Memories of 2011: Brammer bitten by the Braintree bug
ON handing my notice in to previous employers, it suddenly dawned on me that I would be giving away 23 or so away trips with my colleague and our BBC friends, watching Lincoln City around the country.
Well make that 22. My then-boss, a dyed-in-the-wool Essex boy, had already called shotgun on the Braintree Town fixture as it would be a good chance to see his family and go out on the boat fishing with his dad.
Fair enough. My boss and the paper’s Lincoln City writer were going to make a weekend of it with the Imps’ clash at the Amlin Stadium the icing on the cake.
Our trips last season had often resembled ‘jolly boys’ outings’ with the banter flying and local hostelries making a good profit from our attendance.
It would be no different at Braintree, apart from perhaps the restaurant being replaced by the prospect of freshly-cooked fish.
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When the fixture list came out, we highlighted Braintree as perhaps the most unfashionable team in the division and soon after, their own fans started chanting “we’re just a pub team in Essex”.
But I had a feeling there would be more to it and despite their self-deprecating tendencies, the “pub team from Essex” would not be the pushover everyone expected – you only had to look at the FA Cup shocks that non-league clubs had produced down the years.
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I knew they would give Lincoln, on a downer after recent relegation, a tough time.
Imagine my surprise then, when the fixture list drew up the most ironic of fixtures – Braintree Town hosting Lincoln City on my first day in my new job at the EADT, September 3.
A chance to meet recently-departed friends, a chance to see how far the mighty Imps had fallen and a chance to discover more about the team in luminous orange shirts and blue shorts – the Iron.
The ground was bustling and I was made to feel at home right away by the people at the club.
All of a sudden, I was in the thick of it, trying to work out my Sean Marks from my Ben Wrights, Kenny Davis from Nick Symons etc...
The game was live on television which gave it that extra spice and the Iron had a chance to build on their stunning 5-0 home victory over former Football League side, Grimsby, a month earlier.
Surely that was a fluke? Surely the excitement of the first few weeks would have petered out and the Iron would not be able to replicate that score?
As it was, a single goal sealed it but after a single 90 minutes, I had caught the Braintree bug.
The goal was spectacular, Andy Yiadom firing in from 20 yards and the atmosphere was electric as the Imps, as I had seen so many times last season, went away with their tails between their legs.
They could have no excuses. They were beaten by the better team – something that several other sides would have to deal with as Town soon embarked on an amazing run that culminated in a six-match winning streak and second place in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
You could say that we both arrived that night but, as I suspected, that was not the case for Alan Devonshire’s men.
They had been comfortable and settled in their surroundings since day one!