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Remembering Saltergate: "Memorable and emotional" last match

10 May 2020

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Long-serving matchday announcer Howard Borrell reflects on the final league match at Saltergate following the tenth anniversary of the farewell fixture...

From the morning production at the Pomegranate Theatre that had set the scene nicely, with lots of great memories, to the injury time winner that finished the day off perfectly as if it had all gone to script.

The game was, for the most part, a flat affair. Drew Talbot's headed own goal had given already promoted Bournemouth the lead and they had looked comfortable until Jack Lester's sweetly struck shot in the 80th minute brought us level.

As the game drifted into injury time a draw looked inevitable; however Derek Niven had other ideas as his 96th minute low shot from just outside the area sneaked just inside the post and sparked off some wonderful celebrations.

Almost the entire crowd came on to the pitch, they took some clearing for the game to play out one more minute only for them to pour on once again at the final whistle - this time they stayed on.

I remember I'd saved the song ‘Perfect Day’ by Lou Reed for just such an ending and it got an immediate airing before playing ‘Simply The Best’ (that I'd played in every Cup tie up to our run up the quarter final v Wrexham in 96/97).

Heaven knows how long it took to clear the pitch as the players were swamped and most lost the majority of their playing kit.

Eventually an impromptu Q&A took place in the directors box as I interviewed first a very emotional chairman Barrie Hubbard and then the two scorers, Jack Lester and Derek Niven. I'm not sure if many actually heard what was being said because the incessant noise from the crowd on the pitch dominated.

I stayed until the crowds had departed and eventually walked on to the pitch to the centre circle and just took in the full 360 degree view...the place where all of us came every fortnight to escape and dream; on that day the ending was as Lou Reed sang...just perfect.

Next followed a few drinks and more reminiscing. Friends from Belgium had visited for the game so what could be more English than to finish with a curry enjoyed with good friends and non-stop footballing recollections.

To sum up...memorable and emotional.

Certainly, the new stadium is a huge improvement on the quite squalid conditions of Saltergate. The back wall of the old PA box was corrugated iron that had almost rusted away; at one point, during an awful storm, horizontal rain paid an unwelcome visit and left me soaked for the duration. The ground staff decided that an old square of carpet would fix that problem and by the time we left Saltergate, the carpet matched the stadium....pretty much worn out but had served its purpose.

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