Three Friday nights without a game and I was starting to get a few withdrawal symptoms. The break in fixtures couldn't have came at a worse time either. The summer break last year wasn't too bad as the World Cup was in full-flow. This year though it's a different story. Just as a Friday evening has now come to mean football night for me, so too does it now constitute Big Brother night for my other half! Another night of Davina McCall and her merry band of w*****s and I would have been heading for the edge of the balcony.
The game against Drogheda last Friday night therefore came as an absolute godsend! Bohs can quite often be hard to watch, but even a 5-0 defeat would have been more enjoyable than the alternative at home.
For a while during the week leading up to the game it looked fairly certain that I wouldn't be able to get to the game in Drogheda due to the small number of tickets that Bohs had been given. This was apparently due to United Park having its capacity reduced because of safety issues. All week I kept an eye on the official site looking for details of if and when tickets were going on general sale. In the end i got the news i was hoping for on the Bohs message board (not for the first time) on Wednesday night... there were tickets on sale to non-members from Dalymount at 9.30am the next day. So, by a quarter to ten on Thursday, having dragged myself out of bed a little earlier than usual, I made my way to work in high spirits, with a ticket in my back pocket.
Although i was delighted to get one, i felt the whole situation could have been handled a little better by the club. One thing I couldn't understand was why the unofficial message board was used to keep fans updated on the ticket situation rather than the official site. At any other club, the website is always the first port of call, however, the Bohemians one seems to be totally under utilised.
Although i was working until six on the night of the match, getting up to Drogheda in time for kick-off looked to be pretty easy - take the M50 and then the M1 all the way up. A late train home from work to pick up the car though and my plans were scuppered. When I finally set off just minutes before seven o'clock, it was clear the speed limit was going to have to be abused. By the point the road signs were saying I was less than 30km away I'd made up decent time and looked like I'd make it just in time. The next thing you know though the red light pops on and I'm having to make a detour to Balbriggan to get petrol as the other half had drained the tank ( i tell you what, between Big Brother and this she's on her last legs!!).
Despite taking a bit of a shortcut through Julianstown, by the time i got to the "Welcome to Drogheda" signs it was almost eight o'clock. Because i'd taken a different route to that planned I had came into Drogheda a different way and now had no idea where there stadium was (you can tell this trip was well planned out). Thankfully i wasn't the only one who was late though and, while i was sitting bewildered at a set of traffic lights, i spotted a couple of girls in Drogheda shirts walking up the road in front of me. Sure enough, they led me almost straight to the ground. With the game already about 25 minutes old i abandoned the car in a nearby hospital car park and legged it round to the ground. As soon as i was in though, it seemed as though i had missed nothing.
The friendly steward manning the turnstiles told me that it was still scoreless, while a Bohs fan walking out to the toilets expanded a little more... "you've missed nothin'... f*****g brutal".
Regardless, she was still getting it when i got home. Did i mention that she works next to a petrol station?
The stand in which the Bohs fans were located looked fairly packed so i just took up a spot down at the front. The view wasn't the best, but after the mad rush I'd just had, i wasn't about to complain (picture left shows my position). The game itself seemed to be fairly lively. I'd read alot about Drogheda having the biggest and most expensive squad in the league, but Bohs looked as if they were more than a match for them. Darren Mansaram and Owen Heary both went close for us, but the teams went in scoreless at half time.
After the break, there was still very little between the sides. It looked fairly certain that the first goal was going to be crucial. Thankfully, that first goal went to Bohs. Glen Crowe swung in a dipping cross that somehow found its way to Mansaram in the six yard box who managed to prod the ball home from six yards. This brought the away fans alive.
On the journey up i had been thinking that a great atmosphere was likely at this one. The reduced capacity had ensured the game was a sell out and i felt the clamour for tickets amongst the Bohs fans would have put everyone on a high. As the second half progressed this came to fruition too and, despite a little nervousness towards the end, the singing was almost constant until the final whistle (and after!). As is still normal at games, a few of the songs being sung were new to me. One in particular stuck in my head. Something about not wanting to go home and this being the best trip "we've" ever been on.
Having drawn first blood, Bohs seemed content to sit on their lead for the remainder of the game. It was a plan that worked too. Drogheda enjoyed the majority of possession and had the odd half chance, but by the time the whistle went for full-time, nobody could have denied that Bohs were well worth the victory and a place in the last sixteen.
The win was massive for Bohs. Not only did it keep us in the FAI Cup and mean that we are still challenging for all three trophies, but it also showed that we are more than capable of holding our own against the best teams in the league. The remainder of the season promises to be very interesting indeed.
As for me, well, the drive home was alot less eventful than the one up and i was back home extolling the joys of a full tank of petrol by half past ten.
Thankfully the games are coming thick and fast over the next few weeks. Next up for me, is the home game against Waterford United on Monday night (domestic abuse charge pending).
For a full report on the Drogheda game click here.