Images and captions kindly supplied by David Evans
Walsall Wood FC were at home to Coventry United yesterday afternoon (Saturday, 1st February 2020) for a game dedicated to the memory of club stalwart Ron Tranter whose passing has been deeply felt by all the club faithful.
Much to the chagrin of the faithful, they Woodmen were pipped in the last minutes of the match to a 2-1 defeat.
David Evans was there, and sent the following report:
Walsall Wood 1 v 2 Coventry United
Saturday 1st February 2020
This was to be a very memorable game for everyone. Visiting supporters, in fine form and well-lubricated, arrived in large numbers and were made welcome by the large number of home supporters. A cold, unfriendly biting wind straight from the Welsh mountains had thrust its way far above bleak Shropshire to drop over the stadium and smack corner flags and spectators’ faces in equal measure.
The players emerged from the warmth of the changing rooms to the bright sunshine, to assemble, respectfully, for a minute to the memory of Ron Tranter. Not a sound was heard. Silence. Total, respectful silence.
The game got under way and both sides, now composed and ready to give their very best – for different reasons, of course, but it was the home side that broke through the visitors defences first, and within a few moments.
The capricious blustery wind played an important and challenging part throughout today’s encounter. Bright, accurate play characterised the match in the early stages, with hard, meaningful challenges. This was not to be a friendly kick about game. Not today.
A new spring in Walsall Wood’s step brought positive comments by the home supporters and vocal critical comments by the visiting supporters at times, and yet they were fully behind every positive move their team accomplished. The large contingent of home junior team children joined in the choral appreciation, in their young, fearless and direct way.
The first half, and the close nature of the challenges, accurate passing, fine off the ball moves was enjoyed by everyone. The wind had a negative effect on the accuracy of some passes. The frequent stoppages and the need for a ball boy to leave the stadium to retrieve a ball, some less than elegant moments – perhaps from frustration as the delights of playing football on a heavy, real grass pitch – gave the 45 minutes a chameleon quality.
Half time brought respite from the wind, beefburgers for the hungry, a glass of home-made lemonade or a horn of Viking Ale for the thirsty, and the traditional cucmber sandwiches and Earl Grey tea for the players in the privacy of their boudoirs.
With the score at one goal to nil in favour of the home side play recommenced, after some moments’ delay. Both sides had employed a variety of moves and tactics in their first half. Now it was time to ring the changes, perhaps. Unlike the games played on artificial grass, which have their own features, here at Oak Park, a greater palette of skills is required.
Frustration, born of desire or determination changed some of those features. The match officials’ presence was required more. But, this was to be a physical, hard game throughout the whole match.
That was until at 73 minutes play, every single spectator around the pitch and in the stand, burst in to spontaneous applause… A moment I will never forget.
Play continued, although in a muted way, on the pitch. The applause rang out – and for that moment, time stood still in our hearts as every person there stood at attention and clapped til their hands were raw… All for Ron Tranter, a legend here at Walsall Wood Football Club.
Full respect and thanks, too, to all the visiting fans who shared this tribute.
Meanwhile the tempo of the football match had increased, the temperature had hotted up and spilled over when a home player was shown a red card, leaving the squad depleted for the final part of the game.
Coventry took full advantage and inevitably scored the winning goal in the dying moments of the full measure of extra time allowed by the hard worked referee.
Coventry deserved the win today, but, for me, the day was for Ron.
Thanks to David Evans once more for an honest, entertaining match report as ever complete with great photos. It really is an honour to feature them.
Check out Walsall Wood FC’s website here.