Saturday, May 8, 1982
Dad ran me on to Cardigan Park at half-one for Athletic's last match of the season. They only had to draw to go up. I met Robert & Carol inside.
Elmfield, in all yellow, kicked off towards the Easterby End and they had a small but noisy contingent of fans directly across from the Shed. Athletic started like they did against Cross End: poor tackling, no commitment, slack marking. Elmfield's fluent moves and slick one-touch stuff had us skinned. . . .
The second-half was much the same although Athletic attacked a bit more and had a few chances, but it was still the same frustrating brand of footie. Wild desperation from the fans. We were devastated when a blunder put Elmfield in front. We just couldn’t believe it! Robert was furious.
Now Athletic were being completely outplayed, out tackled and out thought. But Cross End were rumoured to be winning 2-1, then 4-1 and we wondered if the players knew for they seemed not to try. The chants changed from “We’re Going Up” to “We Are Up, We Are Up.” Going up by default. I was sick.
But with two minutes to go and all looking lost the United ‘keeper miskicked and hit Newlands full in the chest with a hollow thwock. He nearly fell over but stumbled forward after the ball, pursued by yellow defenders, and calmly lobbed it past the goalie’s left hand and into the net! Pitch invasion. Goldman was shirtless, someone had stolen it in the melee, but it was returned and the game restarted, half-hearted moves, long anxious clearances, then the final whistle.
I couldn’t resist and vaulted over the wall and ran across the pitch along with a few hundred others to mill self consciously about in the centre circle feeling at a loss. A huge chanting, cheering scarf waving crowd gathered in front of the club house, and the players came out onto the balcony looking disheveled and happy, carrying bottles which were sprayed over the chanting, cheering and singing crowds below. It was a fantastic moment.
We walked contentedly back to the car and got back to find Dad happy too, and feeling guilty he hadn’t gone.
In the evening he and Mum went out for a walk on Keddon Moor while Rob & Carol went into Easterby to celebrate. They came back drunk, their voices slurred and enthusiastic.