After a quiet journey on the two and a half hour coach trip to Birmingham, the M1 was eerily quiet, it all seemed to close to the Walsall trip for comfort so I found New Street station as quickly as possible and buggered off to Wellington.
A fiver each for the coaches and £6.90 return for the 50 minute rail journey, not a bad day's work as it was only booked the week before.
At the station we were greeted by twenty odd old bill, which was strange as there was only six Southend supporters I could spot on the train!
"We've heard there's going to be trouble so we'll here to escort you to the ground."
No way, so not wearing colours I slipped away smugly but found myself in Wellington High Street which was not on my map. Note to self for next trip to AFC Telford, you have to cross over the bloody bridge to get to the ground!
I saw the Southend six outside the Swan Hotel near the ground surrounded by six coppers! Very strange. Anyway, no chance of trying a pint there as planned so the Cock Hotel it was, and I'm far to tired to work something silly into this sentence.
It really did live up to it's five-star review. The locals just ask for a 1 or 6, there was a board with the numbers and name of the pints next to them, so you could go through the charts with ease. Hobson's Town Crier and it's Golden Ale were delicious and at around £2.60 a pint it was a shame when I noticed it was 2.45 and maybe I should leave for the ground which was 200 yards away and only £10 to get in, lovely. (With a smart bar, beer at £2.30 a pint, not to be sniffed at, even in a plastic glass.)
It has to be said after being subjected to the elements at Yeovil and Bristol this was one smart stadium for a club in the sixth tier, somewhere they wont be for long on the evidence of this game.
So Tilly gave Herd a go, and quite right too, but blew it by picking Grant ahead of Scannell, a strange decision which was either Tilly feeling it was his turn, Scannell wasn't up to it, or he wanted to play a more defensive looking team against a team three divisions lower. It certainly handed them the initiative that calmer finishing would have had us in trouble far earlier than we eventually were. As it was we could have been three up early into the second half, strange game and you can read about it here: www.thelittlegazette.com/news/loadnews.asp?cid=TMNW&id=416153.
For the away support, good turn-out, very vocal, there was the glory of a stoppage time equaliser by one of the Frenchman, the other having opened the scoring, and never has "your not singing anymore", been sung with such embarrassment. The side better up their game for the replay because this lot are no Oxford and Tilly could help by starting with two widemen, though a few Shrimpers might add that Betsy was hardly starting with one.
On the way out there were the boys in blue, or in this case yellow, telling us that various Telford crews were waiting for us and they would escort us to the station which I rather meekly accepted and waited, for five minutes, and nothing happened, and a 17.35 to be caught. Out came one guy: "Your fucking joking, we've been to Leeds and Millwall" and walked past poor plod as if he wasn't there. Maybe I was being a little cautious here, and followed him up the road along with several others leaving the sergeant's master plan in tatters. He looked in complete shock bless him.
As it happened there was a few 15 year olds in caps looking over the station wall but wisely deciding not to take on either the probably pissed off Shrimpers waiting on the platform or, what seemed, the entire West Mercia Constabulary! The overtime bill is going to be huge at the end of the month.
This was all taking place directly in front of me outside the Station Bar where time allowed for a horrible pint of Carling lager but at only £1.90 I'll live.
Train turned up in time, so did the coach, rain started to piss down, which made driving it not too easy. Especially when it broke suddenly when I was in the loo at the back where I was thrown back into the door with such force that it smashed open leaving some poor girl with a lot more value for her ticket that she expected when she started her journey. I was coolness personified as I went back in, locked the door again and completed what I has started. Sadly, I was in the very front seat which made for a very long journey back to it after all the drama.
Home was welcome just after ten.
Here's some marks and then Thurrock Blue takes over for a few days while the German and I get some R&R in Ireland. No, I'm not going to Tranmere early, though going to Liverpool the day after getting back from Dublin will seem fairly similar! Have a good week.
Mildenhall - 6; A nervous start, some awful distribution but also a couple of good grabs out of the air and diving saves. Needs more game time.
Francis - 5; Is so much out of form if we had a decent replacement would be dropped, saved by Tilly only having one alternative who makes everyone nervous.
Clarke - 6; Could have been a hero. (Ridiculous decision to cancel out his 'goal'.) Usual Clarkey mix of brave defending and terrible passing out of defence.
Barrett - 6; OK game, similar as above without the disallowed goal, or missed penalty.
Herd - 7; Courageous decision by Tilly rewarded with a fine full debut. After a horrible tackle on the edge of the box nearly gifted Telford the lead settled down well, hardly put a foot wrong, nice to see a full back defending. And what a throw, a real weapon.
Betsy - 5; Can't really give him a 4 as he didn't do enough to make any errors. Getting very worried about Mr. Betsy.
McCormack - 6; Still not there, behind the pace on occasions but argued with the ref like the Macca of old.
Christophe - 7; Hardest worker in the side, broke up attacks while starting his own. Fine strike to save the game for Southend.
Grant - 5; Floated around the pitch never really getting into the game. A few neat passes but not enough to justify his start over another wide player.
Revell - 5; I so want to love Alex but he makes it difficult with another ordinary performance like this one.
Laurent - 6; Not floating past defenders as he has been but did more than enough, scoring for one thing, to make the Lord, if not Dougie, concerned for their place when eventually one of them gets fit again.
SUBS: Scannell (Betsy - 71) - 6; Didn't do a 'Bristol' however looked lively, showed some skill and should have been given the starting nod over Snoop.
Walker (Grant - 85) - 5; Far too late as is the Tilly way, has obviously slotted down the pecking order.