I was dropped off at my front door at 4am by a milkfloat still jabbering to the dairyman about that 70-yard sensation

FAN'S EYE VIEW No 112 Scarborough
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The Independent Online
When Scarborough signed Andy Ritchie in the close season, we thought our time had come. The former Oldham goal-meister was going to turn out for the Red Machine! Apparently, we had beaten a host of other clubs to his signature, a sign, surely, that Scarborough FC's image off the field belied our status on it.

We may have finished last season in 91st position, but what a thrilling finale it was. Not for us a campaign which petered out in March, we had the scintillation of a final-day decider on Teletext; a season which kept me, on the edge of our crumbling terrace steps right until the last kick, when Northampton's win over Exeter moved us off the bottom for the first time in six months.

And oh what joy those precious few victories gave us. That glorious September night in Fulham, when David D'Auria let fly from 50 yards - no, nearer 60 - and scored, and I was dropped off at my front door at 4am by a milkfloat, still dazed and confused and jabbering uncontrollably to the bewildered dairyman about that 70-yard sensation.

Of course, the reality of Andy Ritchie's arrival on the North-east riviera is somewhat different.

We were brought back down to earth with a bump when we lost 1-0 at Doncaster on the opening day of the season, when a crowd baying for and expecting a Ritchie hat-trick had to be content with a good pass here, a miscued shot there and a wave at the end.

And it transpired that Ritchie had been given rather than asked for a free transfer from Oldham, and that the only other team interested in him had been Scunthorpe. And now, with a tragic penalty shoot-out defeat at Hartlepool having denied us a place in the Coca-Cola Cup second round, the realisation that if the rest of the team is crap then Ritchie is not going to make a blind bit of difference anyway is beginning to hit home hard.

With retrospect, coming into the League might not have been such a good thing. We were quite happy really, a big fish in a small pool: we reached the FA Trophy final at Wembley four times in the 1970's, we went to Italy to play in the Anglo-Italian semi-pro tournament on numerous occasions - we have enough problems stumping up the cash to get to Torquay these days, never mind Trieste.

When the League propped open its back door for the first time in l987, an ambition which had never previously been entertained amongst the Conference's top dogs became an all-too-tempting reality.

It's too late to go back now - once the lid's been prised off the tin of ambition it can't be put back on.

So we'll grin and bear it as the new all-seater stands spring up courtesy of the Football Trust - all very well and good if leg cramps, over-zealous stewards and cut knees when you jump up to celebrate a goal are your thing.

Who wants the pressures and pains of a promotion push anyway - the maths- lesson Sundays scouring the League tables, the worries about glory-hunters nicking your place on the terrace and booze-free weekends as you save for the essential midweek games at Orient and Hereford.

Bitter? No! This is our first season for years that we've started with a chairman who's going to hang around until the end - unless domestic life takes a turn for the worse he can hardly be forced out: the only other board member is his wife.

As long as our wonderful manager, Super Ray McHale, keeps inspiring the team to intersperse the cautious displays with occasional out-of-the-blue attack-fests, and while D'Auria keeps knocking in those fantastic 80- yarders, we'll roll on in contented, blissful obscurity.

If only our motto, "No Battle No Victory", wasn't taken a little too literally at times.

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