COLCHESTER United, who we visited on Saturday, are a team who we have close links as they were the team we played at Belle Vue in our last game before the drop into the Conference in the late 90s.
Since then they too have dropped out of the Football league but have since returned and won promotion to League One and now have a spanking brand new ground.
That fact created more interest than normal amongst the Rovers fans as the majority had not ticked the new ground off their list of grounds they had visited.
All the coaches set off full and we eventually arrived at the Weston Homes Community Stadium just before 1pm.
It was like the ground had been dumped in the wilderness, with only a petrol station to keep it company. It was miles from the town centre, with no amenities and only the closeness of the A12 made its position more understandable.
But most Rovers fans will have been surprised at the welcome we received from our hosts - a gazebo and a portable bar made a good watering hole.
A local band, made up of teenagers, then got the party spirit going by playing some good music which went on for over an hour. Our own drummer boy, Ryan Kisby, even got up and joined in the vocals.
The atmosphere in the stadium wasn’t too bad, but it was a good job the 440 Rovers’ fans kept the samba beat going, giving the team fantastic backing throughout.
Rovers got off to a great start with David Cotterill scoring with a cracking 25-yarder to give us the lead on the three minutes. The lad certainly doesn’t score simple goals.
We then sat back, and the Us equalised, the ball coming off both posts.
But early in the second half, Rovers got the winner when Bond headed into his own goal under no pressure and it was another three points in the bag.
I felt sorry for former England keeper Peter Shilton, who as the guest of United, made the half time draw only for the water sprinklers to come on an soak him. Honestly, we didn’t laugh.
The win stirred the natives into travelling the much shorter distance to Bramall Lane on Tuesday night when near on 1,500 made the trip.
We had two early chances to take the lead, but the Blades keeper made two great saves.
I would have taken a point before the kick-off, but thanks to our rearguard, in which Jonesy and Gary Woods stood out, we blunted the Blades in what was an easily forgettable game,
We’ve got a big game against second-placed Stevenage tomorrow - a team we had some good battles with in the Conference, and it won’t be easy. But we have players who hate to lose, so hopefully we will just edge it.
Then Wednesday night‘s trip to Norfolk to play Premier League Norwich in the Capital One Cup is also a game I feel is winnable.
Manager Dean Saunders and chief executive Gavin Baldwin attended the Retford Supporters’ Club AGM last Thursday and and chatted on for well over the hour.
Dean’s passion for football certainly shone through and he told how George Friend had forfeited a bonus to help the club’s financial situation, and how he had phoned to apologise for leaving. Dean also spoke of his his belief in the youth policy, and how he had been rejected as an 18-year-old at Swansea.
Gavin spoke about what life had in store now that Rovers have taken over the running of the Keepmoat Stadium including the ticket pricing policy.
Coaches to Norwich depart Retford 2pm and pick-up en-route at Harworth 2.10, Rossington 2.25, Infirmary 2.30 and Keepmoat 2.45pm.
Don’t leave it until the last minute to book, call Paul on 07961-727769 or Len on 01302-817347.