When Petrol Problems didn't stop football
Twenty one years is a long time. A very long time.
written by Taimour Lay
In the month of September, twenty-one years ago, a fuel crisis threatened to undermine the UK’s most precious social and economic activity: non-league football. Angry truckers and farmers, fuming at rising fuel prices, blockaded refineries and conducted “go-slows” on the roads. By 12 September, as many as 3,000 petrol stations were dry. Panic-buying ensued.
Amidst this chaos, on Wednesday 13 September 2000, struggling Kingstonian were set to play Forest Green away in the Conference, a four-hour drive which meant 1) I had to leave double history early to make the game and 2) hardy K’s fans needed Gary Ekins to use the last of his petrol to get us to Gloucestershire and back. His heroic decision – and my bravery at evading my history teacher, Mr McCann – was of course fated to end in defeat.
So it proved as K’s went down 3-1 at the New Lawn, precious fuel wasted on a pointless trip, with just a Mark Boyce goal to celebrate.
Here’s how our chauffeur Gary Ekins opened his match report for the Kingstonian website, K’s Web:
PETROL K'S CRISIS GRIPS NATION
“As if Kingstonian weren't having enough trouble, the petrol crisis gripping the country almost caused the postponement of this game. However, always a friendly club, Forest Green came to the rescue by donating their own coach. Always aiming to reply in kind, K's donated the three points to their rescuers…”
As for the goal, I don’t remember it but reading Gary’s report suggests it was perhaps forgettable:
“Patterson played the ball square to Boyce on the edge of the area. He cut inside and sent a (very slow) shot towards Spink's right hand post. The goalkeeper walked over to his right to pick up the ball, the ball struck captain Chris Burns' heel and went the other way. Somehow the ball had enough momentum to cross the line and so it was three-one. And for some reason Mark Boyce seemed very excited by his goal. It's just a shame that he hadn't shown that much desire for the preceding 75 minutes.”
A day later, on 14 September 2000, the threat of army intervention led to the protests being called off and the UK returned to normal by the end of the week, our freedom to destroy the planet protected. K’s, meanwhile, enjoyed an incredible FA Cup run before somehow getting relegated the same season. Geoff Chapple’s men had, by the spring of 2001, well and truly run out of fuel.