his hind legs and howling faster than an unjust refereeing decision. A five nil win will coax polite applause from us. A once-in-a-lifetime wondergoal would wring a little cheer out of us. A last minute winning goal for us against Barcelona, with Messi and Iniesta trailing in Joel's wake would probably just about get us to whoop a bit. But one dodgy decision and even the most jaded Poppy becomes a rabidly foaming, shrieking banshee of unbridled passion!
Even Radio Northampton tried to help make the weekend a complete old-school Poppies experience by accurately letting the County know that whilst we were losing to 3rd placed (!) Stourport, Corby had won away at Stourbridge.
Whilst nothing will replace the genuine Rockingham Road experience, Steal Park is still ten thousands times better that the soulless, bland money pit awaiting us by the swollen Nene should Imraan ever sort out